React.js Security Guide: Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Ways to Fix Them#Tech label
Cybersecurity is intangible at first glance. However, all the unique features, attractive UIs, and seamless performance won’t matter unless your app is secure. These saddening statistics prove the previous statement:
As you can see, without a proper security layer in place, your application will often fall victim to hacks and attacks, leading to numerous re-testing and re-development rounds. This also applies to applications based on React.js, the second-most in-demand web framework in 2020.
The most common React.js cyberattacks
According to Snyk, every time React.js makes an update, new security vulnerabilities that go unnoticed crop up. To this end, it’s impossible to encompass all possible cyberattacks that React.js (as well as any framework) might be vulnerable to. However, these four are the most common ones. Let’s explore them in more detail.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
XSS is an injection of a malicious script into the code of a web application. The browser picks up this script and interprets it as legitimate. After that, the malicious code is executed as a part of an app. Here’s what the process looks like when the attacker injects an XSS code to steal users’ and visitors’ session cookies:
A successful XSS attack might enable the perpetrator to capture user input to steal their credentials, steal sensitive data from the app’s pages, send requests to servers, and beyond. More often than not, an XSS that goes unnoticed can lead to the full compromise of an app.
XSS is often confused with SQL injection (SQLi). However, the two are not the same thing. Though both imply malicious code injections, XSS makes users vulnerable while SQLi targets the application itself.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DDoS attacks overwhelm a web app infrastructure with more traffic than it is able to handle. Their purpose is to make an application inaccessible and unavailable to its users. Some of the most common ways to conduct DDoS attacks are UDP, ICMP, SYN and HTTP request flooding. Because a server and a firewall must process each request and respond to it, an attacker tries to exhaust resources, such as memory and CPU processing time.
Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
XML External Entity Attack (XXE)
XXE attacks occur in web applications that use XML (Extensible Markup Language), the text-based language utilized for storing and organizing data in a web app. For transforming XML into readable code, an app needs an XML parser. Such parsers often fall victim to XXE injections. Using XXE, a perpetrator can perform a CSRF or DDoS attack.
The problem is that XML parsers are vulnerable to XXE by default, so it’s up to your development team to make sure that the code is free from such vulnerabilities.
React.js security vulnerabilities and solutions
As described above, XSS, DDoS, CSRF, and XXE are the most common cyberattacks when it comes to web applications. But what exactly allows malicious code to slip into such apps? Below, we will explore security flaws specific to React.js, those common for all frameworks, and ways to fix them both.
Vulnerabilities specific to React.js
When building a React-based application, you should watch out for the following vulnerabilities:
- Server-side rendering
- Dangerous URI schemes
- Escape hatches
Let’s discuss each one in more detail.
One of the most prominent advantages of React is SSR (server-side rendering). This feature ensures a faster page load, better performance, and ease of incorporating SEO. Unfortunately, it makes React apps prone to attacks. Here’s why.
Most React apps use Redux for app state management, which uses JSON, a lightweight data-interchange format, to set an initial app state:
This is dangerous because “JSON.stringify” will not recognize sensitive data or XSS code. Although the example above also has code to mitigate simple XSS attacks, it’s not a silver bullet by any means.
It’s also worth mentioning that SSR opens a way for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in third-party NPM packages.
Dangerous URI schemes
URLs without a “http:” or “https:” protocol can allow malicious code to sneak into your React application. If such a URL is hardcoded, it’s harmless. But if it’s provided by a user, it poses a potential React XSS threat.
Unfortunately, React.js security features neither prevent the use of such links during development nor provide built-in defenses against their potential threats. This means that it’s up to your development team to ensure that they are safe.
- Avoid URLs as input. For example, build an application that accepts YouTube video IDs instead of YouTube video URLs.
- If the above option isn’t possible, use the proven third-party tools, like Sanitize URL NPM package to sanitize these potentially dangerous links. Ensure that all your development team members use the same sanitation code.
Sometimes developers have to render HTML code coming from untrusted sources (user input, for example). The easiest way to render it in a browser is to assign it to the inner HTML attribute directly. Since it may cause XSS vulnerabilities, React.js limits its use by engaging the “dangerouslySetInnerHTML” property.
Unfortunately, this property doesn’t guarantee the code’s security and renders all the data whether its benign or dangerous. In fact, the role of “dangerouslySetInnerHTML” is to inform a developer that the code assigned to it might be insecure. Besides, it’s assumed that developers won’t use this feature without reading the documentation.
- Always sanitize dynamic values assigned to the “dangerouslySetInnerHTML” property with DOMPurify. Encapsulate this behavior in a security component and encourage developers to use it.
- Avoid using user-generated properties with the “createElement” API.
One of the key advantages of React is that it saves developers from manually putting data into the browser DOM to render components. However, there are cases when developers need direct access to the DOM elements.
For such scenarios, React offers escape hatches, such as “findDOMNode” and “createRef.”
Since an escape hatch returns the native DOM elements with their full API, the application can manipulate the element directly without going through React. This can lead to an XSS vulnerability.
- Don’t output the HTML code, only text.
- When a direct output is necessary, use proper DOM APIs to generate HTML nodes.
- Sanitize data with DOMPurify before putting it into the page.
Vulnerabilities common for all web frameworks
The React.js security fundamentals listed above are effective. But when it comes to preventing some of the most common cyberattacks, they are no panacea. Though React.js stands out from the other libraries and frameworks, it isn’t immune to security concerns common for all frameworks, such as:
- Authentication issues
- Broken access control
- Security misconfigurations
- Unreliably incorporated protection layers
- Lack of End-to-End encryption
- Third-party vulnerabilities
Compared to the server-side, the client-side is exposed to multiple actions performed by users. That’s why the client-side authentication and authorization often fall victim to security flaws. So, how can you prevent these flaws? Follow the checklist below:
- Even the smallest mismatch in the authentication of different IDs and passwords will lead to unauthorized users accessing authentication information. To this end, to avoid mismatches, make sure that the domain “WWW” header has a realm attribute that authenticates different users with separate code variables.
- Use authentication methods properly. For example, make sure that the “realm” attribute in the WWW-Authenticate header is set properly.
- Introduce multi-factor authentication.
- Use cloud-native authentication, like Azure AD or AWS IAM.
- Ensure solid credential recovery procedures.
To further secure your React authentication, consider the following:
- Utilize OAuth and JSON Web Token (JWT). For building a more secure authentication wall, the latter can be used along with the Redux authentication.
- You can also consider using Passport.js.
- Consider using the React Router library to secure your app against URL-related vulnerabilities.
Broken access control
Make sure that all the limitations and restrictions on authorized users are sufficient. Ignoring this rule can lead to any user being able to access unauthorized control features. Given that, consider the following:
- Provide role-based authentication only.
- Restrict functionality access.
Security misconfiguration & insufficient monitoring
Unfortunately, no framework follows all security measures by default. React is no exception. Vulnerabilities often occur as a result of incomplete security configurations or improperly built HTTP headers. Given that, it’s critical to incorporate security testing into the development process and conduct regular monitoring for security flaws during the entire lifecycle of your app.
So, how can you stay vigilant to your React app’s security configurations? Below are some tips:
- Configure your servers according to the documentation and best practices.
- Periodically revise security-critical configurations so they are set according to official documentation and prevent newly discovered vulnerabilities in that particular software.
- Conduct regular updates and upgrades in a timely manner.
Unreliably incorporated protection layer
Even a mismatch in APIs may lead to sensitive data exposure. To prevent this, follow our tips:
- Disable automated form caching and auto-filling features in security-critical UI components.
- Update the encrypted algorithms as soon as the latest version is available.
Lack of end-to-end encryption
Providing end-to-end encryption is critical. This type of encryption secures the data exchange between end users, being a user’s browser and your servers or between your distributed services. The lack of the end-to-end encryption accounted for the majority of data breaches in 2019.
In many cases, React alone has nothing to do with your app’s vulnerabilities. The use of third-party libraries, modules, APIs, and frameworks might allow security flaws to sneak into your application. Luckily, implementing the React web app security solutions listed below will protect your app against these “externally originated” vulnerabilities:
- Before incorporating any third-party components into your application, scan them for vulnerabilities.
- Conduct updates manually.
- Audit NPM packages for known vulnerabilities using npm-audit.
- Make sure that old versions of components are patched with the newer ones.
- Keep away from malicious packages.
React.js security checklist on other vulnerabilities and threats
|DoS and DDoS||During and after the development stage, scan the entire React app for known DDoS vulnerabilities. Install visitor identification. Use CAPTCHA or JS tests against DoS.Consider tools like Cloudflare to mitigate possible and ongoing DDoS attacks.|
|CSRF and arbitrary code execution||Use JWT tokens for session management.Make sure that your application reads only the stored CSRF tokens.Ensure it generates only relevant headers upon authentication.|
|XXE||Avoid serialization of confidential data.Make sure that the XML parsers are updated.Use SAST tools to scan your code for XXE.|
|SQLi||Validate API call functions against respective API schemas.Escape all incoming data or use proven ORMs.|
Let us help you secure your React.js app
As you can see, securing a React web application is a complex process, which requires several (it depends) cybersecurity experts specializing in React.js. Still, if you don’t have these in your in-house team, you have at least two options to choose from. You can hire cybersecurity developers them from scratch or outsource the task to a software development vendor, such as Relevant Software.
