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Complete Guide to Application Security: Tools, Trends & Best Practice 

Long gone are the days when security wasn’t emphasized during application development, and it was mostly an afterthought for the developers. With the increasing number of cyber-attacks and end-user demand, security has become one of the top priorities during application development. 

Application security has become an important requirement for most organizations as it integrates security measures into software to protect it from various security threats. It helps discover, fix, and block security threats within applications and introduces a secure SDLC to ensure the confidentiality and availability of data. 

However, it is not all about introducing security measures; it is also about methodologies, best practices, tools, and processes to keep the app secured throughout its lifecycle. To provide you with an in-depth idea, we have created a detailed guide to the application along with the tools, trends, and best practices that you need to be aware of. 

Let’s get started from the grassroots level!

Why is Application Security Important?

Why is Application Security Important?

Also known as AppSec, application security is crucial in modern times as most applications are cloud-native and available over different networks. As a result, the applications are highly vulnerable to attacks and breaches by malicious attackers. 

The number of cloud-native apps grew with time, and security breaches got more advanced, so organizations understood security should be a continuous activity in SDLC. Nowadays, attackers focus more on cloud-native applications as they present an ideal attack vector, and there are many weaknesses at the application level. 

However, application security solves it by identifying vulnerabilities and preventing attackers from exploiting them. Besides, there are many other reasons that make application security important for every organization:

Securing Sensitive Information 

Every modern application handles a lot of sensitive information which includes personal information, and financial data. A security breach can compromise all this information. However application security helps in preventing such mishap and ensures data is never leaked or made vulnerable after the application is deployed.

Fixing Misconfiguration

Misconfiguration is one of the major concerns and according by Snyk in 2021, more than 56% of businesses have found misconfiguration in their cloud-native applications. Application security scans for these misconfigurations at every stage and ensures none of the vulnerabilities are present through its lifecycle.

Minimizing Breaches

It introduces security measures at every stage of development, ensuring a secure software development lifecycle. Since security is implemented at every stage it prevents any vulnerability reaching deployment and ultimately helping in minimizing breaches.

Staying Compliant

Application security plays a huge role in helping organizations stay compliant with specific industry regulations. By securing data and preventing breaches, it helps them avoid compliance violations and hefty fines.

Maintain Business Flow

Nowadays, most organizations rely on their applications to run their business operation. Safeguarding the application from any kind of threat through application security helps in maintaining the business flow and overall security posture.

Maintaining Customer Trust

Every application stores and processes a lot of customer data containing many sensitive information. Implementing application security helps organization enhance the protection of those data and maintain customer trust throughout.

As time goes by, application security is gradually expanding in the market and Forrester analytics that it might reach a $12.9 billion market cap by 2025. However to enhance security, application security requires implementation of shift left security culture and integration to DevOps. It also needs to adopt advanced tools that would offer complete security.

Application Security Trends 2024

In 2024, organizations saw a massive inflow of complicated and sophisticated cyber attacks that had a huge impact on applications. To counter it, different application security trends have emerged, and they are: 

Increasing Importance of Software Supply Chain Security

After the Log4J attack, there is an increase in demand for software supply chain security. Organizations are implementing security measures to discover gaps and enforcing advanced security measures at every stage of the supply chain. It is preventing attackers from exploiting faults in open-source repositories and links in the supply chain.

Asset First Approach

To enhance the application security and tackle modern threats, organizations are opting for a first approach. By leveraging ASPM tools, organizations are mapping their assets and making sure all the important assets of business applications stay secured throughout the lifecycle.

Incorporating ASPM Technology

In 2024, application security posture management is garnering a lot of attention as securing cloud infrastructure is getting more complex. 

Attackers are coming up with modern and sophisticated ways to infiltrate the cloud-native applications, making application security more complex. ASPM is making things easier for organizations and enhancing overall security.

Involving Configuration in Security

Cloud based applications serve as a gateway to cloud infrastructure so organizations are integrating IaC and infrastructure configuration to application security. Organization should involve application security testing orchestration that integrates security at every level of development from code to cloud configuration.

