Application Security for Technology, Communications, and Life Sciences

Technology, life sciences, and communications companies have similar concerns when it comes to application security. Protecting sensitive data and customer information is important to foster trust between a company and its customers.

Here’s what companies in these industries need to know as they begin to assess their application security protocol.

Why should I consider an application security risk assessment or audit?

Technology companies selling software or software as a service (SaaS) want to sell secure products. Breaches can impact customer trust and have an impact on their sales. For the most part, technology companies want to ensure product integrity.

Life sciences companies, meanwhile, usually have a health care regulatory framework such as HITRUST that mandates what they have to secure. There are hard and fast rules, so compliance is the issue.

Communications companies are concerned with protecting the integrity of the communication they’re facilitating. Security and the customer’s perception of security is what fosters the trust required to communicate.

What are the most vulnerable areas for technology, life sciences, and communications companies?

Generally, the most vulnerable part of a website is where a user inputs data. Because the majority of websites have some form of authentication system, many companies have the same application security concerns.

Protecting user logins also means being concerned with authorization, or restricting the activities a user can do based on their account permissions. When threat actors successfully infiltrate an application, they’ll often try to gain administrative permissions, which will allow them to access more sensitive information.

What are some organizational challenges to anticipate with risk assessments and audits?

Technology companies typically have software development goals with strict timelines. Integrating security practices can slow down this process, with tensions between the two causing delays. Separating security goals from timeline goals can help reduce friction. Also, considering the organizational structure of the security and development teams can improve implementation.

We’ve decided to move forward with an application security assessment. What’s the next step?

The assessment process is similar regardless of the industry.

The first step is to get a build of the application so that the assessor can map the attack surface. This is accomplished by looking at the application to determine which points are particularly vulnerable. Generally, these are the points at which sensitive information is either entered by or provided to the user.

Once this is complete, the assessment team focuses on these areas in the source code itself, searching for vulnerabilities. The result is a description of these issues, with recommendations for development teams to remediate them, or other risk mitigation steps.

We’re Here to Help

If you’d like to learn more about implementing an application security program and how it might help protect your business, contact your Moss Adams professional, and visit our application security page for more information.