Due to our security-first thinking, we have helped multiple companies comply with the OWASP’s Top 10, GDPR, and ISO 270001. With React.js and Node.js being our main tech stack, we’ve built more than 100 secure web applications, which you can find in our case studies.
With that being said, whether you are looking for QA engineers to test your existing React.js solution or need experts to build one from scratch with all security measures in mind, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
How to Scale Frontend with Micro Frontends Architecture#Tech label
Every web service is bound to become a real nightmare as it grows. The codebase gets lengthier, the development team expands and the time spent on new feature deployment increases. While modern microservices architecture helps web applications become scalable, it still doesn’t seem to solve the issues entirely. And the reason is – the large frontend monolith hanging above all the microservices.
Luckily, you can unlock microservices’ full potential by applying this pattern on both the backend and frontend of your application.
Read further to find out how it works and what benefits micro frontends can bring you.
What are micro frontends?
Micro frontends come from the combination of microservices and frontend. In short, it means applying the microservices pattern to the application’s UI, aka breaking the frontend monolith into several units. A micro frontend usually corresponds to a certain business subdomain of the app and is customer-focused, for instance, Customer Checkout or User Profile.
By breaking the frontend into small pieces, micro frontends ensure the application’s scalability. Each micro frontend is autonomous which means you can maintain and deploy them independently. It also means you can develop micro frontends in parallel by different teams. And when the application grows, you can easily scale your development alongside it.
What are common problems with app scaling?
Your service is bound to reach the point where it needs scaling. The question is – will you do it seamlessly or have many losses along the way. For some applications, such as SPA (single page applications), scaling is beyond challenging.
In a monolithic app, you cannot change a small part of the app independently – the entire system has to be scaled altogether. So if you need to handle a traffic increase, you must modify the whole monolithic service. What’s the result? Wasting gobs of time and resources on system updates.
You can make your app more scalable by applying microservices architecture to the back of your app. But the result will still be far from perfect because of the frontend side. The monolithic frontend will cause delays and never let you deploy your app with a click of a button. On top of that, with a single frontend codebase, scaling your team will be difficult. The reason is, every new team member will find it tough to work with a large codebase.
With micro frontends architecture, you slice your application vertically. You create autonomous elements that are in essence micro applications inside one big web app. This gives you teams that are responsible for certain units and their end-to-end development, instead of frontend and backend being separate. You can scale the needed parts of the system only and deploy them independently. With this type of on-demand scaling in place, you’ll get fast updates, system stability, and a great user experience.
Principles of micro frontends
Let’s take a look at the key principles behind micro frontends.
Just like microservices, micro frontends are autonomous. They are loosely coupled and interact with each other via an API, which allows you to modify and deploy them independently. Multiple teams build them in parallel without sharing the codebase.
Your teams should apply automation where possible. It will make the entire system less complex and help save time.
Although there are separate teams working on each micro frontend, their units will have to become a whole at the end. The website or web app must provide a consistent user experience. For that matter, you should orchestrate micro frontends properly.
Example of micro frontends
Let’s glance at a simple micro frontends application. The image below is a food delivery website where customers can choose various meals.
You can notice several vital elements here – a landing page with search options, restaurant pages with menus, discounts, and meal deals, as well as a profile page that displays information related to the customer’s account, like order history.
In this case, we can build micro frontends in a single container app. A micro frontend will correspond to one website’s page, while the container application will address cross-cutting concerns (such as authentication), render common elements and bring micro frontends together on the page.
Microservices in the frontend – why?
Why should anyone consider building a micro frontends application? The reason is simple – they offer many fundamental benefits.
Micro frontends benefits
Let’s discuss the main perks of using micro frontends:
- Parallel development
Perhaps the greatest benefit of micro frontends is the ability to develop them in parallel. Several teams can build their small apps simultaneously without interfering with one another’s work. Parallel development leads to fast time-to-market, as well as quick updates and feature releases. So if you want to build your application lightning-fast, go with micro frontends.
- High scalability and flexibility
With micro frontends, you build a highly scalable application. Small parts of the system can be scaled both up and down as needed. Your development teams can also introduce any changes in micro frontends without sacrificing the entire web app’s performance.
- Freedom to innovate
Micro frontends’ autonomy means freedom in choosing your tech stack. Each team can pick the technologies that are suitable for certain tasks and their business domain needs. This enables using the latest and most beneficial technologies in the project.
- Great development culture
Micro frontend architecture helps establish a great development culture. In micro frontends, each cross-functional team is responsible for a small application. In other words, every team owns its micro app, resulting in developers being more engaged in the process and delivering better results.
Downsides of micro frontends
Unfortunately, like any other approach, micro frontends have a few tradeoffs:
- Payload size
With autonomous micro frontends built by different teams, you’re bound to face the duplication of dependencies. While these will increase your web app’s payload size, your app pages will still download faster than those of monolith’s. So you can stop worrying about duplicated dependencies – unless the application performs terribly. In this case, you’ll need to measure the impact and find out whether externalized common dependencies will solve the issue.
- Environment differences
Since your small apps will be developed separately in different environments, you may encounter issues when deploying them. Micro frontends sometimes behave differently inside the container app. For this reason, you should test them in a production-like environment before launching them to the audience.
- Operational and governance complexity
With many small applications and teams, micro frontends are incredibly complex. The number of different tools, repositories, servers, and pipelines makes it hard to manage and orchestrate all the pieces. So be sure you’re capable of maintaining any additional infrastructure and scaling your development processes.
How are micro frontends implemented?
There are several strategies for implementing micro frontends, so you can choose the one that matches your needs the best.
If you already have a web app, you’ll start by figuring out how to divide your monolith into separate micro frontends. But different apps require different approaches.
- As for implementation, you can compose many micro frontends into one app in various ways. One of them is build-time composition. Here, micro frontends are treated as dependencies and composed via package manager npm.
- Another way is to deploy each micro frontend independently. That means each micro frontend will have its own URL so it can be assessed independently. Alternatively, you can use server-side composition, which provides high efficiency and speed.
We can help you scale your application
At Relevant, we understand the importance of creating a scalable web application. For more than seven years, we’ve been helping businesses across the globe build flexible and up-to-date solutions. Our experienced engineers can assist you in scaling your application by applying micro frontends.
We provide product development services that cover website development, end-to-end. Before building your micro frontends solution, we will gather your requirements, conduct research, and make estimates. We will plan our product development carefully, design a scalable solution with your brand’s identity in mind, and build a micro frontends application using the most suitable technologies. Moreover, our full-cycle product development covers testing, deployment, and maintenance.
Alternatively, if you need to break an existing app into micro frontends, you can hire a dedicated team of professionals. We can assemble a team with the skills and level of expertise that match your requirements. And if you need to find a team responsible for a micro frontend or multiple cross-functional teams to scale your app, we’ve got you covered there as well. In fact, we can help you find a React or Angular engineer in just two weeks. Our software developers are ready to help you boost your in-house development and deliver the expertise you need.
Everyone knows that microservice architecture offers numerous benefits. But the truth is, microservices UI is still the main bottleneck. To overcome this issue, you should consider applying the same microservices’ principles to your app’s frontend. The result will be a micro frontends application composed of small independent applications.
Today, in the micro frontends vs. SPA battle, micro frontends apps take the lead. Why? Because they have proven to be scalable, flexible, and cost-effective. They accelerate development significantly and establish an excellent development culture. What more could you want?
If you are ready to reap the benefits of micro frontends, contact Relevant. We’ll help you make the most out of this innovative approach.
How to Implement Machine Learning in Healthcare [6 Real Cases]#Tech label
Today, healthcare companies face many challenges, including a low rate of patient engagement with their own healthcare and compliance with treatment plans, such as filling prescriptions, making behavioral changes or attending follow-up appointments.
In a survey of more than 300 clinical leaders and healthcare executives, more than 70% of respondents reported having fewer than 50% of their patients highly engaged.
Some 42% of respondents said fewer than 25% of their patients were highly engaged.
This has implications not only for patient wellbeing but also for healthcare organizations, which may lose business opportunities and revenue. Technologies such as Machine Learning applied to healthcare can help resolve this issue.
In this article, we will show how ML technology benefits healthcare organizations and how they can put ML technology into practice.
Machine Learning in Healthcare Makes Companies More Effective and Cost-Efficient By:
1. Cutting costs
Using Machine Learning in healthcare can actually cut tech costs.
For instance, Quotient Health, a Denver-based company, “reduces the cost of supporting EMR (electronic medical records) systems” using ML-based software.
The company is improving care at lower cost by optimizing and standardizing the way those systems are designed.
2. Improving staff efficiency and productivity
Machine Learning in healthcare helps doctors improve their efficiency and speed delivery of treatment to patients.
PathAI’s patented technology, for example, helps physicians make accurate diagnoses and identify the most useful therapies for a particular patient.
3. Decreasing risk
Machine Learning allows healthcare organizations to reduce the human factor in data processing and related risks.
For example, BioSymetrics’ ML-based system “enables customers to perform automated ML and data pre-processing.”
Organizations in a wide range of fields such as biopharmaceuticals, tech, and healthcare can automate routine tasks and increase their accuracy.