CISO Joining Executive Committee

CISO are gradually joining the executive committee especially in the USA as president Joe Biden has signed an Executive Order on America’s Supply Chain to enhance the overall cybersecurity in ICT industry. CISOs are taking high seats in different organizations as potential cyberattacks on applications are looming over different organizations.

Demand for More Involvement From CISO

With the current trend in application security, CISOs are expected  to offer more than what they are offering using the same resources. Due to this CISO are expected to come up with better people management and innovative technologies.

What are the Challenges of Modern Application Security?

What are the Challenges of Modern Application Security?

Modern application security has evolved in many ways, but despite all the advancements, it still faces many challenges globally. Here are some crucial challenges faced by modern application security:

Inherited Vulnerabilities

Inherited vulnerabilities are one of the biggest challenges faced by modern application security. Even though developers carefully handle most of the vulnerabilities, there are some vulnerabilities that inherently exist. 

It is mostly due to the fact that software systems are constantly evolving, leading to complexity, and applications require improvement to cope with the change. The presence of legacy code is another reason behind inherited vulnerabilities, and the security team should prioritize them to fix the legacy issues.

Lack of Relevant Skills

Another major challenge is the gap in the cyber security skill in organization leading to disparity in the application security measures. Every organization looks for security professionals with huge experience, but it is difficult to find experienced cybersecurity staff. As the demand is higher than the available option, organization have to hire freshers to look after application security. 

Legacy Security Approach

There are organization that still depend upon the legacy security approach where security scanning is implemented at the end of software development life cycle. 

However modern software development is all about speed and agility and the lack shift left approach has created an issue in modern application security. Organization have to involve security from the early stage of the development process and opt for the shift left approach.

Third-Party Libraries

In modern times, developers use a lot of third-party and open-source application libraries which carry a lot of vulnerable packages, making them a lucrative choice for attackers. 

Moreover the use of legacy third party libraries also pose a challenge to application security as they inherently carry numerous risks that can jeopardize the application workflow. Enforcing policies and using scanning tools can solve the issue and enable security teams and developers to identify new vulnerabilities.

Lack of All-in-One Vulnerability Tool

Despite advancement in security technology, still there isn’t one tool that can identify every type of vulnerability causing testers to get juggled between different tools. The complexity of using multiple security tools causes a challenge to application security. Moreover frequent occurrence of zero day vulnerabilities also adds to the challenges associated with application security.

Absence of Centralized Management

Not all application security comes with a centralized dashboard, and this prevents security teams from constantly monitoring application security posture. Having centralized management will enable security teams to address backlogs in a timely manner and track various metrics.

Insider Threats

Insider threats are one of the biggest challenges to application security as they are unknown vulnerabilities and can jeopardize the overall security. The application security renders useless when an insider threat occurs.

OWASP Top 10 Application Security 2021: Highlights

The OWASP Top 10 Application Security 2021 showcases top application security risks that developers need to avoid and take remediation steps to mitigate. 

OWASP came up with the list after researching 500,000 applications to make you aware of the top 10 vulnerabilities that your organization can address. CloudDefense.AI can serve as a valuable solution to most of the issues. Here are the highlights of the top 10 application security risks:

  • Broken Access Control: Broken access control is a severe risk to application security as it will allow attackers to get entry to all the assets of the application, infrastructure and other assets.

  • Cryptographic Failure: The lack of encryption or any kind of error in the encryption can make all the sensitive data in the application exposed to attackers.

  • Injections: Injection attack is an advanced attack that mostly occurs when the attacker runs malicious code, and the application is unable to distinguish between user input and its own code. It allows an attacker to obtain sensitive information from the database.

  • Insecure Design: Insecure design highlights design and architectural flaws that appear when security isn’t implemented from the start of the development.

