Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

3/10/2017
11:00 AM
Connect Directly
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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
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.
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-32606
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
In the Linux kernel 5.11 through 5.12.2, isotp_setsockopt in net/can/isotp.c allows privilege escalation to root by leveraging a use-after-free. (This does not affect earlier versions that lack CAN ISOTP SF_BROADCAST support.)
CVE-2021-3504
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in the hivex library in versions before 1.3.20. It is caused due to a lack of bounds check within the hivex_open function. An attacker could input a specially crafted Windows Registry (hive) file which would cause hivex to read memory beyond its normal bounds or cause the program to...
CVE-2021-20309
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11 and before 6.9.12, where a division by zero in WaveImage() of MagickCore/visual-effects.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file submitted to an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this vulnerability is to ...
CVE-2021-20310
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11, where a division by zero ConvertXYZToJzazbz() of MagickCore/colorspace.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file that is submitted by an attacker and processed by an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from this...
CVE-2021-20311
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-11
A flaw was found in ImageMagick in versions before 7.0.11, where a division by zero in sRGBTransformImage() in the MagickCore/colorspace.c may trigger undefined behavior via a crafted image file that is submitted by an attacker processed by an application using ImageMagick. The highest threat from t...