Securing the Enterprise is Critical in the Application Age

Digital transformation plans were accelerated in the past 12 months, and the reliance on digital tools by organisations to engage and deliver services has increased significantly.

security key to digital transformation
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Over the last 12 months, businesses have had to bring forward their digital transformation plans and complete technology projects in weeks or months rather than years. This rapid move to ‘innovate or be left behind’ has made security measures an afterthought for many businesses, despite increased reports of data breaches across both cloud and on-premise. In fact, a recent report released by BDO and AusCERT, highlighted businesses are failing to interpret their security threat landscape accurately as a result of rapid digitisation and accelerated by the rate of data breaches in Australia which has more than doubled year on year.

As businesses continue to grapple with multiple conditions presented by the pandemic, be it gearing up for economic recovery or adopting hybrid working models, they are becoming increasingly reliant on digital tools, such as applications, to engage with and deliver services to customers, which leads to large volumes of personal user data stored with them. 

These - plus many other mitigating factors - have created significant security challenges for most businesses in Australia. So what is application-led security and how can technologists leverage this approach to simplify vulnerability management in the face of growing IT complexity and bridge the silos across IT teams?

The case for an application-led approach to security

Today, applications are crucial to how businesses carry out their day to day operations. And whether they are running on-premise, in multi-cloud environments or in cloud-native microservices, they contain a huge volume of data that gets housed within an application instead of a centralised spot. This leads to businesses becoming more vulnerable to a data breach. And as pointed out in a recent AppDynamics report - Agents of Transformation 2021: The rise of full stack observability - cutting through the “data noise” to identify root causes of IT performance issues will also pose a challenge, according to 85 percent of Australian technologists. However, not all businesses are equipped to provide adequate security to safeguard their exposure to potential threats. AppDynamics believes in an inside-out approach, where application security tools automatically detect vulnerabilities and protect the IT landscape from within.

Think of the scenario. You’re responsible for security within an organisation. The entire business and its stakeholders rely on you to keep all digital services free from all types of security threats, but it is difficult to have a holistic view with silos that are so often present between application and security teams. Instead, security teams should be leveraging the intelligence they have available to correlate insights between teams for shared context. By bridging the gap between the application and security teams, technologists can identify vulnerabilities within the application during production, correlate vulnerabilities and breaches with business impact, and facilitate speedy remediation.

Security today needs to be application-led and part of the applications development lifecycle. It also needs to be continuous and automated, since applications are dynamic and change so often. It is a coordinated approach whereby security teams do not operate in silo. They share insights that contribute to solutions that are secure from the very core and offer high performance as required by the business.

How simple threat management can benefit your business

There is a need for businesses to have the ability to monitor security threats while business-critical applications are running. Typically, DevSecOps strategies provide risk-mitigating options after an application is released in the market. However, when looking at this with an application-led security lens, a business can react and respond to security threats before end users are negatively impacted.

Recently introduced to the market by AppDynamics and Cisco - Cisco Secure Application aims to drastically simplify vulnerability management, defend against attacks and protect applications - from the inside-out. It can protect businesses and users from attacks and vulnerabilities with unified business performance and security observability by correlating security and application insights through a single solution, thus giving a shared context that enables better collaboration.

Users benefit from reduced alert fatigue, real time threat detection, and automatic breach prevention. This solution provides IT teams with visibility into an application's true behaviour to easily detect attacks, identify deviations, and block attacks automatically. And by combining the insights from security and application topology and applying business relevance to security events, teams can focus on the incidents that matter most.

Intelligent application security

In today’s application age, it’s important that security is seen as an enabler, not a roadblock. Using a DevSecOps model with an application-led security approach helps create applications that are as secure as they are agile. It also means businesses are more streamlined and efficient because the necessary teams are working together throughout the development process. And with insights continually monitored and analysed, and responses better automated, security will be more intelligent and considered at every stage.

The pace of innovation is expected to accelerate over the next year as businesses continue to invest in technology to survive and grow in a post pandemic world. Security should not be seen purely as a defensive measure, but as a way to enable growth, innovation, and agility.

For more information on the Cisco Secure Application, please click here.

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