Why technologists need to adopt an integrated approach to application security

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Across all sectors, it has become an increasingly complex challenge to manage application security, particularly in recent years. Digitization and innovation have led to considerable expansions in attack surfaces, especially in instances where organisations have shifted to modern application stacks – developed on cloud native technologies. An increasing relevance on technology amidst new hybrid working models has also increased security vulnerabilities.

With this, there has been an increase in the amount of cyberattacks threats which are raising concerns within tech and IT decision makers. According to recent Cisco AppDynamics report, 78% of technologists feel that their organization is vulnerable to a multi-staged security attack that would affect the full application stack over the next 12 months.

A significant factor is that for many IT teams, they haven’t got the resources or insights to highlight where new threats are coming from across a magnitude of applications. Over half of technologists and IT experts highlight that they often end up operating in ‘security limbo’ due to the lack of clarity on where to focus their efforts.

An integrated approach to application security allows IT teams to secure the full stack of modern applications across an entire application lifecycle providing the upmost protection for applications. But critically, with combined application and security monitoring, technologists can see how vulnerabilities could impact their business practices before prioritizing their actions accordingly.

IT teams being bombarded with security alerts

IT leaders have admitted that the rush to rapidly innovate and respond to the changing needs of users during the pandemic has come at the expense of durable application security during software development.

As a results of this sustained pressure against time, IT teams are facing a magnitude of challenges, from keeping up with an evolving risk landscape, to a lack of applicable skills within cloud and security management. Tech leaders also identify a lack of a shared strategy between application development and security teams which is increasingly causing conflict.

Yet potentially the largest current challenge faced by IT teams, is the lack of visibility around everchanging attack surfaces and vulnerabilities. Many security solutions work individually but not as part of a unit which means that IT leaders are unable to get a definitive view of their organization’s security bearing. There are visibility shortcomings across multi-cloud environments, as application components run between a range of differing platforms and on-premise databases.

The conclusion is, IT departments becoming peppered with security issues from across their IT stack but unable to comprehend the severity of each one. This ensures that the wider potential threat of these issues are not fully understood, leaving teams unsure which issue to rectify most urgently.

Focusing on a security approach for the full application stack

The need to develop a specialized security approach for the full application stack, that delivers the upmost protection for their applications, as possible, should be of the highest priority. This should cover from the iteration phases through to production, across code, containers and Kubernetes. 79% of technologists state that the implementation of a security approach for the full application stack is now a priority for their organization.

In addition, IT teams need to restructure their monitoring solutions to ensure performance and security numbers are cross checked together. This will allow IT teams to understand how security issues and vulnerabilities can impact end users and the business. These insights also enable IT teams to measure the risk of threats in real time based on their severity scoring. Prioritizing certain threats that can affect an area of a business that is a critical environment or application will prove most effective and allow IT teams to react in an agile manner, prioritizing the things that matter.

By embracing automation and artificial intelligence (AI), IT teams are also becoming more prevalent, given their scope for automatic detection and unbiased ranking of security issues across the technology stack. This also includes across cloud native microservices, Kubernetes containers, multi-cloud environments, or mainframe data centers. Furthermore, this can help reduce the workload and pain points that many IT teams are facing amidst this increasingly complex security environment, in a quicker and more efficient manner.

More than 75% of IT leaders believe that AI will play an increasingly important role in addressing the challenges around speed, scale and skills that their organization faces in application security.

Organizations should also seek to harness an increased relationship between IT teams, giving security and IT leaders the credibility and power to really make as much internal change as other heads of department given the stark risks being overseen by these teams. This will allow IT teams to develop, strong, companywide foundations for development and security programs.

By coordinating teams, combining automation, integrating monitoring to include performance and security risk management, IT teams can be significantly more successful in proactively managing these risks. A security approach for the full application stack will allow IT teams to build sturdier, more risk adverse products that will help their organizations move forward into this next iteration of IT innovation.