Sponsored by NT OBJECTives, Qualys, WhiteHat Security and Veracode, the survey reveals that awareness of risk is high across most organizations and that some form of policies are in place among 66% of the survey's nearly 700 respondents.
"This indicates that application security has grown out of its infancy and is becoming incorporated into policy," says SANS Analyst executive editor, Deb Radcliff. "The flip side is that there is that only two percent of survey takers have comprehensive, cradle-to-grave management of their applications."
The survey shows that organizations are managing multiple applications, yet 28% of respondents can't determine what applications are under their management.
Policies also vary for organizations that develop their own applications versus those managing commercial applications: Only 23% comprehensively manage development and lifecycle of applications they develop, and only 33% conduct extensive review of commercial applications prior to putting them into production.
Things get hazier when the discussion moves to outsourced or cloud applications, with only 22% relying on extensive testing and validation prior to production.
"Too many organizations are relying on their service providers and software vendors to 'do the right thing' when it comes to application security. This isn't enough," says SANS analyst Jim Bird, who coauthored the report. "They have to start taking more responsibility for securing their own software supply chains--especially bigger organizations with enough buying power to force real change on supplier behavior and accountability."
With regard to responsibility for application security, the survey allowed multiple responses. While most respondents put their C-level and managerial level IT and security professionals in charge of application security (83%) and 35% indicate that their development group is responsible. Another 33% said their risk and compliance managers were responsible. This is not surprising, given that, in another question, more than 40% of respondents selected compliance their top driver for their application security programs.
"Compliance has been a key driver to bring application security to a minimum initial baseline in many organizations," says SANS instructor Frank Kim, who also co-authored the survey report. "Mature processes coupled with skilled application security practitioners will be required to really expand the state of the art."
For full results of the survey, attend a special SANS webcast held at 1 PM EST on December 13. To register for that webcast, follow this link:
The full report will be released at that time in the SANS Reading Room at www.sans.org/reading_room/analysts_program.
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