Applications act as the doorway to your services and are used by everyone interacting with your business. From employees to customers to suppliers and other business partners, it can be easy to lose control over who is accessing what applications—and that can leave your company vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, the zero-trust security model can be applied to application security, ensuring you only allow access to the right people.
Application Security vs. Network Security
Application security is the cousin of network security. Network security controls have direct access to your network and systems using tools such as network segmentation, and application security controls have access to your applications. However, application security works on the same principles as network security, using the least privilege to allow users as much access as they need to perform their role.
The Importance of Application Security and Best Practices
More and more applications are being deployed every day. Whether on-premises, in the cloud, a hybrid of the two, or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provided by a third party, the sheer number of apps and the increasingly mobile workforce have practically nullified the concept of the network perimeter. Application security provides your company with the following benefits.
Visibility into Activity
Use the APIs provided by cloud-based applications to monitor the activity and data usage on your apps. This will provide you with full visibility into who is using your applications and what they’re doing there and will alert you to suspicious activity. This visibility into application usage is enhanced even more with access requests considered case-by-case.
Control of Shadow IT
We talked about shadow IT regarding device security, which also applies to application security. It is common for employees and other users to use apps on your network that have not been reviewed or sanctioned by your IT department. These apps may not align with your cybersecurity policies and can act as a gateway into your network for attackers who can then launch any number of cyberattacks.
To mitigate the risk of shadow IT, it’s important to identify any unauthorized applications that are connected to your network and determine the risk each of these applications pose, its usage, and whether it meets regulatory compliance. This will allow you to classify these apps and tag them for further monitoring.
In addition, each application resides on a particular server, which means that users only need access to that app on that server, rather than the system. Securing access at the application level will ensure they cannot go beyond that application, protecting the network from malicious activity.
Protection of Sensitive Information
Develop and implement policies that specify access permissions and approved activities in the cloud environment. These policies should also make it possible to discover new applications on your network and cover file, session, and anomaly detection policies.
Use out-of-the-box policies that are proven solutions for a wide range of files and activities and adjust these or create new policies when needed. Ensure the policies you create cover the use of shadow IT and that you have full control over what applications can access your network.
Access and Session Controls
Apply least-privileged access and continuous verification to all applications connected to your network. This includes establishing real-time monitoring based on the application and the user, device, and location at access time. Risk can be managed as these factors change, and you can also ensure that sensitive information is tagged using sensitivity labels to prevent it from being accessed by an unauthorized user or an unauthorized device.
Protection Against Cyberattacks
Attackers can use various tools and techniques to access your network via applications, such as taking advantage of open authorization and compromised credentials. Protect against these using advanced threat detection that includes constant monitoring of activity, behavioral analytics, and anomaly detection to protect against malware and open authorization. Investigate incidents that arise and minimize their impact when necessary.
Cloud Security Posture
If you also use Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and/or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), it is vital that you assess your level of security in these areas and strengthen it where needed. This means verifying the level of security established by your third-party provider and having full visibility into the existing security configuration and level of compliance of your cloud platforms. This will allow you to conduct risk-based investigations when required.
The zero-trust security model will protect your network and systems and the data on them, regardless of whether an application resides on the cloud, on-premises, or as a hybrid. Contact Platinum Technologies to learn how we can help you increase your security through zero-trust application security.