What is a Web Application Security Policy?
A web application security policy is a set of guidelines that stipulate how a company should secure its websites and web-based applications. Such a policy helps to ensure that confidential data and intellectual property are protected from cyber threats and that business operations are not disrupted by successful attacks.
When a company has a clear policy that developers and security teams work from, this helps to ensure critical information for application development processes is efficient.
It is important to stress that a “one-size-fits-all” approach cannot be used when developing an enterprise web application security policy. Any policy must reflect a company’s size and the type of business they conduct. Whilst it is good practice to examine what other companies include in their policies, these should simply be used as a guide to help you develop your own.
Why do I need a Web Application Security Policy?
The speed at which new web applications and software can be deployed is at an all-time high. With many large enterprises now accustomed to rapid deployment, this is often an opportune time for hackers to exploit even the simplest of vulnerabilities.
A simple configuration error or a known unpatched vulnerability for example could lead to a much more serious security incident.
The speed at which threat actors can pivot and alter their tactics to infiltrate software and web apps is yet another reason for establishing a clear policy. Establishing boundaries within a web application security policy will help prevent vulnerabilities later.
How to develop your Web Application Security Policy
It is important to ensure that your web application security policy covers both the potential external threats on your enterprise network and the internal risks, ensuring staff make appropriate use of your network resources. Tying these both together will ensure your policy document is clear.
Below is a step-by-step guide on what to include and look out for when developing your policy document:
What are other companies doing?
As mentioned previously in this document, a good place to start is by taking a look at what other companies are doing in terms of their web application security policies.
The internet is a great place to browse different policies – there are many resources available and examples of policies from almost any industry you can think of.
Any policy must reflect a company’s size and the type of business they conduct, so keep this in mind when developing your policy.
If you liaise directly with cyber security vendors, reaching out to them to ask what they include in their policies is also a good way of learning what to include and what not to include.
What threats have caused problems in the past?
Being able to determine vulnerabilities that have caused issues previously will help you establish a baseline of what should be included in the document first.
Talk to your developers, system administrators and other key personnel who are responsible for web applications or systems. By doing this you will be able to identify any gaps that exist within the current policy.
These same people will also be able to provide guidance on processes and technical controls that should be put in place to mitigate future risks.
Your web application security policy should help you decide on the risk of certain vulnerabilities. Will it be a low, medium or high risk to your organisation? When you can clearly define the risk, the timeframes on when it needs to be addressed can be actioned quickly.
Remediate and mitigate
It is important for your policy to clearly define remediation and mitigation processes for vulnerabilities. Who decides what must be remediated? When is the time for a vulnerability to be fixed in the development process? Prioritising your vulnerabilities should work hand in hand with your remediation and mitigation strategy.
Who is responsible?
Your web application security policy should establish the personnel responsible for ensuring the security of your web applications in each specific stage of the software development lifecycle.
Is it the development team, a security operations centre (SOC) or someone else?
Ensuring there is an owner for each web application will help determine when new versions need to be deployed and reviewed from a security perspective. This will also help prevent vulnerabilities from going undetected for long periods.
Don’t forget to include your staff
If you involve your staff in the development process for your web app security policy, enterprises are much more likely to get the buy-in they need to ensure the policy is a success. It is important to get them involved as early as possible.
As the policy develops through time, it will also be important to ensure staff are kept abreast of any changes or developments.
Your policy should be tool-specific
Security automation tools are now commonplace for most businesses. It is important to ensure that a web application security policy outlines which tools are to be used at different stages of the software development lifecycle.
Monitoring, monitoring, monitoring
The speed at which new web applications and software can be deployed is at an all-time high. This speed can often be a hindrance – new code can unearth new vulnerabilities.
Your web application security policy should clearly define how you will monitor your applications. Working closely with how you prioritise your vulnerabilities (as mentioned previously) will help you determine what corrective actions are needed.
Your web application security policy must be clear and concise. It should also be reviewed and updated regularly.
The policy should help you determine what risks are acceptable, what needs to be addressed immediately and who is responsible for each stage of the software development lifecycle.
A clear policy will help establish a framework for your developers and technical personnel, ensuring they have confidence in the company’s processes and software.
If your staff are confident about your web application security, this confidence will help instil confidence in your customers.
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LoughTec is committed to preventing threats and zero-day attacks for secure data transfer across your network, applications, and customer operations.
With almost two decades of experience in securing critical infrastructure systems, our technologies integrate advanced malware protection and detection into your IT solutions and applications.
MetaDefender – our advanced threat prevention solution for file uploads is used by organisations that require the highest level of security, including critical infrastructure, government agencies, and financial institutions.
Use a web application security solution that works – schedule a meeting with one of our Technical experts today and explore how we can help you protect your infrastructure from advanced sophisticated threats. Let us help you implement good web application security for your organisation.
Call us on +44 (0) 28 8225 2445 or email our team at email@example.com.
Check out our other resources regarding Web Application Security here:
10 Web Application Security Risks
Web Application Security Checklist
Web Application Security Audit
8 Web Application Security Threats
Web Application Security Solutions from LoughTec