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Continuous Application Security: The Intersection of Security and DevOps

March 3, 2023
Written by
Abhay Bhargav

Businesses, big or small, nowadays are finally leaning towards integrating security into their SDLC. This isn’t really unexpected because of the rising threat of data theft and data compromise. According to OWASP, around 2/3 of every web application security is because of insecure coding practices. 

Instead of treating security as an afterthought and trying to patch up vulnerabilities at the end of development, Continuous Application Security means that security is a key part of every step, from design to deployment and beyond! We're talking about threat modeling, secure coding practices, regular security testing, and continuous monitoring - all working together to keep our applications safe and secure.

2 effective ways to eliminate common vulnerabilities in your applications

In this world where data exploitation and unauthorized access are happening left and right, even the most experienced security engineer needs to be on the lookout for cybercriminals and malicious actors. Some people might say that the best way to prevent application vulnerabilities is through testing and remediation. I mean, they’re not wrong, but application security doesn’t end or even start there. Let’s see TWO of the most effective ways to eliminate common vulnerabilities in your applications:

1. Train developers about writing secure codes.

Building applications and software with security in mind are one of the greatest importance in today's world of technology. Here are some reasons why:

  • Protecting User Information - Almost everything nowadays can be done with the internet, a phone, or a computer. Because of that, malicious actors are always looking for ways to exploit user data. With secure coding, you are adding another layer of protection against data breaches, which can have far-reaching consequences. 
  • Reducing the Risk of Cyber Attacks - Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and intricate, and organizations must be ready to stand against them. Developers who prioritize security when writing code reduce the risk of cyber attacks by making it more difficult for hackers to manipulate vulnerabilities in the code.
  • Building Customer Trust - One of the main concerns of customers when deciding which product or service to use is security. Delivering a product with security hard-coded into it. This can help organizations demonstrate their commitment to providing consumers the peace of mind that their data is secured.
  • Cost Savings - Correcting security problems after development can be costly and time-consuming. Organizations with developers who write secure codes have the upper hand against their competitors when it comes to faster time to market.

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2. Eliminating an entire set of vulnerabilities with Secure Default Libraries

Secure Default Libraries refer to programming libraries or frameworks designed with security in mind. These libraries are configured with secure default settings and features that make it harder for malicious actors to exploit vulnerabilities in the code. According to a talk by Clint Gibler from 2020, implementing secure defaults can solve as many of your security problems in code as possible. Your developers will have libraries that they can use for cryptography. This will eliminate the possibility of them performing insecure cryptographic practices.

  • The library will force developers to use key-stretching algorithms like Argon2 and BCrypt to store passwords.
  • The library will force developers to use well-built cryptographic algorithms like AES-GCM 128.
  • The library will take over Key Generation, Padding, and other necessary tasks that developers do not have much familiarity with.

Over my years of experience in the application security niche, I have curated libraries that can be helpful when increasing the security of your applications. Let’s check them out!

Cryptography Libraries

  1. Libsodium - Libsodium is a portable, cross-platform cryptographic library that provides easy-to-use APIs for encryption, decryption, signatures, and password hashing.
  2. OpenSSL - OpenSSL is a widely used cryptographic library that provides functions for secure communications and data storage.
  3. Google Tink - Google Tink is a library for cloud and mobile applications that provides high-level APIs for symmetric and asymmetric encryption, digital signatures, key management, and message authentication.

Client-Side Output Encoding

  1. DOMPurify - DOMPurify is a JavaScript library that sanitizes HTML and prevents XSS attacks. It provides secure defaults for encoding user-generated content by removing unsafe HTML and attributes, and only allowing safe HTML to be displayed.
  2. AngularJS - AngularJS is another popular JavaScript framework that includes built-in protections against XSS attacks through the use of its built-in "ngSanitize" module, which provides a safe way to render HTML content without risking XSS vulnerabilities.
  3. Bleach - Bleach is a Python library that provides an easy-to-use interface for sanitizing and cleaning user input to prevent XSS attacks. 

Input Validation

  1. Express-Validator - Express-Validator includes functions for validating user input against a range of data types and provides protection against many types of injection attacks, including XSS.
  2. JSON-Schema - JSON-Schema includes support for defining constraints on input data, such as data types, minimum and maximum values, and regular expressions. JSON-Schema provides a secure way to validate JSON data in a standardized way and is widely used in RESTful web services.
  3. Validator.js - Validator.js is a JavaScript library that provides an easy-to-use interface for validating user input.

Database Access (RDBMS)

  1. Hibernate - Hibernate is a Java ORM framework that provides secure database access features, including parameterized SQL queries, caching and transaction management. Hibernate also includes support for database encryption and secure communication over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer).
  2. Django ORM - Django ORM is a built-in ORM framework in the Django Python web framework that provides a secure way to access databases. Django ORM includes support for parameterized SQL queries, transaction management, and connection pooling, which help prevent SQL injection attacks.

Other Injections

  1. Mustache.js - Mustache.js is used for rendering HTML templates. Mustache.js includes support for automatic HTML escaping, which helps prevent XSS (Cross-Site Scripting) attacks.
  2. Safe-Regex - Safe-Regex has support for validating regular expressions for security vulnerabilities, such as ReDoS (Regular expression Denial of Service) attacks, which can cause a server to crash or become unresponsive.
  3. SerialKiller - SerialKiller is a Node.js library that provides a secure way to serialize and deserialize JSON data. SerialKiller includes support for validating input data against a JSON schema and includes protections against several types of injection attacks, including XSS and code injection.

Never ship a line of bad code again

Secure coding training is necessary for developers to earn the skills and knowledge required to develop secure software applications. It equips them with security best practices to mitigate vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of security incidents.  

From Threat Modeling to DevSecOps, AppSecEngineer is not your typical security training platform. Take charge of your application’s security today with REAL hands-on training without breaking the bank. Check out our high-quality Application Security training here  and start securing your applications with confidence!

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Source for article
Abhay Bhargav

Abhay Bhargav

Abhay is a speaker and trainer at major industry events including DEF CON, BlackHat, OWASP AppSecUSA. He loves golf (don't get him started).

Abhay Bhargav


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