Are Web Applications Your Customers’ Achilles’ Heel?

Web apps present a growing vulnerability when it comes to cyberattacks. Here is what to look for when choosing a Web application security solution.

web application security

Companies are deploying Web-based applications today more than ever. As cloud-based and software-as-a-service models become more common for mission-critical apps, security vulnerabilities that can put data and applications at risk have emerged. For MSPs deploying and supporting these applications, investing in and offering a robust Web application security solution is a critical piece of the modern security profile.

The need to strengthen Web app security is pressing. According to a 2020 report from Verizon, 43% of data breaches could be traced back to attacks against these applications, more than double the number from the prior year.

Other research reports show a growing surge in Web app adoption in the B2B world, leading to an increase in shadow IT and a major constraint on legacy infrastructure. These cloud-based solutions present new security considerations and remote access scenarios that are not addressed by traditional VPN and firewall systems.

For MSPs, a security solution that addresses the unique risks of Web applications must meet several requirements.

Secure the Network

When cybercriminals use stolen or compromised credentials to initiate a ransomware attack, for example, the problem can quickly overtake the entire IT infrastructure. A well-designed security solution will prevent ransomware from spreading within a network via network segmentation and intrusion prevention. Look for a next-generation firewall solution that:

  • Provides multi-layered security that blocks advanced threats, including zero-day attacks
  • Includes intrusion prevention and sandboxing of malware
  • Provides powerful network segmentation to prevent lateral movement within the network

Secure Application Access

With the rapid shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies discovered that traditional VPN approaches were difficult and frustrating to use for their employees and left them vulnerable to opportunistic cyberattacks because these VPN channels were left open.

MSPs and their clients should secure application access with a ZTNA solution that provides secure access to applications and workloads from any device and any location. The identity of the user is verified (using secure credentials) each time they request access. Look for a solution that:

  • Continuously validates that only the right person with the right device can access company resources
  • Enforces role-based and attribute-based access control to provide least privileged access

By blocking unauthorized access, ZTNA stops attackers trying to breach your application and spread ransomware. If a breach does occur, ZTNA can help limit the scope of the damage because it relies on role-based access.

Secure Web Applications

Because they present unique security challenges, Web applications should be protected via purpose-built solutions. One of the best ways to deploy application security is with a web application firewall (WAF) to protect software, users, and their data wherever they may be. That will stop bot attacks, denial of service attacks and provide greater insight and visibility into network and application activity. Look for a solution that has the following features:

  • Easy to deploy and customize to your environment: A WAF cannot fully protect you if you don’t configure it for your specific needs.
  • Scalable: Business growth, digital transformation, and other factors can increase the demand on your clients’ applications and websites. Your WAF should be able to expand and evolve with their business needs.
  • Comprehensive protection against advanced threats: OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Top Ten protection and application-layer DDoS protection are the table stakes one should expect from a good WAF. For complete protection, look for a solution that defends against zero-day attacks, credential stuffing, data leakage, malicious bots, and more.
  • Easy to update: A WAF should have regular firmware updates to improve the security and capabilities of the device. A hosted solution that updates automatically without administrator intervention is ideal.
  • Continuous threat intelligence: New attacks are developed every day, and they can spread around the world within a matter of hours. Your WAF should receive real-time updates on these attacks and employ machine learning to adapt to variants.

A good web application firewall can stop ransomware from gaining a foothold in your networks by blocking common web application vulnerabilities and zero-day threats.

Closing Thoughts

Web applications have grown in popularity because of their lower development costs and greater flexibility, and their role as a security threat vector has expanded as well. As a result, MSPs supporting these applications need strong security solutions in place that can help clients keep their data and applications safe in an increasingly dangerous cyber landscape.