Starting and running a business comes with an almost infinite list of possible risks. You could fail to break even or meet your revenue goals. Key employees could quit. A natural disaster could destroy your facility. And on and on. On the upside, there are almost always remedies for these mishaps. A savvy social media campaign could bring your sales back up. You can replace employees who have left. You could rebuild your facility.
The same is true with cybersecurity. Many technology factors can make you vulnerable to attack, including software flaws. But you can use application security methods to repair them or secure .NET development services or other development services to create custom software specifically designed for the security needs of your business.
Applications are becoming a more frequent target for hackers. Inadvertent coding errors can result in unwanted actors gaining access to steal user credentials, download sensitive data, change the behavior of the software, access administrative controls, or shut down the software. Hackers can sometimes perform these actions without leaving evidence of their presence. These issues can occur in both computer and mobile software.
If you run a small business, you need to be especially wary. Hackers see you as an easy target, figuring you have fewer resources with which to establish strong cybersecurity. In fact, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. Looked at from another perspective, a startling 67% of small businesses have been the target of a cyberattack in the last 12 months.
Application security is a growing field that addresses these types of risks. The best time to make applications more secure is during development. For example, developers can perform a design review before any code is written to assess threats that can be determined at that time.
Security improvements can also be made after the application has been deployed. Fixes can include coding adjustments, encryption improvements, and permission changes. To find problems to be addressed, reviewers can perform any of the following tests:
- Static application security testing (SAST) (also known as whitebox testing). An engineer manually reviews the source code to find security vulnerabilities.
- Dynamic application security testing (DAST) (also known as blackbox testing). The reviewer tests it for vulnerabilities by using it as it was designed to be used.
- Software composition analysis (SCA). The reviewer looks at the software to identify the original source of the software’s components and libraries.
- Database scanning. The reviewer checks the associated database to identify areas of weakness.
- Tooling. The engineer uses specific tools to perform security tests.
- Bug reporting program. Developers may get insights from colleagues who find vulnerabilities in their software. The programs reward and recognize those who report the flaws.
Next Steps for Safer Software
Consider your situation. If your company does any of the following activities, it’s worth thinking about performing a thorough application audit:
- Collect personal data from customers required for purchases, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, or credit card numbers.
- Retain employee information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, or banking information.
- Use a variety of software programs such as those designed for accounting, inventory, and customer care.
If you don’t have in-house staff capable of testing, you can hire an outsourced IT team to do so or to develop custom software that’s specifically designed to work within your business environment. Custom software has the advantage of being unknown to hackers, unlike off-the-shelf applications whose vulnerabilities are already established.
In addition to the application audit, be sure you’re using strong antivirus software to thwart attacks that may come through websites or email. Make sure all your software programs, including operating systems, are updated regularly. Creating strong passwords is also highly important, which is why this advice is repeated so often. Back up your data regularly so you won’t lose it if the worst does happen.
Finally, consider that a majority of cyberattacks on businesses occur because of human error. It’s critical to teach employees about cybercrime and what they can do to help prevent it. Assign a leader within your company to handle this key task. They should communicate to your entire team the worst-case scenario, including what could happen to their employment, in the case of an attack. The point person should also work with your IT team and, if needed, outside IT consultants, to train employees and update them regularly on cybersecurity matters.
Software applications are just one more “entry point” for cybercriminals to access your company’s precious data and cause serious problems from data theft to fraud to stalled operations. With all the other risks involved in starting and running a business, the last thing you need is the hassle of a cybersecurity breach.
That’s why it’s smart to be proactive about your applications by thoroughly reviewing them and having custom software developed if needed. There’s no way to eliminate business risk entirely but, with some smart planning, you can take steps to minimize cyber threats.