How Healthcare Companies Can Implement Machine Learning
Let’s look at some ways healthcare organizations can implement Machine Learning and put it into practice.
1. Improving disease identification and diagnoses
From detecting cancer in the early stages to dealing with common infections, Machine Learning technology can help with detecting the disease and making a diagnosis.
For example, in oncology, the biopharma giant Berg leverages AI to create and develop therapeutic treatments.
IBM Watson Genomics integrates genome-based tumor sequencing and cognitive computing to speed up diagnosis.
2. Drug manufacturing and discovery
One great application of Machine Learning in healthcare may be in the early stages of discovering new drugs.
Precision medicine and next-generation sequencing may improve the delivery of current treatments and help find alternative options.
Microsoft developed Project Hanover, which uses ML-based techniques for a variety of initiatives, such as personalizing drug combinations for AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and is developing AI-based technology for cancer treatment.
3. Improving medical imaging diagnosis
A technology called Computer Vision combines Machine Learning and Deep Learning to help the InnerEye initiative work on image diagnostic solutions.
As Machine Learning in healthcare becomes more widespread, healthcare organizations can improve their diagnostic processes by receiving data from new sources and making this data more visible and accessible.
4. Personalizing healthcare services
Personalized treatment is made more effective using predictive analytics. It can also boost future medical developments and research.
At the moment, doctors rely on the patient’s medical history and symptoms to choose from a limited number of known treatments. ML technology can be valuable in this context.
IBM Watson Oncology helps study cancer patients to quickly offer multiple treatment options.
In the future, a variety of biosensors, systems, and devices will help collect patient biometric data to personalize treatment and make it more effective.
5. Machine Learning helps create smart health records
Processing and storing large volumes of medical data is a time-consuming, exhaustive process that can be greatly simplified with the help of technology.
In this area, Machine Learning can save costs and worker time.
MATLAB’s machine learning-based handwriting recognition technology and Google’s Cloud Vision API are working in this direction, developing vector machines and various document classification methods.
6. Assisting in clinical trials and research
Machine Learning technology has several potential applications in the sphere of research and clinical trials.
Any professional involved in clinical research knows this is a long and expensive process that typically takes years.
Applying Machine Learning–based predictive analytics can help identify potential clinical trial candidates.
That helps researchers build a pool of suitable patients based on their medical history, visits to doctors, complaints, medical records, and so on.
Second, Machine Learning in healthcare can be used in the research itself, making it more productive and reducing risk by removing the human factor in data analysis.
The Prognos Registry, for example, contains 19 billion records for 185 million patients.
Using Machine Learning, Prognos’s AI system highlights opportunities for clinical trials, pinpoints therapy requirements, facilitates early disease detection, and notes gaps in care and other factors for a number of conditions.
Today, healthcare companies face many challenges that can be addressed with Machine Learning technology. It can help such organizations reduce their risks and costs, as well as increase staff efficiency.
In practice, any healthcare organization can implement ML technology and make it part of its work processes. Healthcare companies can implement Machine Learning to:
- Identify diseases and diagnosis
- Assist in drug manufacturing and discovery
- Create smarter medical imaging diagnosis
- Personalize the healthcare experience
- Store and gather smart health records
- Assist in clinical research and trials
If you want to learn more about the application of Machine Learning technology or want to start developing a project, feel free to contact us.
Mobile IoT Apps and All You Need to Know About Them#Tech label
How frequently have you doubted whether or not you had switched off an oven or left a door locked? Now, devices can make it easy for you to check, and even remind you of every action you have to take. For example, you can control devices remotely from your workplace or from anywhere.
This article is about mobile IoT applications. We’ve decided to prepare this FAQ guide explaining what IoT is and why we need mobile applications for it. The answers will give you an insight into how IoT mobile apps work and how we can get the most out of this trend.
What Is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of cross-connected, wireless devices with access to the Internet.
These devices can collect, send and act on data they acquire from the surrounding environment or share among each other. It is possible due to embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware.
The idea of IoT isn’t new. Way back in 1989, John Romkey and Simon Hackett connected a toaster to the Internet. The toaster could only turn the power on and off, thus regulating the darkness of the toast by adjusting cooking time.
In 1991, the system was improved: a small robot, also controlled via the Internet, was added. It could pick up a slice of bread and drop it into the toaster.
Today the list of existing and possible IoT gadgets is endless.
Why Is Mobile IoT the Hottest Trend?
IoT has penetrated almost all spheres of life. It has its greatest impact on residential construction, healthcare, logistics, and environmental care.
In early 2019, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted worldwide spending on the Internet of Things was going to reach $745 Billion. By 2020, 5.8 billion IoT endpoints are expected to be in use, as Gartner predicts.
IoT technologies keep people informed and save them time, which would otherwise be spent on the routine.
Consider Nest Protect, a smoke detector that signals when something in your house goes wrong and sends alert messages to your phone. The detector has sensors that can gauge how fast a fire is spreading and guard against false alarms. It can also distinguish between smoke and steam.
Nest Camera displays a picture of your room – in real-time – and notifies you if there are movements or sounds. Through this camera, accessible via a mobile phone, you can talk to your homies and even burglars when they break in.
There are a number of companies producing smart locks that will notify an individual if someone entered the house in his or her absence. Also, wherever we are, IoT software and devices enable the door locking option right from our mobile phones.
IoT trend is associated with changing lives for the better. The reality of interconnected appliances that all of us can access from anywhere is too attractive to do without.
How Are IoT Devices and Mobile Apps Related?
A mobile app is a medium between an IoT device and a mobile phone. The app works as the primary interface through which we can manage smart things.
Mobile IoT apps supplement and enhance the use of IoT to make it work more efficiently.
For example, your phone can alert your coffee machine that you are nearby, so it can start making coffee right before your arrival.
“Okay, but IoT devices can be managed from desktops. Why should I have a mobile app?” you may ask.
- Mobile phones are more suitable for remote access from wherever you are.
- Smartphones are fully-loaded with a lot of different sensors. They have more connectivity options, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others.
With the help of mobile IoT apps, phones can deliver geolocation information to your smart home devices.
For example, Tado controls home heating. The app tracks your position, and, when you are somewhere near home, it starts heating or cooling the house before your arrival.
These features make smartphones the most convenient devices for management of IoT technologies.
What is a “Smart Home?”
A “smart home” is an integration of home electronic devices into a united, remotely controllable system, through mobile IoT apps or wall panels.
The advantage of the smart home is that it can combine a lot more features than a single separate unit. Respectively, the application will have much greater capabilities than a single thing: management of climate control systems, lighting, multimedia, security and surveillance, shutters, door locks, etc.
We have already described such devices (Nest Cam and a smoke detector). Let’s look at some others.
The Nest System is a Wi-Fi enabled platform that can be remotely controlled with the help of a mobile IoT app. It includes cameras, a thermostat, and a smoke alarm. There are a lot of products that can be connected with Nest devices, including smart ovens, beds, wearables for keeping fit and so on.
Apple HomeKit is a system of household devices and appliances managed directly from iPhone or iPad. For example, you can switch on/off the light in any room you want, lock doors, change temperature, etc. Using Siri, users can group functions together and trigger described actions.
What’s Special about a “Smart City?”
Smart cities can help reduce waste and improve the efficiency of utilized resources. The system can deliver clean water, solar power, save gas and electricity.
Here are some vivid examples of Smart City technologies.
Amsterdam has been one of the most progressive cities in implementing smart and intelligent systems.
There, a sensor-based system called Twilight, is used. The system helps reduce energy consumption through remote programming of city lights; i.e. the light is turned on only when a person, a car or a bicycle appear.
Twilight sensors also monitor traffic density, gather data and present it in the form of heat maps. An individual who has access to this data through a mobile application can change routes in case of a traffic jam.
Masdar City, a zero-waste, zero-carbon city in the desert of the UAE.
Masdar is developing a sustainable eco-city. Movement sensors will replace light switches and water taps, and help reduce electricity and water consumption.
The construction of Masdar began in 2008 and is scheduled for completion in 2025. It is expected that electricity supplied by a concentrated solar power plant will power a transportation system of the city that is 100% electric. Each household will be connected to a network, which monitors energy consumption.
How to Use Mobile IoT in Logistics and Transportation?
Today, a lot of IoT applications and devices for logistics exist. These apps are highly popular, as they allow tracking of every move of different vehicles, building smart routes, and reducing costs.
Usually, a tracker acts as an IoT device in logistics for vans, cars and trucks. Look how it works.
The Gurtam company, for example, offers GPS-tracking, online monitoring, fuel consumption control and tachograph control in the area of logistics and delivery.
Using an app, firms can monitor where trucks are located, the distance the truck has covered and the current volume of fuel in the tank.
DHL actively uses new IoT technologies, according to the information from the DHL Trend Report.
With the help of IoT technologies, namely, digital twins, DHL uses digital models to better understand and manage physical assets. Such an approach has the potential to significantly change logistics operations.
Also, such market giants as Google, Apple, Tesla, Uber, and Lyft are all investing significant amounts of money into building cars that will eventually be driverless.
How is Mobile IoT Affecting Healthcare?
IoT changes healthcare today. It offers the opportunity to react to any changes in a patient’s health status faster and make predictions of the course of the disease.
