Executives Need AppSec Data Too! Here's 3 Reasons Why

AVC, Vulnerability Correlation, Vulnerability Management, Application Security, DevOps
Niti Suryawanshi | September 23, 2020

 

When it comes to security breaches and cybercrime, it's almost never the case that there's just one or two failures that caused the compromise. You're much more likely to see that there's a bunch of underlying factors that, put together, cause a systemic failure. 

High profile security breaches necessitate an 'investigation into the matter', which is just corpo-lingo for 'looking for an easy scapegoat' does as little damage to their brand image as possible, trivialising the process of finding out what actually went wrong. 

Nevertheless, prevention is better than cure, and preparing to stop a breach is always a better option than trying fix the damage done by one. Thanks to the recent advancement and awareness around application security and the shift-left movement, product teams are making the effort to find security bugs as early as possible in the SDLC.

And as important as it is for developers and engineers to understand the security situation of the apps they're building, it's equally crucial for the executives leading them to be tuned in as well. But what does upper management have to do with the security of applications they're not even developing?

Why do executives need AppSec data? 

Look at this way: imagine you're the captain of a ship that's sinking, and all your crew members are trying to tell you it's going under. But you're standing at the front of the ship tilting upwards, so to you it just looks like you're going over a tall wave. So you think everything's just swell right up to the point when you're swimming in the middle of the Atlantic.

Okay, this analogy sounded a lot better in my head, but the point still remains: how are you going to know exactly what's going on with your applications unless you have real, hard data to go off of? And when you don't know how your apps are doing, how can you expect to lead a large team of developers and security engineers? And trust me, you do not want to rely on 'gut instinct', whatever that is.

Read more: This company changed a flawed development strategy using extensive security analytics

Executives like CISOs and CTOs make better, smarter decisions that actually get results when they use analytics, make sense of the data, and actively work towards a well-defined, realistic goal.

Vulnerability Management: Way better with AVC

One of the cornerstones of a sound application security program is Vulnerability Management.  The multiplicity of testing tools and testing iterations makes managing vulnerabilities at scale all the more critical. This is where Application Vulnerability Correlation (AVC) comes in. 

In addition to eliminating noise in the form of duplication of results and flagging of false positives amongst other things, AVCs provide a treasure trove of valuable secondary information that helps senior management make informed decisions such as training needs and better utilisation of tooling budgets. 

Read more: Top 10 Reasons to Correlate Vulnerabilities

Here are 3 ways executives and management can get serious results just by looking at the AppSec data.

1. Evaluate Performance of Security Tools

With the increasing need to effectively use existing security bandwidth, adoption of tools is on the rise. Investing in a plethora of static and dynamic (SAST, SCA, DAST and IAST) tools is one thing. However, keeping a track of their effective utilisation and performance is extremely important. 

Orchestron’s tool based heat maps, helps management compare and contrast open source security tools and  their commercial equivalents. You can actively track the performance of every testing tool you have deployed and, analyse which is befitting for your set-up environment. 

2. Implement a Risk-based Vulnerability Management Model

Apart from zero day attacks, most security breaches emerge from already known security vulnerabilities. The problem is the lack of direction in resolution of vulnerabilities.

Learn more: How vulnerability prioritisation works

Development teams have to ensure that vulnerabilities that carry a higher risk are resolved first. Vulnerability correlation can help AppSec leaders implement such a model through a risk-based prioritisation of vulnerabilities. 

3. Look Closer at  Vulnerability Trends 

An organisation's capacity to grow is intrinsically linked to the growth of its employees.  Regular and sustained training programs must be utilised for the steady enhancement of an employee’s skill-set. This is especially true in the context of skilled security resources, who are a rare breed. 

Learn more: See how your vulnerabilities progress over days, months and years

Of the many indicators to ascertain training needs, vulnerability trends can provide interesting insights. AVC platforms can help you monitor open/closed vulnerabilities across applications helping you assess the security skill level of different teams in the organisation. This enables executives to identify the need for up-skilling of appropriate teams.