Data breaches are no joke. Incidents involving the loss or exposure of sensitive information can lead to customer churn, market value loss, C-level firings and potentially irreparable brand damage.
So it only makes sense that organizations should address the most common source of breaches - vulnerable web applications. Yet 96 percent of apps we tested contained at least one serious vulnerability. Further, according to the SANS Institute, only 35 percent of IT professionals test the security of their business-critical applications on an "ongoing" basis.
Hackers don't need studies to tell them this. That's why they continue to zero in on web applications to steal sensitive data, such as credit card information. This has been a particularly common refrain within the retail and e-commerce sectors.
So what can you do to become a less favorable target? Test, test, test. If you want to take a proactive security posture, you should consider testing all of your applications with basic vulnerability scanning throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Critical applications should endure a deeper scan - and penetration testing.
Here are the three phases on which to concentrate:
In the development stage, it is important to write secure code and do static, dynamic and penetration testing to confirm that your defense is operative and isn't riddled with vulnerabilities.
During this stage, test applications and certify them to be free of known security vulnerabilities before deploying them into production.
After applications are launched for widespread use in a production environment, ongoing automated vulnerability scanning regularly should be scheduled to give you the knowledge needed to protect against new threats. This is where most organizations fail to do adequate testing - or any testing at all. A good question to ask yourself is: When were my production apps last scanned for vulnerabilities and how many security vulnerabilities have been discovered since production launch?
Automated vulnerability scanning offers a convenient way to find application backdoors, malicious code and other threats that may exist. The recurring practice of identifying, classifying, remediating and mitigating vulnerabilities throughout the SDLC will lead to less exposure and more consumer confidence.
Grant Swanson is a senior marketing manager at Trustwave.