Application Security

3/10/2017
11:00 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Financial Institutions Less AppSec-Savvy Than You'd Think

New study shows banks all have policies in place, but lack metrics and good third-party software controls.

Financial institutions are known to have in place some of the most advanced application security practices and tools. Even so, a new benchmarking study out this week shows that even among these well-funded security programs there are still big gaps in their application security practices - a finding that should offer a clue as to the state of appsec at large.

The study found that while financial organizations almost universally have internal secure coding standards in place, most are hard-pressed to validate them. Additionally, fewer than half require their third-party vendors to have similar policies and standards.

Conducted among CISOs, the survey took a deep dive into common attitudes and practices across dozens of leading global financial institutions. The good news is that three out of four respondents reporte that application security is a critical- or high priority. And nearly all of them employ at least one kind of framework, standard, or maturity model to structure their application security program, with Building Security In Maturity Model (BSIMM) as the most popular, with an adoption rate of 89%.

However, digging further, the types of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) used to track the effectiveness of policies laid out by these standards betray a lack of sophistication in their appsec programs. The most common KPI used by the respondents was a simple vulnerability count, typically totaled up based on statistic analysis security testing and dynamic analysis security testing, a metric used by 77% of programs.

Meanwhile, only about 46% of organizations measure how long it takes to remediate vulnerabilities, just 38% of organizations track whether developer teams are even using the security tools mandated by policies, and only 15% measure completion of security requirements. Scarily enough, 15% of organizations don't track via metrics the effectiveness of their appsec programs.

The report noted that the overreliance on vulnerability counts could potentially be giving these organizations a false sense of security. According to Security Compass analysis, scanning by SAST and DAST tools alone probably miss about 46% of application-level risks. Though that number may be up for debate, other application security experts concur that there's a risk visibility gap left by relying on scanning alone. 

"When thinking about vulnerability management, most security practitioners think about it is terms of a what a scanner will find for them," says Jake Kouns, chief information security officer for Risk Based Security. "Most scanners are not looking for all vulnerabilities as they don't have the signatures to cover them, and they are also not comprehensive as they don't look for third-party library vulnerabilities."  

For the financial organizations queried for the report, third-party library vulnerabilities are just the start of third-party application risks left unaddressed. The study showed that 58% of respondents use at least some third-party software and 17% say they primarily rely on it. However, less than half of organizations require that their vendors have a secure software development lifecycle or application security policy. Additionally, only 38% of organizations were able to perform static or dynamic testing, and a measly 15% performed threat modeling or design reviews on third-party software.

As financial organizations grapple with the demands placed upon them to increase their customer-facing application portfolio for competitive demands, the weaknesses evidenced by this report shows that there's a lot of work ahead for them on the application security front.

"Application security teams within financial institutions need to design their security programs with the appropriate goals, governance and metrics," the report warned. "Firms should select security activities that meet their risk reduction and scalability goals. Simply selecting a set of best practices from a secure SDLC framework may not result in an ability to execute."

Related Content:

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
kasstri
50%
50%
kasstri,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2017 | 10:49:47 AM
keyboard
Thank you, ts really cool update!.
4g
100%
0%
4g,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/10/2017 | 12:50:53 PM
Right on the spot
I'm biased since i work for Cavirin, but we see the same.   Due to skill shortages, they need as much automation as possible.
New Free Tool Scans for Chrome Extension Safety
Dark Reading Staff 2/21/2019
Making the Case for a Cybersecurity Moon Shot
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  2/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-6485
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
Citrix NetScaler Gateway 12.1 before build 50.31, 12.0 before build 60.9, 11.1 before build 60.14, 11.0 before build 72.17, and 10.5 before build 69.5 and Application Delivery Controller (ADC) 12.1 before build 50.31, 12.0 before build 60.9, 11.1 before build 60.14, 11.0 before build 72.17, and 10.5...
CVE-2019-9020
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. Invalid input to the function xmlrpc_decode() can lead to an invalid memory access (heap out of bounds read or read after free). This is related to xml_elem_parse_buf in ext/xmlrpc/libxmlrpc...
CVE-2019-9021
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. A heap-based buffer over-read in PHAR reading functions in the PHAR extension may allow an attacker to read allocated or unallocated memory past the actual data when trying to parse the file...
CVE-2019-9022
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.2. dns_get_record misparses a DNS response, which can allow a hostile DNS server to cause PHP to misuse memcpy, leading to read operations going past the buffer allocated for DNS data. This affects php_parser...
CVE-2019-9023
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-22
An issue was discovered in PHP before 5.6.40, 7.x before 7.1.26, 7.2.x before 7.2.14, and 7.3.x before 7.3.1. A number of heap-based buffer over-read instances are present in mbstring regular expression functions when supplied with invalid multibyte data. These occur in ext/mbstring/oniguruma/regcom...