Additionally, IoT enables monitoring of medical equipment which results in their prompt repair or replacement.
There are a lot of mobile IoT applications and devices available for personal use.
For example, a blood glucose meter iHealth Smart Glucometer can control blood sugar levels and send measurement results to the smartphone. The application can monitor changes in blood sugar throughout the day, week, month, set reminders for glucose measurements or medication, send measurement statistics by e-mail or share the results on social media.
AdhereTech wireless pill bottles measure patient’s adherence to medication.
These bottles collect (with the help of numerous sensors) and send information about the frequency of taking pills and its schedule in real-time. If doses are missed, patients can receive alerts on the phone using automated phone calls and text messages.
What Are the Prospects of Mobile App Development for IoT?
The amount of connected devices is growing every day, and so, too, does the number of IoT mobile app developers and software providers.
A recent survey, conducted by IoT Analytics, states that in 2019, there were 620 publicly known IoT platforms, compared to 450 in 2017.
The Eclipse Foundation made a report based on a survey of 1,700 application developers regarding their experience with the Internet of Things.
According to those surveyed, “65% of respondents are currently working on IoT projects professionally or will be in the next 18 months.”
Also, the most interesting areas currently served by IoT devices include IoT Platforms, Home Automation, and Industrial Automation / IIoT. The success and the availability of devices like the Nest spread consumer adoption of IoT devices.
Start building your mobile IoT app
Mobile applications act as mediators between IoT devices and humans.
The main reason why mobile apps are at the frontier of IoT is that our smartphones are always at hand. Also, smartphones have many sensors that provide a great opportunity to manage “smart devices.”
For individuals, mobile IoT apps give them control over their home. People can manage their daily routines and enjoy both their work and home environments.
In the realm of governance, mobile applications that regulate IoT devices ensure control over an entire city. They help reduce energy and water consumption and lead to optimization of city infrastructures.
Healthcare, logistics, and transportation companies gain profits and manage business processes with the help of IoT and mobile devices.
The market for IoT mobile apps has great prospects. It is predicted that investments in IoT, as well as the number of connected devices and mobile applications, will continue to grow significantly.
Contact us today to get an estimation for your mobile IoT application development.
Application Performance Monitoring: When and How to Do It Right#Tech label
In 2020, app users expect an app to run smoothly and don’t tolerate glitches that waste their time. This makes application performance monitoring (APM) a mandatory procedure every vendor should implement and master. Do you want to learn how to improve the user experience of your application and prevent performance issues?
Learn the whys and hows of APM in this post. You will also find an overview of the five most popular APM tools and APM best practices here.
What is application performance monitoring?
Let’s begin with the definition of application performance monitoring. Gartner defines APM as a suite of monitoring software comprising digital experience monitoring (DEM), application discovery, tracing and diagnostics, and purpose-built artificial intelligence for IT operations.
Simply put, APM is a set of actions and software that checks the well-being of an app based on its availability, responsiveness, and behavior.
Why is application monitoring important?
When it comes to modern app users, patience isn’t their strong suit. They just delete the poorly-performing application and find a better substitute. But if users encountered no bugs or glitches, you, as a business owner, wouldn’t have to dread the consequences of malfunctions or vulnerabilities, which can range from customer loyalty decline to lawsuits.
Modern apps are complex, and the users are demanding, so APM is like a heart rate monitor of your product. Fitting APM helps not only to eliminate existing issues but also to prevent various issues from scaling and even emerging.
Why is the lack of logging and monitoring a vulnerability?
You may be thinking: “How essential APM is when many digital businesses simply ignore it and get along?” And you are right – they do get along without APM. For a while, until a critical error or two hinders further operations. Let’s take a closer look at what poor logging monitoring can cost your company.
Attackers know that many application developers do not provide sufficient logging and monitoring. What’s even worse, they know how to exploit this. As a rule, attackers start with vulnerability probing. If they succeed, hackers can exploit the app’s vulnerability as much as they want. Unfortunately, such attacks are often detected when the damage is irretrievable.
At this point, you probably start to wonder if your app has any weak points. Well, it’s not perfectly secure if:
- Logging and alerting events are visible to users and potential attackers
- Poor logging, insufficient monitoring, and active response emerge in your app at any moment
- Logs are stored only locally and aren’t monitored for questionable activity
- Logs do not include information on failed and successful logins, as well as critical transactions
- The application does not detect or inform you about attacks in real or near real-time
- Thresholds of alerts and escalation of responses are not appropriate
- Errors and warnings trigger no log messages, or they are confusing
- Penetration testing does not trigger any alerts
- Scans by Dynamic Application Security Testing tools (DAST) do not trigger any alerts
It’s a lot to keep an eye on, isn’t it? Don’t worry: APM tools can do the work for you and help you keep your app safe. Let’s dig a little deeper and discuss what APM tools measure.
What do APM solutions measure?
APM solutions monitor the behavior of apps, collect information on any issues, analyze it, and alert you about the impact of such problems on your business. With APM software’s help, you can fix similar issues sooner than they affect your app users.
APM tools monitor resource usage like the memory in use and disk IO performance, and you know how essential it is to ensure a CPU does not bottleneck the system. They also track average response time to figure out if the response speed negatively influences the performance of your app.
In addition to that, APM tools measure error rates, help you identify what causes errors during memory-intensive processes and pinpoint the areas that need optimization. APM calculates the number of your server and app instances and monitors your app’s availability in real-time.
To top it off, APM tools monitor performance degradation related to heavy memory usage. They keep track of user experience and can even measure user satisfaction or tolerance when interacting with the app.
There are many approaches and techniques in APM. Based on a particular solution, APM can include the following processes:
- Network monitoring. APM solutions check app availability and performance based on network traffic.
- Real user monitoring (RUM). This is a process of analyzing the digital experience of real app users. APM tools check how end-users interact with the app and what happens at every interaction.
- Synthetic monitoring. During this process, an APM monitors the app in the conditions of standard times with the help of the data received from previous time studies.
- Distributed tracing. APM solutions monitor the application execution on the code level.
As you can see, APM tools collect various data on performance to help you improve it and eliminate issues that interfere with a smooth user experience.
APM implementation best practices
Successful APM implementation requires some ground knowledge. Let’s go through the points one should keep in mind before and during APM implementation.
Connect AMP to business processes
Choosing among modern AMP solutions can be overwhelming. When looking through potential solutions, make sure they can give you a full picture of your app and your business performance. A well-fitting APM should help you connect main business transactions with the outcomes your business gets.
Concentrate on configuration and deployment
To ensure the flawless operation of an APM tool, your development team must focus on configuration and deployment. They should know the app dynamics perfectly to be able to configure it. After you’ve improved your app’s visibility, it’s much easier to figure out what aspects of the product need enhancement.
Be open to options
Sticking to one method of doing things isn’t a good idea in the rapidly changing digital world. When it comes to APM, variety is your friend. Rather than relying on traditional methods of monitoring, implement synthetic transactions. Accompany them with manual instrumentation, and keep customer feedback in mind as well.
Synthetic transactions can help you set alerts for new issues, notice abnormal slowdowns, and find the causes of operation issues. Manual instrumentation will let you trace events and issues in the critical parts of your code. Customer feedback shouldn’t be your quality assurance guide, but you do need to watch user experience closely to estimate the quality of business services you are providing.
Choose the right people and teach them well
The team that will work with the APM tool should know the app like the back of their hand. So, pick these people wisely: the ones who know the ins and outs of your app and are the best team performers are likely to make the most out of the APM solution. It’s no less important to make every engineer working on your project understand why performance monitoring is crucial and support it.
If you want to learn more about the current state, best practices, and future opportunities of APM, check out this podcast. Scott Moore, an IT expert with nearly three decades of experience in the field, also speaks about the latest Gartner report on full performance monitoring in it.
Best tools for application performance monitoring
We hope that by now, you’ve realized AMP is a must rather than a whim. Next stop – selecting the right tools. The infographic below should help you navigate through the APM tools available.
Now, let’s get to the leaders of the APM market. Gartner recently updated its rating of the best application performance monitoring software. Let’s jump right in and take a closer look at the top five of them.
Dynatrace is a provider of AI APM solutions for the enterprise cloud. Its software intelligence platform monitors and optimizes the operation of apps, user experience, and app development for different industries, from businesses to government agencies. In 2020, Gartner named Dynatrace a Leader in APM for the tenth time in a row.
- New Relic APM
New Relic APM is a solution that provides grouped views, helping to reveal app performance trends quickly. This solution emphasizes security and lets you diagnose domain-level problems promptly. It can also boast of an enterprise security mode for clients with high security needs.
- Microsoft Azure App Insights
Microsoft Azure App Insights is an APM tool created specifically for development teams. It provides comprehensive monitoring, automatic performance anomaly detection, and issue assessment. There is also a Visual Studio plugin that shows data in the developer’s Integrated Developer Environment.
- Datadog APM
Datadog APM is a tool that provides modern monitoring and security. Its serverless monitoring software allows you to run mission-critical applications in serverless without compromising visibility. Datadog APM also has a service map to help you navigate the app seamlessly.
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM)
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) is a solution that lets you get started in minutes and monitor your application in the cloud, in a hybrid environment, and locally. This service allows you to quickly detect, diagnose, and resolve network performance problems or outages.
