This report by Security Innovation and The Ponemon Institute measured security activities across each phase of software development, and identified gaps that create risk to the organization.
The primary finding is that there is a much higher percentage of executive-level respondents who believe their organization is following security procedures throughout the SDLC (software development lifecycle) than do the technicians who the ones executing those activities.
Amongst the findings:
- 71% of executives interviewed believe that application security training is available and up to date; yet, only 20% of technical staff had the same answer
- 67% of executives polled feel they have a mature application security program in place, compared to 33% of technical staff
- 75% of executives believe that secure architecture exists in their organization as opposed to 23% of technical staff
- 75% for Executives believe development teams are measured to determine compliance with secure architecture standards versus 23% of technical staff.
"This collective data has shown that many organizations do not yet consider the need to proactively do something about application security. These organizations either don’t realize that applications pose the biggest threat to their business, or they’re taking a ‘do the least amount possible’ approach," said Ed Adams, CEO of Security Innovation.
"Both mentalities are exactly the reason that hackers continue to target the application layer successfully; it is much weaker and easier to penetrate than network defenses. The technical staff seem to understand this; however, the executives, who hold the budget, clearly have a different perception," Adams added.
Most organizations do not identify, measure, or understand application security risks. Common characteristics of high-performing organizations with respect to application security include the creation or adoption of application security standards; training for the various roles, platforms and technologies; and regular assessments to identify shortcomings. This research confirms that most organizations are lacking in each area:
Standards and policies
According to the findings, most organizations do not have a defined software development process in place, and for those organizations that do, security policies and requirements are often ad-hoc and not integrated into the SDLC. Lack of consistent policies and requirements in place makes it difficult to identify and remediate security vulnerabilities. Only 43% have corporate application security policies and 42% say their organizations have formal security requirements as part of the development process.
Training and education
Despite the rapid change of technology and the rise of new platforms such as cloud and mobile, the majority of organizations do not have a formal application security training program in place. Related to this, more than 80% of technical staff report their organizations are not updating training and education programs for their development teams. Strikingly, between 66% and 71% of executives and directors think that they are updating internal training programs – and this is the group that approves budget spend.
Measurement and assessment
Despite the many public breaches and attacks that have been reported, most organizations are still not testing their applications for security. Only 43% of respondents say they have a process in place to test for vulnerabilities prior to release, and only 41% are using automated scanning tools to test applications during development. Additionally, only 42% subject applications to a manual penetration testing efforts by internal teams or by a third party. Leveraging third party security audits for high-risk applications is an indicator of a high-level of maturity.
The complete report is available here (registration required).
By subscribing to our early morning news update, you will receive a daily digest of the latest security news published on Help Net Security.
With over 500 issues so far, reading our newsletter every Monday morning will keep you up-to-date with security risks out there.