  • Security Misconfiguration: Access control misconfiguration is a major issue that allows attackers to easily access sensitive customer information. Use of default credentials, inappropriate permissions, misconfigured HTTP headers and unnecessary feature activation are some common security misconfigurations.

  • Vulnerable and Outdated Components: Every modern application utilizes third-party components that have code which is not supervised by the organization and it leads to many security issues. When a vulnerability appears in a component, it can jeopardize the security application and allow attackers to gain access to the database.

  • Identification and Authentication Failure: Any improper implementation of function associated with session management and user authentication leads to vulnerability. The vulnerability usually causes exposure to security details, enabling users to impersonate, and gaining excess privilege.

  • Software and Data Integrity Failure: When an attacker interferes with the application or its associated database, it can cause a failure in the integrity of the software and data. Such failures also affect other components to not recognize their integrity.

  • Security Logging and Monitoring Failure: Absence of effective security logging and monitoring function can lead to a security breach. This aspect of OWASP top 10 helps organization to focus on identifying and resolving such security incidents through logging and monitoring.

  • Server-Side Request Forgery: It is a serious vulnerability that recently came into the limelight. Through this vulnerability, an attacker can utilize an unauthenticated URL to get access to data on a remote resource. It mostly happens when their user input is not validated from the server side.

The Three Tiers of Application Security Architecture

Every modern application architecture is segregated into three layers, and each tier comes with a unique set of risk profiles. Application security needs to address the risks of each tier and mitigate them. Here are the three tiers: 

The Top Tier

The top tier basically serves as the front end  through which an user interacts with the application. Front end serves as the face of the application so developers mostly focus on different functionalities to offer better performance and user experience to customers. 

However due to this the top tier of an application has its own set of risks which comes in the form of DoS and injection attacks. Application security needs to address all the issues that might jeopardize the top tier of the application.

The Middle Tier

The middle tier of an application serves as the section where all the user data is collected and processed. This tier serves as one of the critical sections of the architecture as any vulnerability or exploit can make all the vital data vulnerable to attack. 

Even tier-ed architecture of the application serves as a firewall between user and data, still proper security measures must be implemented to safeguard the data. Implementing effective access control can help the organization properly secure the middle tier.

The Bottom Tier

The backend of the application serves as the bottom tier of the architecture that composes containers, operating systems, cloud infrastructure, and other components needed to run the application. 

A breach in the bottom tier will affect not only the application but also the associated cloud environment, network, and other components of the organization. Effective security measures must be implemented, along with the secured configuration of the network and effective data encryption to safeguard the backend.

3 Key Pillars of Application Security

With advancements in technologies, attackers are also coming up with sophisticated attacks that pose a challenge to application security. Application security is based on three pillars: process, technology, and people, and each pillar has its distinct role in safeguarding the application. 

You need to understand the importance of each pillar to your business, which will help you evaluate your weak spots. Here, let’s take a look at all three pillars, along with the security measures you need to follow to support them: 


The process serves as a critical pillar of application security, which composes the principles, controls, workflows, and policies. All the application’s security processes should be properly defined and designed in a way that lowers any kind of risk. 

To ensure all the processes are free from any issue, they should be tested at the earliest, and if any issue arrives, they should be fixed. Keeping all the processes in a repository will be highly helpful as it will help you avert overlap in process. 

Adopting the shift left approach will help in supporting the process pillar because it will introduce security early in the development phase and also improve the approach towards security testing. Plus, DevSecOps should be empowered to identify potential vulnerabilities and mitigate them before they become severe issues. Implementing code review to uncover vulnerability will also empower the”Process” pillar.


The technology pillar indicates the security controls, processes, and training tools that aid in the protection of the application. Technology is evolving with time, and you need to understand the requirements of the technology in application security. 

You will have to explore new technologies and tools to understand how they can be useful for you and devise a tool roadmap. Utilizing tools like code scanning, integrated development environment, and intrusion detection systems can help you strengthen the pillar and ensure optimum protection. 

Code scanning tools help test codes to identify vulnerabilities, while IDE tools enable developers to write and test codes. IDS supports monitoring the network and identifying malicious activities.


