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
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
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.
kasstri
50%
50%
kasstri,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2017 | 10:49:47 AM
keyboard
Thank you, ts really cool update!.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/5/2020
How AI and Automation Can Help Bridge the Cybersecurity Talent Gap
Peter Barker, Chief Product Officer at ForgeRock,  6/1/2020
Cybersecurity Spending Hits 'Temporary Pause' Amid Pandemic
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  6/2/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: What? IT said I needed virus protection!
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13864
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
The Elementor Page Builder plugin before 2.9.9 for WordPress suffers from a stored XSS vulnerability. An author user can create posts that result in a stored XSS by using a crafted payload in custom links.
CVE-2020-13865
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
The Elementor Page Builder plugin before 2.9.9 for WordPress suffers from multiple stored XSS vulnerabilities. An author user can create posts that result in stored XSS vulnerabilities, by using a crafted link in the custom URL or by applying custom attributes.
CVE-2020-11696
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
In Combodo iTop a menu shortcut name can be exploited with a stored XSS payload. This is fixed in all iTop packages (community, essential, professional) in version 2.7.0 and iTop essential and iTop professional in version 2.6.4.
CVE-2020-11697
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
In Combodo iTop, dashboard ids can be exploited with a reflective XSS payload. This is fixed in all iTop packages (community, essential, professional) for version 2.7.0 and in iTop essential and iTop professional packages for version 2.6.4.
CVE-2020-13646
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
In the cheetah free wifi 5.1 driver file liebaonat.sys, local users are allowed to cause a denial of service (BSOD) or other unknown impact due to failure to verify the value of a specific IOCTL.