/sep 11, 2020

Why Application Security is Important to Vulnerability Management

By Jason Phillips

It was the day before a holiday break, and everyone was excited to have a few days off to spend with friends and family. A skeleton crew was managing the security operations center, and it seemed as though every other team left early to beat the holiday traffic. Every team other than the vulnerability management (VM) team that is. Just before it was time to leave for the day, and the holiday break, the phone rang. We were notified of a zero-day vulnerability, and our CISO requested a report on the location of the risk within the enterprise. Does this sound familiar?

This happened to me. I was part of the vulnerability management team leading the web application scanning program for a Fortune 100 company. When they announced a major struts vulnerability targeting SWIFT, my CISO wanted to know exactly where we could find it in our applications. As part of our prioritization efforts at the time, and according to our internal security policy, the VM team was only scanning our external applications dynamically. Sure, the software development lifecycle (SDLC) process included rigorous testing throughout the different stages, however, the data collected in some cases was point-in-time, and access to this data, if it persisted, was not accessible to the VM team.

One of the main reasons we continuously analyze our assets is to be aware. You don’t just want to know what vulnerabilities are present within your servers, containers, applications, and libraries. You also want to know what else is out there so when your CISO asks you where the zero-day vulnerability exists in your enterprise, you can quickly have an informed answer without having to rescan every single asset in your inventory to provide a report.

This is why the VM and security function need to be part of the development process. It’s not because security wants to be the persistent nag always asking, “Did you scan it?”, “Did you scan it?”, but it is their job to be proactive. Yes, I said it. Vulnerability Management is proactive. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “What’s the point of vulnerability management anyways? It’s just a reactive response to the inevitable.” Collecting intelligence from your assets is a proactive measure that allows you to quickly assess the risk and remediate or mitigate as needed. 

At Veracode, we provide you with the data from your application security program so it can be utilized as part of your vulnerability management program. Do you need to find where struts exist in your applications? No problem. With software composition analysis, we are able to identify all the libraries you are calling within your application, and we are even able to see what those libraries are calling. If Struts or any other library that poses a risk to your application is identified, we are going to let you know. Whether it be a Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) finding or a Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) category of flaw, we can identify it using static or dynamic analysis. We can then give you this intelligence so that the next time you are asked where the risk is, you can quickly pull from the data you have proactively collected and provide your CISO the risk data necessary to make quick, informed decisions.

To learn more about managing vulnerabilities, check out our comprehensive application security solutions.  

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By Jason Phillips

Jason Phillips is a Senior Solutions Architect at Veracode, focusing on our State, Local, and Education customers. He has over 20 years of combined experience in security and web application development, as well as a Masters in Computer Information System Security from Boston University. Prior to joining Veracode he managed the Veracode Application Security program for one of our Fortune 100 customers.