Understanding the Difference between Application and Software Security

Introduction

Among developers, security is a combination of application security and software security. Both aspects are aimed for, collectively, so that the organization may protect itself. 

Software security is a proactive approach that is used before project deployment, whereas application security is a reactive approach that is put into action once the product has been deployed. Ultimately, both are used to secure the organization in the initial phase and after the deployment phase, respectively.

Application Security and Software Security

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Application security is a part of software security. Applications provide the functionality where the data of the individual can be processed easily. Applications create a link between the user and the main application. These applications have different use-cases and also identify the data and its sensitivity.

Let’s take an example. Say we have a banking application called ABC, and the user wants to invest in a scheme that provides about 4% compound interest annually. The user needs to do a lot of calculations to estimate the maturity amount. If they want to invest for around five years, not knowing the results, this may also discourage them from investing. 

Now, the application provides an interface in which users can key in the amount they intend to invest and the period of investment, and the application will show the maturity amount. To invest, users need to enter some of their personal details. Unfortunately, software can’t recognize the sensitivity of the data, and it will transmit as it is. So when you talk about the security application, it will perform encryption before transmitting the data.

Therefore, data classification is done as part of the application security process and not in the software security application. Security also manages a couple of other things, such as authentication authorizations and data masking.

Software is built under the software development life cycle (SDLC) stages, and each stage will take some measurement according to data sensitivity.

Application Security—The Post-deployment Segment of Software Security

The SDLC is divided into several stages. So, to secure your software, you must undertake many duties, such as threat detection of the services that are being utilized, which is typically done during the design phase.

Pre-deployment methods also include coding guidelines, configuration procedures, and standard operating procedures, all of which are useful throughout software development. It also addresses a variety of issues, including data security, user authentication, and data security utilizing cryptographic operations, among others.

On the other hand, application security is part of the post-deployment phase. Once the application is deployed, it is time to secure the application while it is deployed. To make it more secure, the security team needs to develop some test cases and test the application on them. These test cases can be created based on business requirements and the environment in which the application is deployed. 

The security team also conducts source code review and logical testing of the application to detect anomalies that the developers may have overlooked when implementing the logic. This can help avoid a severe vulnerability that could endanger the organization and its users’ data.

Methods Used in Application Security and Software Testing

In both of the testing, we use different methods to perform testing. Let’s explore a couple of them:

Static Application Security Testing (SAST): In SAST, the application’s code is examined for vulnerabilities that may arise as a result of poor patching methods or a failure to follow compliance and guidelines.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST): In this situation, the working application is being evaluated. They look for logical problems that may have been overlooked during the source code analysis.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST): It’s a hybrid method that looks for vulnerabilities in the code and the working application itself using both SAST and DAST approaches.

Conclusion

Application security is the process of developing and implementing functionality through coding. Yet, these two aspects are insufficient to make our application safer. Administrators must safeguard the environment in which the program is installed, which falls under the software security umbrella.

If a company wants to be more secure, it must follow both these rules (application security and software security).

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