Ask an IT person why they scan certain applications for vulnerabilities, and they'll most often reply: "Because of compliance."
Now if you ask those same IT people why they don't scan other apps, they'll often give you an identical response: "Because of compliance."
It's a sad fact that most security analysts and application production professionals feel so tight on time and resources that they stop at what they "must" do (for compliance) rather than what they believe they "should" do (for overall security).
But given the high visibility of web application breaches, many organizations are setting themselves up for disaster if they maintain that strategy.
While compliance mandates present a clear impetus to vulnerability scan any app that handles credit card or Social Security numbers, or personally identifiable medical information, most organizations have dozens or hundreds of other apps that are in need of protecting. Almost every app is capable of hurting your organization if it is compromised.
As such, consider the following four reasons why you should consider comprehensive app scanning.
Attacks against apps are increasing because vulnerabilities are increasing
Ninety-six percent of all applications tested in 2013 by Trustwave had one or more serious security vulnerabilities when first tested. The median number of vulnerabilities per app rose to 14. The application layer continues to be a soft target, which is why experts estimate a clear majority of attacks target it.
Any app with a login typically has data that should be protected
Apps may contain customer, employee or partner information that can be used for identity theft. Apps also may expose corporate technical, financial, legal, compensation, competitive or HR information.
Vulnerabilities can be exploited to conduct a range of actions
This can involve anything from crashing apps to taking shell control to corrupting databases. In short, an application compromise can spell big financial and reputational damage to a breached organization.
Because you can
Comprehensive application scanning is more attainable than ever and can range from automated scans to managed automated scans, and more advanced penetration testing. Solutions are better at letting you tune the effort, cost and security level to fit the needs of all of your applications, from "brochureware" to an e-commerce shopping cart.
Chris Harget is director of product marketing at Trustwave.