In a nutshell, a performance monitoring tool is a must-have element of a thriving digital business. Carefully chosen and well-integrated APM software can help optimize your app to ensure the best customer experience, which, in turn, helps you meet your business goals. Finally, it can also aid in eliminating and preventing many issues and vulnerabilities that would slip by otherwise, so don’t hesitate to start using application performance monitoring tools.
And don’t worry if you lack experience with them – just drop us a line and let us set up application monitoring for you. Relevant will be happy to help you catch any bugs or performance issues before they get to your users in production.
5 Ways IoT Big Data May Empower Your Business#Tech label
Today, the ability to analyze large amounts of data doesn’t just improve business opportunities. It may be your only chance of survival in a fiercely competitive environment.
Forrester predicts that by 2021, insight-driven businesses are going to take $1.8 trillion annually from their less-informed peers.
To remain competitive, businesses are implementing IoT Big Data solutions.
According to NewVantage Partners, 92% of companies worldwide confirmed an increased pace in investment in Big Data in 2019.
The combination of IoT and Big Data technologies gives companies the opportunity to grow as well as attract and retain larger numbers of customers.
In this article, we will describe how these two technologies work in conjunction. We’ll also explain the benefits your business will receive by implementing IoT and Big Data solutions.
How Do IoT and Big Data Work Together?
In simple terms, IoT analytics is the analysis of data gathered from connected devices. Big Data, in turn, helps process and make sense of billions of real-time data points.
Big Data systems collect chaotic data (as well as all more or less useful information) from connected devices and structure it into data sets that can help a business improve its work processes.
Companies benefit from these data sets to automate processes, empower staff, retain and attract more customers, and optimize operations.
Many industries have already benefited from IoT Big Data analysis. These fields include marketing, telematics, healthcare, smart cities, retail, and many others.
For instance, e-commerce businesses can use specialized software to analyze client purchases via an app or website, to create a detailed portfolio of their customer base and predict its behavior.
Let’s now discuss some ways businesses can benefit from implementing IoT Big Data.
How IoT Big Data Can Make Businesses More Successful
Here are some examples:
1. IoT Big Data solutions can boost staff productivity
Some companies have implemented smart sensors in offices and manufacturing areas to collect data related to performance ratings, employee engagement, and other activities.
Managers can use this data to more effectively manage staff and distribute employees’ time and effort more intelligently.
For example, a system developed by Humanyze works with devices made in the form of badges with sensors. These badges allow the company to collect employee data on more than 100 indicators to track work productivity in real-time.
Devices collect data on how employees communicate with customers, what style and tone of conversation they use, and whether employees listen to customers.
In particular, this system may help businesses improve the productivity of call center employees and teach them how to better communicate with customers.
2. IoT Big Data solutions can help businesses automate and optimize operations
Using complex IoT Big Data systems, companies can now automate and analyze routine workflows.
This can be especially useful in manufacturing, where each element of the product creation process can be automated and improved. The human factor can also be minimized.
In case of any malfunction, the system may notify employees of the delay, which will help them solve the problem more quickly.
General Motors, for example, uses sensors to monitor humidity when vehicles are ready for painting.
If the humidity level doesn’t correspond to the norm, the detailed work is sent to another workshop, which consequently shortens the time of the work process.
3. IoT Big Data solutions can help businesses improve security
Using a mix of IoT and Big Data, businesses can make their infrastructure safer in terms of cybersecurity. Read how to hire a cybersecurity developer.
Companies that integrate AI and machine learning can respond much more quickly to any security threat because the equipment reacts much faster than a human operator.
Also, Big Data security systems learn via examples of previous threats, so they become even more effective with added experience.
4. IoT Big Data solutions can help businesses enhance the customer experience
Be it a retail shop or a healthcare company, each B2C organization strives to create a better and more personalized customer experience.
Implementing IoT data analytics can help. It allows businesses to analyze consumer data to learn more about the behavior of customers and predict their future needs and actions.
For example, when customers enter a bookstore, the system can tell them which shelf the book they are interested in is located. The system can also send a personal discount or gift coupon to the client.
Among other applications, businesses can use IoT Big Data technology to run effective targeted advertising or promotional campaigns.
Healthcare organizations can use IoT Big Data solutions to optimize patient flows, as well as increase the productivity of doctors.
5. IoT Big Data solutions can help businesses improve equipment maintenance
Measuring heat, vibration, and other important parameters, IoT sensors, and Big Data analytics solutions may help companies in the manufacturing sector determine which equipment requires maintenance.
Equipment with built-in sensors can also notify the staff about wear and delivery schedules, and breakdowns.
These solutions not only simplify the work of the staff but also reduce risks and make it possible to predict future breakdowns and issues.
Potentially, technology can save companies thousands of dollars by reducing maintenance costs.
If you are thinking about implementing IoT Big Data products, we recommend that you find a professional consultant to help you quickly implement the most suitable solution with the highest possible ROI.
Today, a combination of IoT and Big Data technologies helps businesses attract more customers, reduce costs, and win the competition.
On the other hand, businesses that neglect to implement these technologies risk a huge loss of customers and profits.
IoT Big Data solutions can help any company become more successful by:
- Making employees more productive;
- Optimizing and automating work processes;
- Enhancing security;
- Improving the customer/patient experience;
- Boosting equipment maintenance.
If you want to know more about IoT and Big Data solutions, or if you’re considering implementing this technology, feel free to contact us.
Dependency Check Guide to Help You Find Vulnerabilities in Open-source Software Components#Tech label
Frameworks, libraries, and other software components massively run with full privileges. Therefore, an exploited cybersecurity vulnerability in such a module can result in a security breach, loss of data, or even control over your servers. Using software components with known vulnerabilities can compromise your cybersecurity defenses and lead to various attack scenarios.
But can there be so many vulnerabilities? Some estimates show that up to 44% of apps use open-source components with known vulnerabilities! In addition, up to 50% of Global 500 companies have vulnerable open-source components in their apps. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when you hear about the next brand, big or small, falling victim to a cybersecurity breach.
What’s even scarier, the open-source ecosystem is much more fragile than we prefer to think — and definitely not more secure than proprietary software. You might have heard how one developer nearly destroyed the Internet by deleting 11 lines of code… Rude awakenings like that are a nightmare of any business that uses third-party software modules. How to make sure the next crash doesn’t happen to your company? Regularly perform in-depth dependency checks to find and remove vulnerabilities in open-source components you use.
Relevant Software is a software development company that has excellent cybersecurity expertise. We mostly build SaaS web applications, including fintech solutions, and securing them is our everyday job. The dependency check guide below is based on our experience, so keep on reading to discover the best methods of finding and removing vulnerabilities in open-source software components.
Method 1: Use a tool
Due to a massive demand for examining cybersecurity dependencies, you can use multiple products and open-source tools to check your app code for vulnerabilities. We list and briefly describe 10 of them below, in no particular order.
The list of known vulnerabilities used by OSSIndex is currently retrieved from the NIST NVD (National Vulnerability Database from the National Institute of Standards and Technology) to cover the widest known range of potential issues. However, to update the known vulnerability base in real-time, OSSIndex developers plan to add an automated import for other databases, mailing lists, and bug-tracking tools soon.
Gemnasium is a proprietary SaaS product with several free starting plans and an internal database of vulnerabilities, updated daily from multiple sources. Nevertheless, forming advisories requires a manual check, and these are not published automatically. One of the major benefits of Gemnasium is its ability to test specifically selected combinations of dependency sets, instead of checking all of them, saving a ton of time and effort. Slack integration ensures your developers get immediate updates once an advisory is detected.
Gemnasium is currently a cloud-based product supporting Ruby, Python, PHP, NPM, and Bower. However, the plans for new features include building an enterprise-grade on-prem solution supporting Java and other languages.
Sonatype Nexus is an enterprise-grade suite of tools for repository/binary management, app building, dependency checking, and reporting. It was developed by the team behind Apache Maven and its Central Repository. It’s a feature-rich software suite covering a vast variety of platforms, from Java and PHP to .NET, Go, Ruby, Python, and Swift.
Nexus helps issue and enforce policies that prevent suspicious open-source components from entering your software delivery supply chain. It also provides integration with CI/CD tools, statistics visualization to identify MTTR and success metrics, expert guidance on compliant alternative versions, etc. Automated generation of Software Bill of Materials for every build, continuous monitoring for new vulnerabilities — this is just the tip of the iceberg that is Nexus.
The main benefit of Snyk is that it helps scale successful vulnerability handling scenarios across all teams in an organization of any size. This way, it enables better collaboration and tighter GitHub integrations. Snyk’s development roadmap promises the release of runtime management tools for tight control and in-depth visibility of open-source JS modules in production environments.
Bundler-audit focuses on checking dependencies and vulnerabilities in Ruby projects. It’s an open-source command-line tool retrieving updates from RubySec (specialized Ruby vulnerability database) and NIST NVD.
Hakiri is a proprietary SaaS instrument for Ruby/RoR GitHub project dependency checking with static code analysis. Open-source projects are eligible for free Hakiri plans; private projects can benefit from paid versions that check for vulnerability updates from Ruby Advisory Database and NIST NVD. Hakiri is going to add support for Node.JS and PHP along with integrations with Slack, Pivotal Tracker, and Jira.
