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May 15, 2024

Moving Application Protection Beyond API Security


One of our more recent blog posts took a deep dive into API security and why it matters in the cloud. This post is somewhat of a follow up, discussing application protection beyond API security. It goes without saying that application protection is not a matter of securing APIs alone. There is a lot more to it than that.

As you read, bear in mind that Hillstone Networks can assist your organization with application protection strategies. To learn more, just contact us. Application protection is as important to us as cloud protection, zero trust network access, and everything else we do in the cybersecurity arena.

Applications Are a Natural Target

The starting point for strong application protection is understanding that applications are a natural target for threat actors. Think of it this way: networks are the digital road system through which attacks are implemented. Applications are the vehicles that drive on those roads. The data hackers are after is like a vehicle’s contents.

Because applications are so valuable as hacking tools, organizations need to give attention to application protection. Securing applications takes place on three fronts:

  • At the coding level.
  • At the runtime level.
  • At the data transmission level.

It is also important to note that proper application protection is a collaborative effort between software developers, cybersecurity experts, and members of the IT team. Organizations like Hillstone Networks can help with state-of-the-art solutions.

Application Protection at the Coding Level

Coding is where it all begins. Threat actors look for code vulnerabilities they can exploit with impunity. The weaker the code, the more successful the attacks. Right from the start, this dictates that developers follow the latest secure coding best practices in order to avoid the most common vulnerabilities.

Developers should write code that isn’t easily targeted by injection attacks, buffer overflows, and cross-site scripting. They should be utilizing secure code libraries and data validation strategies. Finally, applications should be subject to both static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST).

Application Protection at the Runtime Level

Applications advance to the runtime phase after initial development and testing is complete. During this phase, developers can implement a variety of security features to protect their code. After the fact, cybersecurity experts and the IT team deal with runtime issues.

Three of the strategies for application protection at the runtime level are:

  • Web application firewalls (WAFs)
  • Runtime application self-protection (RASP) tools.
  • Secure system configurations.

Because code is actually being executed at the runtime level, we recommend integrating RASP tools that can constantly monitor for suspicious activity. The tools can continue being used throughout an application’s entire life.

Application Protection at the Data Transmission Level

Once an application is fully operational, it begins transmitting data. This phase is critical in the sense that existing vulnerabilities not previously detected could lead to major breaches. It goes without saying that organizations cannot let their guard down as soon as new applications are released. They need to be just as vigilant about application protection moving forward.

Data validation and sanitation is one strategy for continuing application protection. Organizations should also utilize access controls, data encryption, and other tools as applicable. The right tools and strategies are further enhanced by practices at the IT level, including security patch management and implementing an incident response plan.

Your organization’s applications are a critical component to whatever it is you do. If you need help on the application protection front, please reach out to Hillstone Networks. Our team of experts can help you secure every aspect of your cloud and network environment. Application protection is just the beginning.