People are the main driving force behind application security, and Process and Technology are only as strong as the People pillar of your organization. This pillar is meant to manage human risks associated with employee’s access to data, systems, and critical assets of the organization. 

An organization should invest heavily in their workers, especially developers and security teams so that they can cope with the evolving security landscape and understand modern threats. Everyone should be involved in the security of the application as it will enable the organization to uncover the tiniest issues. 

Conducting security awareness training and secure code training can help minimize human risks, especially issues like human error, social engineering attacks, and insider threats.

Types of Application Security Scanning Tools

When it comes to application security, scanning tools serve as an essential component that enables developers to properly assess the application. However, this tool isn’t of a single type, and you will come across different types of application security scanning tools having unique scanning capabilities. Here are six scanning tool types: 

Static Application Security Testing

SAST is a popular application security scanning tool that meticulously examines your source code and discovers vulnerabilities that might compromise the application. It is also known as white box testing that is usually incorporated in the coding and testing stage to scan the application before the code is compiled.

Interactive Application Security Testing

It is a type of application security scanning method that scans or tests your application for vulnerabilities while the app is being used by an automated test, a user or any simulation activity. It helps finding vulnerability in real-time as the sensor module and software libraries serve as the core aspect of this tool.

Software Composition Analysis

Software composition analysis is a widely used application security scanning tool that helps in analyzing and managing open source packages utilized by the application. It is an automated process that can not only identify vulnerabilities and provide alerts for available patches but also highlight licenses and all related components for risk assessment.

Dynamic Application Security Testing

It is a unique application security testing method that analyzes the security posture of the application by simulating attacks of different types while the application is running. It follows the black box testing method, where the application is tested from outside without any requirement for the source code.

Application Security Testing as a Service

Application security testing as a service is a specialized service where your organization hires an external security agency to perform all types of security testing on the application. 

ASTaaS enables developers to enhance the security of their code and eliminate all the threats including internal and external. It is usually a combination of static and dynamic analysis along with penetration testing, risk assessment and API testing.


Considered as a unique application security scanning method where it evaluates the application by inputting arbitrary data to seek for any potential issue. It is basically an automated software testing that injects random data to monitor for crashes and information leakage. It usually compliments most of the testing processes.

How CloudDefense.AI Helps With Application Security

CloudDefense.AI is a top application security solution that offers a suite of tools that integrate into your workflow to offer end-to-end security. This agentless platform offers comprehensive protection for your applications and helps you identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before they can jeopardize your application. This platform offers

  • SAST: CloudDefense.AI utilizes advanced SAST solutions to assess your code and conduct a comprehensive comparison of vulnerability between target nodes and sources.

  • DAST: This platform offers a next-gen DAST solution that utilizes automation and insights to uncover risks while the application is running.

  • SCA: CloudDenense.AI’s advanced SCA leverages real-time context and deep code analysis to proactively look for vulnerabilities and compliance issues within your application.

  • IaC: CloudDefense.AI empowers your developers with top-notch IaC scanning features and helps them focus on building the application without worrying about vulnerability.

  • API Scanning: This application security solution proactively protects your application by scanning the APIs for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.

  • Container Vulnerability Management: CloudDefense.AI also helps you look after the security of the containers through top-rated solutions that enforce vulnerability and policies to ensure optimum protection. 

CloudDefense.AI considers the safety of your application as its top priority and leverages advanced threat detection, rapid incident response, and other tools to offer comprehensive protection. 

With this platform, you get a custom dashboard that delivers DevSecOps with zero trust protection and also helps you safeguard third-party apps in real time. Compliance violation won’t be a headache because it utilizes Airtight Checklists for constant compliance.  

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Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist, currently co-founds CloudDefense.AI, a cybersecurity solution with a mission to secure your business by rapidly identifying and removing critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code. With a background in Amazon, Microsoft, and VMWare, they contributed to various software and security roles.
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