Source Clear is another proprietary SaaS tool with a command-line interface, which provides many plugins for IDE management, handling deployment tools for various platforms and frameworks, and even more useful features. One of the most crucial between them is the “vulnerability methods identification” — a check whether the vulnerable dependency discovered is currently used in your app. It helps diminish the number of false positives, allowing your Dev teams to concentrate on dependencies that matter. Source Clear leverages NIST NVD and several other databases and mailing lists to update its dependency database.
This is the main dependency checker for Node.JS and NPM dependencies. The information is retrieved from NIST NVD and an internal database updated from NPM module scans. The motto of this platform is making dependency security an integral part of the SDLC. This way, NSP aims to provide a suite of tools for enabling security dependency checking, alerting, and remediation to empower your development teams and allow seamless software delivery.
Method 2: Manual checks
Manual checking requires more effort, but it’s a great exercise for your developers. It gives them a deep understanding of transitive dependencies within open-source components they use, as well as an acquaintance with the vulnerability databases. This process can be boiled down to three steps.
- Collecting transitive dependencies. Most popular build managers have commands for collecting dependencies within your projects.
- Search for known vulnerabilities for these dependencies. There are multiple databases of known vulnerabilities. They’re used by the tools we mentioned above, but your developers should know how to utilize Mitre’s Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, Ruby Advisory DB, OSS Index, and other public sources.
- Remediate these vulnerabilities by patching the code, upgrading to the latest version of this library or framework. Developers rarely report vulnerabilities in their code, which means public exposure and extra effort to fix the issues. Therefore, in many cases, such fixes go under the radar, and you must actively monitor them to stay updated. This can be done using the commit watcher tool, which can audit code commits and search for specific comments and descriptions, based on user-defined rules and search queries.
As you can see, there are paid and open-source tools for checking your code dependencies for vulnerabilities — or your development teams can do this manually. While the latter variant is more time- and resource-intensive, it’s a great way of educating your developers, so they make fewer mistakes when using third-party code components, check for vulnerabilities, and remediate them at once. Should you prefer your developers to concentrate instead on the software delivery process, please use any of the 10 dependency checking tools listed above.
Alternatively, you can delegate this task to a trustworthy technology partner like Relevant Software, which will perform the code audit and help your developers remove the potential security breaches. Should you have any questions or need any assistance with this task — we’re always ready to help!
10 Common Web Application Security Vulnerabilities and How to Prevent Them#Tech label
In all the excitement of building and deploying your web applications, is there something you forgot?
Data breaches cost companies $3.92 million in 2019, and many of these incidents could have gotten prevented with the right mindset and a comprehensive audit to ensure web application security vulnerabilities get addressed.
OWASP Top 10
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is an open community of engineers and security IT professionals whose goal is to make the web safer for users and other entities.
The OWASP “Top 10” is a set of standards for common vulnerabilities and how to prevent them from becoming breaches for your company and users. Ultimately the OWASP Top 10 is the industry standard and needs to be prioritized when deploying any web or mobile app.
The OWASP Top 10 for web applications includes:
- Broken Authentication
- Sensitive Data Exposure
- Broken Access Control
- Security Misconfiguration
- Cross-Site Scripting
- Insecure Direct Object References
- Cross-Site Request Forgery
- Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
- Insufficient Logging & Monitoring
Most of these vulnerabilities revolve around authentication, validation, and user input flaws. Our post will go a little deeper into each vulnerability to give enough information to make the best choices and secure your web application.
Injection flaws are when an attacker uses unfiltered and often malicious data to attack databases or directories connected to your web apps. Two common injection attacks often get used. First, SQL injection gets used to attack your databases. Second, LDAP injection gets used to attack directories.
Injection attacks use input fields that interact with directories and databases to execute against vulnerabilities. These include usernames, passwords, and other areas that interact with the target. These fields are often left vulnerable due to the lack of an input filter when the database or directory’s development.
How to prevent injection flaws:
There are ways we can help to prevent injection attacks. Adding filters to your inputs is the best defense. With SQL databases, we can first use prepared statements that can help prevent attackers from manipulating queries. Second, with LDAP injections, we can use protocols like escape variables to prevent characters used with injection attacks from being passed to manipulate the directory.
Authentication helps apps identify and validate users. Therefore broken authentication can allow attackers to access and have the same permissions as the targeted user, creating severe web app vulnerabilities. Issues with authentication can give an attacker unfettered access to your data and wreak havoc on your web application.
Authentication vulnerabilities can include improperly hashed and salted passwords, leaks involving user account data, improperly set timeouts, brute force attacks, or typical password stuffing like password1 or admin1234.
How to prevent broken authentication vulnerabilities:
Protecting your web application from authentication vulnerabilities can be a simple fix. Using multi-factor authentication can help verify the correct user. Creating strong passwords with periodic password updates can keep from common password use. Finally, properly configuring timeouts and password security within your database will prevent authentication issues.
Sensitive Data Exposure
Sensitive data gets transported or stored without any encryption or other protection, leaving information vulnerable to various attacks.
There are two ways to attack unprotected data. First, while data is transported from the user to the client, attacks as a man-in-the-middle attack can be used to steal data from packets. Second, stored data, while more complicated, can be exposed through encryption keys get stored with data or weak salt/hash or passwords and credentials.
How to prevent sensitive data exposure:
Preventing the exposure of your sensitive data is vital to the security of your app. Due to data vulnerabilities in motion, HTTPS, and perfect forward secrecy (PFS), ciphers need to get implemented for incoming data to your site. Disabling data caching that may store sensitive information is another way to help protect data.
In addition to transported data, stored data is at risk for attacks and exposure as well. Encrypting data stored in your databases while keeping encryption keys stored separately will reduce exposure. Eliminating out-dated data or data that isn’t needed will minimize exposure. If there is no data, there is no risk.
Missing Function Level Access Control
When server-side authorization is misconfigured, broken, or missing, vulnerabilities will occur that can leave your back-end open to attacks.
These attacks often happen with front-end UIs configured with components to give admins access to data or other vital app elements. In this case, most users can’t see the admin function, but those looking to find vulnerabilities will be able to uncover and exploit this flaw with malicious requests.
How to prevent missing function level access control vulnerabilities:
Fixing this flaw is simple. All server-side authentication needs to be active and configured to prevent unwanted access.
Often web applications are misconfigured, leaving an array of vulnerabilities for attackers to capitalize. Security misconfigured vulnerabilities can include unpatched flaws, unused pages, unprotected files or directories, outdated software, and running software in debug mode.
All aspects of your web applications can be affected by security misconfigurations. When a misconfiguration is found, it is vital to run a security audit to check for attacks or breaches.
How to prevent security misconfigurations:
Preventing security configuration vulnerabilities is simple. For instance, using a deployment protocol to continuously develop and deploy updates inside a secure environment or segmented application architecture will help prevent security vulnerabilities. Automatic your deployment will also keep your applications up to date and prevent attacks.
Cross-Site Scripting XSS
XSS vulnerabilities are common where input is unsanitized. Additionally, XSS can allow attackers to steal cookies from users’ browsers and access browsing history and sensitive information.
How to prevent XSS:
Ultimately XSS vulnerabilities can be fixed by sanitizing input. Sanitizing input will help stop user input from manipulating vulnerabilities and injecting them into websites. Also, validating and escaping user input will help prevent malicious injection.
Insecure Direct Object References
When database keys or files get exposed to the user, insecure direct object reference vulnerabilities exist. Because of the exposed internal objects, attackers can use enumeration attacks to access those objects and gain data or access to sensitive databases. Often authentication is either non-existent or broken.
Database objects are often vulnerable through URL parameters exposing serialized data keys an attacker can manipulate to access information. Also, static files can be manipulated and changed by an attacker to access sensitive information or other user’s data.
How to prevent insecure direct object references:
Preventing access to sensitive files and databases can be done with server-side input validation. Testing input server-side can help prevent malicious user’s from manipulating URL parameters and file names. Also, access control measures can help determine if the user has permission and can access or change files and databases.
Cross-Site Request Forgery
Cross-site request forgeries (CSRF) use social engineering to trick authenticated users into clicking a link, as an example and take control of their sessions. Due to having authenticated sessions, the attacker can perform changes to the state of an app vs. data theft.
Applications without the proper dual authentication or cross-site tokens can be vulnerable to CSRF attacks. Those will little knowledge of social engineering are also at higher risk of their authenticated sessions hijacked.
How to prevent CSRF: There are several preventative measures to help stop CSRF attacks. Using secret tokens or cookies can help with authenticating real requests vs. malicious ones. Also, utilizing POST requests only and eliminating GET requests can help keep the URL information from getting compromised.
Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
Due diligence needs to get done when considering using a third-party code or component in your web application. Many security issues can come with using unfettered code from sources you aren’t familiar with.
Affected objects and how to find them:
To help find what components may be vulnerable, the National Vulnerability Database has a comprehensive list of known third-party vulnerabilities to help make the best choice.
Every aspect of your app can be affected by vulnerabilities in third-party code. For example, backdoors can get added to financial services code allowing attackers access to sensitive data.
How to prevent using components with vulnerabilities:
The best way to prevent using vulnerable code is to know where and who it’s coming from.
