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The Importance of Web Application Security and Data Protection

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Kristel Staci
August 26, 2019

Kristel Staci
Kristel Staci has written 2 articles for DomainInformer.
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The protection of your company information and that of your customer data should be of the utmost importance. It seems like every day we are hearing about a new data leak or hack that jeopardizes hundreds of thousands of user's personal information, and nothing is being done about it.

More often than not, this is just a PR disaster for the company at blame, and then a quick and swift fine from for the lack of protection and the data loss in place.

A perfect example of this can be seen with Uber’s poor handling of its 2016 breach, which ended up costing the company close to $150 million -- however, even after the data loss and leak, the company still has millions of users activity using their applications and ride sharing service daily.

With all of this in mind, the importance of web application security and data loss prevention is growing daily. As more businesses and brands continue to incorporate web applications and mobile apps into their daily operations, there is no better time to secure the protection of both your business and your customers.

Now let's take a look at some of the best ways to get there.

Using a Web Application Firewall (WAF)

The internet is not what it used to be. The number of people actually using a desktop or laptop to access information and purchase products online is decreasing at a rapid pace. Now it's all about applications and mobile devices.

For any businesses or brands that have already made the leap and is using such methods to connect users with their business, using a web application firewall isn't just a recommendation for protection -- it should be a requirement.

The way it works and protects against potential attacks and leaks is quite simple. By having a WAF in place, all incoming requests to an application are analyzed and inspected in real-time, while also stopping any unwanted requests and potential attacks.

WAFs are of great value to companies of all sizes, as they are compatible with secure cloud hosted and on-premises apps, while also having full integration with platforms like AWS and Azure.

As more reports of SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and remote file inclusion attacks grow in demand, a higher level of protection and security is necessary. WAFs continue to be one of the leading methods for protecting customer data and application use, not only for their superior protection, but also because of the ease of implementation.

Understanding Cloud Security Risks and Ownership

With cloud-based businesses and web applications always being at risk, it's not just a matter of what companies the applications are for -- but also, where they are hosted.

One might assume that the cloud hosting company you are using to host your application and store your data would help with the security process, but it's also been proven that they likely will blame any data loss or attacks on the end company as well.

This is something that has been discussed on, as they reference the following point:

"Cloud service providers do a great job of drawing the line between their responsibility and your responsibility. And so far, AWS has done a great job of always blaming their customers. So be forewarned."

—Jay Heiser, Gartner

So what does this means for organizations that are collecting user data, are taking advantage of cloud-hosting, and might also be vulnerable to attacks in the future?

In short, have as many precautions in place, and also don't rely on your hosting provider to backup data, prevent attacks, or not come after you should something happy.

The same article went on to discuss the importance of "cloud access security brokers", which they describe as "CASBs are to cloud as firewalls are to data centers."

When customer data and the importance of your business is on the line, CASBs would sit between an organization and the service provider -- thus applying polices, maintaining visibility, monitoring users, and other functions such as data loss prevention and threat protection.

This is an option that larger businesses might want to consider if they don't already have a tech support and data loss protection team in place.

Data Protection Tips for Businesses of All Sizes

Almost every business or brand on the internet is collecting some form of information. From complete user data for site or application registration, to credit card information on ecommerce sites -- or even just the collection of name and email address for a mailing list, it's important to make sure all data is properly collected, tracked, and protected.

When it comes to the protection of your personal and business data, this isn't something only Fortune 500 companies can afford to invest in. There are plenty of free and simple ways to start protecting your business on many different levels. This is something SmallBizTrends recently touched on, and they had the following recommendations for businesses of all sizes.

  1. If you collect it, protect it.
  2. Have a strong privacy policy.
  3. Know what you are protecting.
  4. Don’t underestimate the threat.
  5. Don’t collect what you don’t need.
  6. Keep a clean machine.
  7. Use multiple layers of security.
  8. Scan all new devices.
  9. Educate employees.
  10. Protect against mobile device risks.

One of the most important things to consider here, is that it's often not a matter of "if" a business will be attacked -- but simply a matter of "when". We can verify this by simply looking at any of the latest reports and numbers circulating from the top data protection and security companies in the world today.

According to Norton, mobile malware and data breaches are on the rise across the board. As more businesses rely on web applications and mobile usage to drive revenue and sales for their business, this also leads to an increased likelihood of a successful security attack.

It's reported that an estimated 33 billion records will be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023 -- up from 12 billion in 2018. Even worse, Juniper reports that more than half of these data breaches will happen within the United States by 2023.

No matter how big or small your organization is -- nor how much data it's collecting -- be sure to start implementing these data protection and security methods today to protect yourself from the oncoming wave of potential cyber security attacks on their way.

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