Executives express mixed feelings and a surprisingly high level of confidence in Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report.
As we close out a year of headline-grabbing data breaches (British Airways, Under Armor, Panera Bread), the introduction of GDPR and the emergence of new application development architectures and frameworks, Radware examined the state of application security in its latest report. This global survey among executives and IT professionals yielded insights about threats, concerns and application security strategies.
The common trend among a variety of application security challenges including data breaches, bot management, DDoS mitigation, API security and DevSecOps, was the high level of confidence reported by those surveyed. 90% of all respondents across regions reported confidence that their security model is effective at mitigating web application attacks.
Attacks against applications are at a record high and sensitive data is shared more than ever. So how can execs and IT pros have such confidence in the security of their applications?
To get a better understanding, we researched the current threat landscape and application protection strategies organizations currently take. Contradicting evidence stood out immediately:
- 90% suffered attacks against their applications
- One in three shared sensitive data with third parties
- 33% allowed third parties to create/modify/delete data via APIs
- 67% believed a hacker can penetrate their network
- 89% saw web-scraping as a significant threat to their IP
- 83% run bug bounty programs to find vulnerabilities they miss
There were quite a few threats to application services that were not properly addressed, challenging traditional security approaches. In parallel, the adoption of emerging frameworks and architectures, which rely on numerous integrations with multiple services, adds more complexity and increases the attack surface.
Current Threat Landscape
Last November, OWASP released a new list of top 10 vulnerabilities in web applications. Hackers continue to use injections, XSS, and a few old techniques such as CSRF, RFI/LFI and session hijacking to exploit these vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Protection is becoming more complex as attacks come through trusted sources such as a CDN, encrypted traffic, or APIs of systems and services we integrate with. Bots behave like real users and bypass challenges such as CAPTCHA, IP-based detection and others, making it even harder to secure and optimize the user experience.
Web application security solutions must be smarter and address a broad spectrum of vulnerability exploitation scenarios. On top of protecting the application from these common vulnerabilities, it has to protect APIs and mitigate DoS attacks, manage bot traffic and make a distinction between legitimate bots (search engines for instance) and bad ones like botnets, web-scrapers and more.
63% suffered a denial of service attack against their application. DoS attacks render applications inoperable by exhausting the application resources. Buffer overflow and HTTP floods were the most common types of DoS attacks, and this form of attack is more common in APAC. 36% find HTTP/Layer-7 DDoS as the most difficult attack to mitigate. Half of the organizations take rate-based approaches (such as limiting the number of request from a certain source or simply buying a rate-based DDoS protection solution) which are ineffective once the threshold is exceeded and real users can’t connect.
APIs simplify the architecture and delivery of application services and make digital interactions possible. Unfortunately, they also introduce a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities as a backdoor for hackers to break into networks. Through APIs, data is exchanged in HTTP where both parties receive, process and share information. A third party is theoretically able to insert, modify, delete and retrieve content from applications. This is nothing but an invitation to attack:
- 62% of respondents did not encrypt data sent via API
- 70% of respondents did not require authentication
- 33% allowed third parties to perform actions (GET/ POST / PUT/ DELETE)
Attacks against APIs:
- 39% Access violations
- 32% Brute-force
- 29% Irregular JSON/XML expressions
- 38% Protocol attacks
- 31% Denial of service
- 29% Injections
The amount of both good and bad bot traffic is growing. Organizations are forced to increase network capacity and need to be able to precisely tell a friend from a foe so both customer experience and security are maintained. Surprisingly, 98% claimed they can make such a distinction. However, a similar amount sees web-scraping as a significant threat. 87% were impacted by such an attack over the past 12 months, despite a variety of methods companies use to overcome the challenge – CAPTCHA, in-session termination, IP-based detection or even buying a dedicated anti-bot solution.
Impact of Web-scraping:
- 50% gathered pricing information
- 43% copied website
- 42% theft of intellectual property
- 37% inventory queued/being held by bots
- 34% inventory held
- 26% inventory bought out
Multinational organizations keep close tabs on what kinds of data they collect and share. However, almost every other business (46%) reports having suffered a breach. On average an organization suffers 16.5 breach attempts every year. Most (85%) take between hours and days to discover. Data breaches are the most difficult attack to detect, as well as mitigate, in the eyes of our survey respondents.
How do organizations discover data breaches?
- 69% Anomaly detection tools/SIEM
- 51% Darknet monitoring service
- 45% Information was leaked publicly
- 27% Ransom demand
IMPACT OF ATTACKS
Negative consequences such as loss of reputation, customer compensation, legal action (more common in EMEA), churn (more common in APAC), stock price drops (more common in AMER) and executives who lose their jobs are quick to follow a successful attack, while the process of repairing the damage of a company’s reputation is long and not always successful. About half admitted having encountered such consequences.
Securing Emerging Application Development Frameworks
The rapidly growing amount of applications and their distribution across multiple environments requires adjustments that lead to variations once a change to the application is needed. It is nearly impossible to deploy and maintain the same security policy efficiently across all environments. Our research shows that ~60% of all applications undergo changes on a weekly basis. How can the security team keep up?
While 93% of organizations use a web application firewall (WAF), only three in ten use a WAF that combines both positive and negative security models for effective application protection.
Technologies Used By DevOps
- 63% – DevOps and Automation Tools
- 48% – Containers (3 in 5 use Orchestration)
- 44% – Serverless / FaaS
- 37% – Microservers
Among the respondents that used micro-services, one-half rated data protection as the biggest challenge, followed by availability assurance, policy enforcement, authentication, and visibility.
Is there a notion that organizations are confident? Yes. Is that a false sense of security? Yes. Attacks are constantly evolving and security measures are not foolproof. Having application security tools and processes in place may provide a sense of control but they are likely to be breached or bypassed sooner or later. Another question we are left with is whether senior management is fully aware of the day to day incidents. Rightfully so, they look to their internal teams tasked with application security to manage the issue, but there seems to be a disconnect between their perceptions of the effectiveness of their organizations’ application security strategies and the actual exposure to risk.