How do you cost effectively defend web applications from hackers? Your organization relies on mission critical business therap login that contain sensitive information about customers, business processes and corporate data. Moving away from proprietary client/server applications to web applications gives you a simpler, cost-effective, highly extensible delivery platform. These applications are more than a valuable tool to power your business operations; they are also a valuable and vulnerable target for attackers.
Web applications are increasingly the preferred targets of cyber-criminals looking to profit from identity theft, fraud, corporate espionage, and other illegal activities. The impact of an attack can be significant, and include:
In addition to protecting the corporate brand, federal and state legislation and industry regulations are now requiring web applications to be better protected. As you take action to protect web applications in a timely and effective manner, you must balance the need for security with availability, performance and cost-effectiveness. Protecting web applications requires both zero-day protection and rapid response with minimal impact to operations without impacting performance or changing system architectures.
The number of corporate web applications has grown exponentially and most organizations are continuing to add new applications to their operations. With this rapid growth come common security challenges driven by complexity and inconsistency. New awareness into web application vulnerabilities, thanks to organizations such as the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), has helped organizations identify application security as a priority. But according to a June, 2006 survey (www.symantec.com/ about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20060919_01), while 70 percent of software developers indicated that their employers emphasize the importance of application security, only 29 percent stated that security was always part of the development process.
Unfortunately, it is not just application flaws that are leaving systems vulnerable. In addition to application issues, every web application relies on a large stack of commercial and custom software components. The operating system, web server, database and all the other critical components of this application stack, have vulnerabilities that are regularly being discovered and communicated to friend and foe alike. It is these vulnerabilities that most organizations overlook when they’re considering web application security.
As new vulnerabilities are found, patches become a critical part of managing application security. The process of patch management is complex and difficult to do successfully. Even the most proactive IT team must often reassign critical resources to deploy urgent patches, disrupting normal operations. The time required to patch responsibly lengthens the window of time a hacker has to exploit a specific vulnerability. With thousands of vulnerabilities and patches being announced each year the problem continues to grow. Even organizations with the most efficient patching processes in place can’t rely on this alone to protect them from attacks targeting web application vulnerabilities.
Today’s sophisticated attackers target corporate data for financial and political gain. They know they can more easily exploit vulnerabilities in web application stacks versus trying to defeat well built network and perimeter security. Hackers have a myriad number of vulnerabilities techniques to use including: