Looking back on all the application security discussions we have had with security practitioners in the past 12 months or so, there are five key trends that impact how enterprise firms seem to be addressing application security -- and increasingly they are looking to vendors for guidance here.
1. It's a multicloud/CDN world. A brief 12-15 months ago, many enterprise firms were focused on a single cloud provider, fast forward to today, and they are all looking at multicloud and multi-CDN. In our discussion we found that they are taking a multivendor approach for various reasons -- economic benefits, IT decentralization, preference for best-of-breed solutions, and more. In a multi CSP/CDN world, application security becomes a challenge because each vendor may or may not have an offering and if they do, it's unlikely they have the flexibility to address the architectural challenges that using multiple vendors introduces. Application security must keep pace with these changing architectures by supporting multicloud, multi-CDN environments with consistent features and functionality.
2. DevSecOps has to be as fast as DevOps. Powered by the elasticity of cloud environments, new automation tools and strong business advantages, enterprises are rapidly adopting iterative development methodologies where new or updated applications are deployed more frequently than ever before. On average, we see a typical consumer-facing application get updated every two weeks. Application security solutions must be "baked into" the workflow to ensure it does not slow down the pace of rapid development and deployment of applications. Solutions that require time-consuming application integration or inject any type of security-induced friction during deployment will not survive.
3. API use and the number of application endpoints has exploded. Following on trend #2, APIs simplify development and endpoint connectivity dramatically. Security teams are being asked to protect hundreds (sometimes thousands) of APIs and [application] endpoints used in web and mobile applications. For example, a small but rapidly growing social media customer of ours has roughly 30 different APIs/endpoints just for user log in. The result is a dramatic increase in the application attack surface area.
Application security must automatically cover all targeted endpoints accessible from the Internet and therefore the bad actors -- without injecting delay into the development lifecycle. In conversations with satisfied and happy customers of competitive vendors who require application instrumentation, it has taken between six months to two years to successfully protect their most critical application. Moving to the next phase of protecting hundreds of similar applications, they are daunted by the effort required to instrument each of these applications.
4. Microservices and serverless computing is exploding. We are seeing many firms rapidly moving towards using these new application development and deployment models because it allows them to achieve the ideal scale, agility and flexibility that fits their business needs. But like many other application technology trends and innovations before, security is too often an afterthought.
Application security must blend into these new deployment models, automatically discovering new applications being deployed in the service mesh and then protecting them, without forcing inorganic routing of all application traffic.
5. Data residency and data privacy are top of mind. With GDPR in place and new regulations like CCPA pending, data residency and privacy remain top of mind concerns for customers, especially when it comes to application security deployment models.
Application security solutions must be deployment agnostic, allowing companies to select the approach that best fits their data residency and privacy requirements. SaaS-only, or hybrid SaaS (analytics in the cloud) will face several key challenges in complying with these regulations such as the increased cost of a geo-distributed SaaS service and decreased efficacy due to limited application context forced by strict residency requirements.
We see enterprises continue to adopt application development and deployment innovations as a means of gaining a competitive edge. Simultaneously, attackers are innovating, using automation, a regularly refreshed supply of stolen credentials, expansive infrastructure and attack toolkits to target your public-facing web, mobile and API-based applications. Application security must address the five key trends in order to stay ahead of the attackers.
— Ameya Talwalkar is co-founder and chief product officer at Cequence Security. Over the last ten years, Ameya has built strong engineering teams specializing in enterprise and consumer security in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Madrid, Pune and Chengdu. Before co-founding Cequence Security, he was Director of Engineering at Symantec.