Unvalidated Redirects & Forwards
Unvalidated redirects and forwards is another input manipulation vulnerability again using parameters like GET requests to execute the attacks.
An example of the vulnerability is an attacker manipulating a URL and redirecting users to a malicious site where information can get stolen using social engineering and links with malicious code or links.
How to prevent unvalidated redirects and forwards:
By eliminating redirects, you can eliminate the issue of redirect attacks. If necessary, keep redirects and forwards static, not allowing users to input URLs.
Let us secure your web application
A security breach with your web app can cost you a lot in damages and tarnish your company’s reputation. App and software development and frameworks are becoming more and more secure; however, attackers find better ways to attack these vulnerabilities. Deployment isn’t the end of the road, and we can help minimize vulnerabilities and keep your apps secure.
We are Relevant, a software development company that has expert cybersecurity expertise. We specialize in SaaS web applications, including fintech solutions, and securing them is our everyday job. If you are ready to take your security to the next level, contact us today to learn more.
Recognise App Security Vulnerabilities Beforehand With Application Threat Modeling#Tech label
Do you want to eliminate every vulnerability and application threat before it cracks open your software security?
Research shows that it’s more intelligent to fix software problems early in the development stage than waiting long into deployment to perform the traditional penetrate and patch model, especially when it involves software security.
According to Statista, over 9 billion data points were revealed during a summer 2018 security breach of Apollo’s sales intelligence company. Imagine the multiplier effect this can cause for other partnering companies. Today, the greatest danger we face is cyber breaches. A host of confidential information could be stolen right from under your nose with you capable of doing absolutely nothing about it. It’s a situation we all dread.
Threat modeling helps to identify and prioritize possible vulnerabilities and threats before the software is built. Threat modeling could apply to a wide range of networks, systems, the internet, applications, and software. Trapping these issues from the bud with an effective application threat modeling approach will sharpen the safety of software you launch.
Why should you do the threat modeling of your application?
The goal of threat modeling is not only to identify vulnerabilities for mitigation but to improve the overall presence of the application security.
This approach can help the software development process in the following way:
- Design secure software
- Develop security test scenarios to examine security requirements
- Highlight and build the required control protocol
- Balance risk, control, and usability
- Identify necessary control development and unnecessary zone base on potential risk
- Record all threats and mitigation approaches
- Prevent compromise of business goals/requirements in the face of threats or malicious actors
- Ensure compliance
- Guide efficient investment of resources; prioritize security and other development responsibility.
- Link security and DevOps by creating a DevSecOps culture.
What is application threat modeling?
Threat modeling, also called Architectural Risk Analysis is a procedure for optimizing Software security by IT professionals by identifying potential security threats and vulnerabilities, quantifying the seriousness of each while prioritizing techniques to mitigate attacks and protect software.
Let us show you how it is done with this image.
Threat modeling methodologies
Here is the thing, not all threat modeling methodologies work the same way if you might be thinking of jumping onto the next one you see advertised on google. However, there are various threat modeling methodologies used for enhancing IT cybersecurity practices with unique results.
Here is a highlight of the strong methodologies applied today:
OCTAVE which stands for the Operation of critical threats, assets, and vulnerability framework. This methodology serves to identify and manage information security risks. OCTAVE follows a detailed approach that evaluates the organization to identify essential information assets, threat valleys, and vulnerability that may expose the organization to potential risks. By bringing together the information assets, threats, and vulnerabilities, the organization can begin to understand what information is at stake. This approach allows organizations to direct, prioritize, and manage security practices to reduce the overall risk exposure of their information assets.
STRIDE points to 6 important security risk categories which are; Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information Disclosure, Denial of Service, and Elevation of Privileges. STRIDE is one of the most mature threat modeling methods in cybersecurity. Sub-classifications
- Spoofing – is the unauthorized use of identity markers, such as passwords and usernames, to gain unauthorized access to private information. Other examples of spoofing identity are forging email addresses or the modification of header information in a request to gain unauthorized access to a software system or even pretend to be someone other than yourself.
- Tampering – Tampering involves a usurper making modifications to data. Examples of tampering with data include modifying data in a database, changing data as it travels over a network, and modifying data in files or a network.
- Repudiation – Repudiation is the explicit denial of performing actions where proof cannot be ascertained.
- Information Disclosure – Information disclosure threats involve cybercriminals gaining unauthorized access to confidential information. For example, attackers could obtain sensitive system information (server OS version, application framework version, etc.) to further craft a highly specialized attack vector on various platforms.
- Denial of service (DOS) – A denial of service threat involves denying legitimate users’ access to systems or components. They could then be overloaded to a point such that they cannot fulfill legitimate requests.
- Elevation of privilege – An elevation of privilege threat involves a user or a component being able to access data or programs for which they are not authorized.
PASTA stands for the Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) which is a risk-centric threat-modeling framework developed in 2012. It’s a seven-step risk-centric methodology that aligns business objectives with technical requirements to provide organizations asset-centric mitigation strategy.
This method elevates the threat-modeling process to a strategic level by involving key decision-makers, while adopting security inputs from other key departments like governance, architecture, operations and development.
PASTA leverages simulation to provide experts with enough insights to know what an attacker’s perspective is on applications and infrastructure better, and then develop threat management, enumeration, and scoring processes.
The Trike was created as a security audit framework that uses threat modeling as a technique. The first step to applying Trike is defining a system, then understanding and enumerating system actors, actions, rules, and assets when building the required model.
It looks at threat modeling from a risk-management, and defensive perspective—Trike uses a unique security auditing process from start to finish, including risk management. Trike allows Organization stakeholders to create accepted levels of risk for each asset class, thereby enabling security teams to develop threat/requirement models to audit the entire process. Security experts then produce a threat model after analyzing the requirements model.
The Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat modeling (VAST) methodology was conceived after reviewing the shortcomings and implementation challenges inherent in the other threat modeling methodologies. The founding principle is that to be effective, threat modeling must scale across the infrastructure and entire DevOps portfolio, integrate seamlessly into an Agile environment, and provide actionable, accurate, and consistent outputs for developers, security teams, and senior executives alike.
We can classify Automation, Collaboration, and Integration as the three pillars of scalable threat modeling linked to VAST. VAST focuses on developing two main threat models; operational threat models and application threat models. As a result of an advisory point of view, Operational threat models are created to focus more on the DFDs. Meanwhile, Application threat models use a process-flow diagram, representing the architectural point of view. The VAST methodology is ideal for enterprise businesses seeking actionable threat models unique to the needs of various stakeholders.
Application threat modeling process
Each threat modeling methodology consists of their particular unique steps and techniques that make each different. But basically the goal of a threat model is to answer four questions:
- What are we working on?
- What can go wrong?
- What actions are we taking?
- Did we do a good job?
The threat modeling process should, in turn, involve four broad steps, each of which will produce an answer to one of those questions.
- Decompose the application or infrastructure
- Determine the threats
- Determine countermeasures and mitigations
- Rank the threats
We follow these steps while building applications for our clients to ensure their software security.
Threat modeling is a necessary part of secure software development and the first step to implementing DevSecOps culture. It helps to identify vulnerabilities early on before hackers do.
Our cybersecurity experts will help you not only make the right choice of threat modeling model but also implement it, ensuring the overall security of your application. Contact us now to design a secure application architecture and eliminate vulnerabilities.
Top 8 best Node.js frameworks for your perfect project 2021#Tech label
In order to make web and mobile application development even more streamlined, a variety of popular Node.js frameworks have been created. Let’s have a closer look at some those most commonly used in the web space.
Image credit: Node.js
Express.js is a fast and lightweight framework for Node.js that is applied for creating applications of various size and complexity with extensions that provide additional value-adding features. It is very often associated with the MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node.js) stack used to build web applications. By supporting lots of HTTP utility methods, Express.js is also a distinguished environment for building REST APIs. Besides, it enables a painless transition for legacy websites to use Node.js as their middle layer and convert them into fast operating Express.js website without considerable changes in source code. Among others the framework offers:
- Robust URL-based routing mechanism using the HTTP methods
- Support of various plugins and extensions enhancing its default functionality
- Easy database integration
- Smooth learning curve for those already familiar with Node.js
Express.js, as part of the MEAN.io framework stack, is also the optimal choice for building enterprise-size applications using big data as well as applications using media streaming or real-time chatting to ensure speedy performance and critical scalability.
Koa.js. is a server-side framework for building web applications which uses the so-called generators allowing to avoid callbacks and to handle errors much more efficiently. Being a relatively new application framework it is now rapidly developing. Below are some more features of Koa framework that the developers’ community appreciates:
- Lightweight structure
- High customization possibilities
- Modular approach
Hapi.js framework was first created and used for the development of the Walmart retail chain application. The idea behind it is building a framework capable of supporting a large team working on multiple tasks simultaneously. That is considered a main advantage of Hapi.js, and the developers’ community agrees on it is an excellent solution for a large, distributed team working on a comprehensive application. Today Hapi.js is among the tools used to develop the apps and websites of Yahoo web services provider and even the United Kingdom Government. Other advantages of Hapi.js include:
- Profound support of plugins which helps the collaboration of different team members working on various components without affecting general performance
- Support of reusable components
LoopBack is an extensible, full-featured open source Node.js backend framework with an aim to connect applications to data using APIs. It is coming with a lot of built-in models and features make the development process faster and more comfortable. Its extensive out-of-the-box structure allows adding custom code in an easy and consistent manner. Among other impressive advantages there are:
- It’s a redesigned framework also enabling software engineers to share the code and create services on a client’s side
- Intuitive CLI wizard
- Built-in API documentation and SDK generation tool
Sails.js is a real-time MVC framework based on Express and Socket.io. The Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern can be used to build applications of various sizes and data-driven APIs handling large amounts of data, like real-time chats, multiplayer games, dashboards, and other apps solutions heavily dependant on the real-time performance.
