Almost a decade ago, Marc Andreessen said, “Software is eating the world.” The disruptive power, scalability and low entry costs of software applications, from Amazon to Netflix to LinkedIn, were well known then and this trend has accelerated considerably. Few businesses today can avoid digital transformation and stay competitive. In fact, it might be more accurate today to say that software applications run the world.
Unfortunately, security did not follow.
As enterprises continue to invest in endless layers of secure point solutions, our fundamental position on security is outdated. As our data centers and physical networks disappear, we continue to cling to an outdated perimeter defense mindset: “Keep the good stuff inside. Keep the bad guys out. »
But the security perimeter is increasingly porous and, in many cases, is disappearing altogether. It’s fair to compare traditional perimeter security tools to mall cops – guarding the entrance, but with little ability to tell who will do anything wrong once inside. And now those mall cops are increasingly monitoring empty stores because inventory has migrated to the cloud.
Today’s advanced cyberattacks can easily bypass perimeter security tools, and most experts agree that the precursors to your next attack are already inside your network. This effectively shifted the battlefield to the application himself. The goal of modern hackers is to break into harmless and corrupt applications as they run while running. These attacks increasingly occur in process memory where they can operate undetected, derailing applications, exposing sensitive data, and leaving few clues behind.
As awareness of the need for runtime security grows, it is important to look at the problem holistically and avoid adding more point products with only partial solutions. . Most revolutions need a manifesto, so to shift our minds and truly revolutionize cybersecurity, here are five principles to keep in mind for effective app protection:
1. Change your way of thinking: Turn conventional security upside down.
Most security tools attempt to accomplish a hopeless task: block anything suspicious from crossing the perimeter, with little information about what is good or bad. Modern security must start from within – with the app itself. This app-centric approach focuses on understanding what apps are. supposed to do, monitoring them as they run and making sure they never deviate, regardless of external threats, vulnerabilities, or zero-day attacks.
2. Get ready for a different fight: Runtime is the new security battleground.
Stopping attacks before they happen requires either foreknowledge or lucky guesses. Detecting attacks after the fact is usually too little, too late. Most conventional security tools treat application execution as a black box. Advanced attackers know this and easily exploit this shortcoming. You can’t stop what you can’t see – and to prevent runtime attacks, you need complete visibility into exactly what is happening when application code is running.
3. Eliminate blind spots: Protect the entire application stack.
If you lock your front door but leave a basement window open, that’s where burglars will go. It’s the same with web applications. You need to stop web-based attacks, but also the underlying servers, third-party code, backend applications, and data that are all connected and exposed to the outside world. Effective security requires unified protection across web, memory, and host layers.
4. Don’t leave any apps behind: Protection must extend from legacy to cloud and containers.
Almost every real-world business has a mix of apps and platforms, from legacy apps that can’t be easily removed, to cutting-edge tools in cloud, hybrid, container, or serverless environments. Patch-based security, especially for legacy applications, will never follow and often results in unintended consequences that disrupt business. Comprehensive real-world security requires protection for all applications, old and new, regardless of their platforms or patch status.
5. Always protect: Integrate security into your end-to-end product lifecycle.
The complexity of today’s software stacks means that vulnerabilities are inevitable. Hundreds emerge every day, and you will never send perfect code to production. Agile development requires both adaptive and continuous security, detecting vulnerabilities in pre-production, providing compensating controls for unresolved issues, and reacting to new threats that emerge during production.
The stakes are high, but this battle can be won if we update our security mindset and protect what matters most: your apps and your business. With software applications running around the world, it’s critical that you run them with confidence in their integrity and run them with confidence.
For more information on how Virsec deals with modern threats and protects applications from the inside and to get your free, step-by-step guide outlining the Five Essential Steps to Enterprise Application Securityplease visit Virsec.com.
About the Author: Willy Leichter, Vice President of Marketing, Virsec
Willy Leichter leads marketing at Virsec, with over twenty years of experience in product marketing, product management, outbound marketing, communications, digital marketing and demand generation. He has worked with a wide range of global enterprises to help them meet ever-changing security challenges. With extensive experience in a range of IT areas including network security, global data privacy laws, data loss prevention, access control, email security and cloud applications , he is a frequent speaker at industry events and author on IT security and compliance issues. A graduate of Stanford University, he held senior marketing positions in the United States and Europe, at CipherCloud, Axway, Websense, Tumbleweed Communications and Secure Computing (now McAfee).