Business Issues -> Security & Risk
By: Bob Tarzey, Service Director, Quocirca
Published: 18th July 2012
Copyright Quocirca © 2012
A recent Quocirca report underlines the scale of the application security challenge faced by businesses. The average enterprise tracks around 500 mission critical applications, in financial services organisations it is closer to 800 (Figure 1). The security challenge arises because more and more of these applications are web-enabled. Furthermore, businesses are increasingly relying on software provided as a service (SaaS) and apps that run on mobile devices, both of which are, by definition, exposed to the internet (Figure 2).
Businesses worry about application security for three reasons. First, security failures leave them vulnerable to hackers and malware, secondly auditors expect application security to be demonstrable and third, customers, with who they share business processes via applications, are also increasingly likely to seek security guarantees. Fixing security flaws up-front wherever possible also makes sense because of the cost involved at doing so after software if deployed. There are both products and services opportunity for resellers to help their customers achieve these goals.
There are a number of approaches that can be taken to improve application security. For in-house developed software, better practice can be ensured through training of developers, many businesses will need assistance to achieve this. For commercially acquired software, due diligence during procurement is necessary, seeking assurances from independent software vendors (ISV); resellers that sell application software could do this for their customers as part of their value add. However, these measures can never ensure that software is 100% secure.
For this reason there are three other approaches that should be considered:
100% software security is never going to be guaranteed and many organisations use multiple approaches to maximise protection (Figure 3). However, interestingly, as one of the reasons for having demonstrable software security is to satisfy auditors, compliance bodies do not themselves mandate multiple approaches for compliance. For example the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI-SSC) deems code scanning to be an acceptable alternative to a WAF.
For today’s businesses the use of software application is not a choice; however, there is a choice when it come to the methods chosen to improve software security and, in turn, the costs involved and the benefits achieved. Using the right mix of approaches at all stages of the software development, procurement and deployment life cycle will improve the efficiency, reliability, security, compliance and competitiveness of business processes; these are all goals that resellers should be aiming to help their customers achieve.
Quocirca’s report “Outsourcing the problem of software security” is freely available here: http://www.quocirca.com/reports/711/outsourcing-the-problem-of-software-security
This article first appeared in the Computer Reseller News (CRN) UK print edition and on http://www.channelweb.co.uk
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