With Sails.js, you will get a complete application ready for production within a very short time. The key features of Sails.js that can influence the choice of the framework include:
- Reach front-end best frameworks compatibility and consequently flexibility in choosing the right tools for web application development. With Sails.js, you can enable the front-end development with Angular, Backbone, iOS/ObjC, Windows Phone, etc.
- Automatic generation of RESTful JSON models supporting both WebSockets and HTTP
- Support of the common MVC architecture with other frameworks making the transition easier.
- Compatibility with multiple databases, such as MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and Redis.
Kraken.js is a secure and scalable layer that extends Express.js by providing structure and control especially suited for larger projects. Created by the PayPal development team for needs, it was intended to organize the framework. If you need extra modifications or organization options for your Express.js application and this one is a perfect choice enabling transparent and manageable structure with separating models, templates and route controllers. The software development engineers point out that Kraken.js offers:
- Multiple language support, a clear structure coupled with out-of-the-box functionality
- Critical security due to pre-configured Lusca module
- Code generator increasing the development speed and reducing human error.
Besides, this extension was a part of the development toolset of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a corporate division of Bank of America.
- The same code supported across different devices for exclusive efficiency for mobile app development ensuring easy updates
- A number of ready-made modules in the default package accelerating the development
- Large community offering dozens of reusable packages and modules
Meteor’s ability to use running o the same code resolves the device compatibility issues easily so it’s a worthy choice for applications intended to ben various devices. As for the use cases, IKEA, a Swedish furniture manufacturer and Mazda Corporation, an automobile producer have chosen Meteor as the tool for developing their applications.
- Compatibility with most platforms including Mac, Linux and Windows making it cost and effort-efficient as the development team does not need to code across operating systems and browsers.
- Using Chromium engine enables all the crucial features of Chrome and the ability to use developer tools, storage access, etc.
- Due to a single-shared simplified library, it can be used without utilizing much of the computational power.
- Large community and a variety ready-to-use packages allowing to focus on the core development process
How to choose the best popular Node.js framework for your needs
If you have opted for Node.js as the runtime environment for your web or mobile application you have a rich choice with a huge number of popular frameworks for Node.js development depending with your project volume and requirements starting from performance, scalability, and quality of documentation and up to built-in features, modules and compatibility with various development tools.
All in all, the best frameworks designed to work with Node.js are there to enable easy and quality development when building web and mobile apps with impeccable and smooth performance.
Authors: Taras Stetsiuk and Igor Rybas, Software Engineers at Relevant Software
How to Protect Your Cloud: Guide to Cloud Security Assessment and Solutions#Tech label
It’s no secret that cloud offers more accessibility and control over data than on-premise solutions. But there’s a catch. You must incorporate reliable cloud security solutions to reap this technology’s benefits.
Let’s look at why you need to secure your environment first thing after migrating to the cloud. We will also talk about how cloud security assessment mitigates the risks of unauthorized access. In addition to that, we’re going to look at some security solutions you can implement to improve your cloud security right now.
Risks of an Unsecured Cloud
More businesses are moving their workloads from on-premise into the cloud. Unfortunately, hackers aren’t falling behind. Small and medium-sized companies remain the major targets for malware and ransomware attacks. In most cases, these breaches happen due to lackluster cyber-protection and irregular cloud security assessments.
So, what dangers await organizations that don’t implement proper cloud security measures?
- Regulatory compliance violations. SaaS public cloud services don’t absolve users from the need to maintain data security. It poses serious risks for companies that own tons of personally identifiable information. Companies must analyze the service agreement to understand roles and access permissions.
- Phishing. Over 2/3 of small and medium-sized organizations experience data breaches and cyberattacks. Phishing makes up a significant chunk of breaches and stolen cloud credentials, which leads to data leakage.
- Data exfiltration. Unsecured cloud systems raise the risk of unauthorized file transfers and data removal. Surveys tell that hackers are responsible for over 45% of data breaches, which they usually carry out via malware attacks and DNS tunneling.
- Disrupted business continuity. Organizations that don’t have a cloud security assessment framework risk compromising uptime. An average company experienced about 16 days of unplanned downtime due to hacker attacks in Q4 of 2019 alone. But how much is it in figures?
- Money loss. A mere hour of downtime costs up to $8,000 for a small company in the US. As for larger businesses, sixty minutes can be worth anywhere from $70,000 to $700,000.
- Bankruptcy. Major data loss incidents can disrupt the business for many days or weeks. Insufficiently secured cloud infrastructure can result in the loss of sensitive corporate information. The statistics are not encouraging as well. About 60% of companies that experienced a critical data breach go out of business six months after the incident.
Most companies with cloud in their workflow understand these risks. But why are so many of them not putting enough effort into securing their data? Well, implementing proper security measures isn’t easy.
Cloud Security Challenges
Most cloud infrastructures are quite complex and have built-in security solutions in place. But let’s not forget that even the most protected systems are not immune to user errors. When hackers fail, harmful working practices can do the work and expose critical data. As a result, the company will suffer from unauthorized access.
What are the most frequent challenges administrators face during cloud management?
Сloud storage misconfiguration
Unsecured cloud storage buckets are regular sources for stolen data. For instance, Amazon S3 service caused over 36 thousand records about US’s dispensary customers to leak in 2020. Hackers have a broad pool of utilities to exploit misconfigured cloud environments. However, proper access management enhances cloud security and helps prevent data leakage.
Improper access management
Most companies are still plagued with poor management issues. The most widespread problems include a lot of distributed workforce and administrator accounts. In addition to that, many organizations forget to revoke access permissions from former employees. As a result, companies get a whole lot of inactive user accounts with too many privileges. All of them create potential cloud security vulnerabilities.
Insecure APIs are frequently exploited to target sensitive information. Nevertheless, about 70% of enterprises open their APIs to the public. Why? Because it helps business partners and third-party developers to embed various cloud solutions.
Unfortunately, companies often neglect to create sufficient authentication controls in APIs. Consequently, hackers can access back-end and enterprise data via the open Internet channels.
Private clouds offer limited capabilities for visibility and control. Therefore, you must verify how much security control you have over the cloud environment before adding it to the company’s workflow. Otherwise, it will affect your ability to analyze information about access patterns.
Сloud environments have long become a target for DDoS attacks. If you don’t want your servers to get disrupted by hackers, a regular cloud security assessment should be mandatory. See how to hire a site reliability engineer.
Employees can pose even more of a danger to cloud security than outside attackers. Over 68% of CTOs and CIOs consider their organizations to be much more vulnerable to insider threats than to hackers. Therefore, it’s crucial to assess cloud security solutions to account for insiders.
You’re probably wondering how to get around these challenges. The best way to expose your system’s vulnerabilities and fix them before it’s too late is by performing an in-depth audit. How do you do it? Here’s our checklist.
Cloud Security Assessment Checklist
Implementing a secure cloud infrastructure requires comprehensive analysis. Organizations need to address all risk management measures to determine how protected they are.
Cloud security assessment is the optimal way to perform an in-depth security evaluation. Here’s what should be reviewed to improve data protection in your organization.
Access and identity management is the first crucial step in cloud security risk assessment. At this stage, you need to check for the following:
- Who has access to your cloud system?
- What devices can access the system?
- Do you allow guests to access the cloud account?
- What permissions do guest accounts have?
- Is multi-factor authentication enabled (and does it have at least two steps)?
It’s crucial to maintain credentials for identity and access in a secured directory. To achieve this, you need to answer these questions:
- Do you have an LDAP-compliant directory to keep the identities?
- How often do you update security protocols for this directory in a way that leverages the latest technologies and practices?
- Are security specialists who manage this directory adequately vetted?
Data loss prevention and backup policies
Data loss can put your business at severe risks, so you need to make sure key information is easily recoverable. You can do this by addressing these points:
- Do you have a comprehensive recovery plan?
- Does your provider have a default data backup functionality?
- Does your cloud environment support third-party data backup software?
- What are the existing plans and procedures for data recovery (physical storage locations, local area networks, cloud backup, and other solutions)?
- Do you perform regular check-ups of these physical storages and supplementary cloud infrastructures?
Make sure your cloud infrastructure is in the hands of competent specialists. Pay attention to the following:
- Is the security team properly trained?
- Does a senior cloud security specialist at your company have relevant experience?
- Did the security team incorporate a proper cloud data security strategy?
- Did your organization adapt security governance into the cloud?
- Is everyone in the team aware of their responsibilities concerning cloud security?
- Do you have in-company guidance on how to remain secure within the cloud infrastructure?
Good encryption will leave the leaked information useless for hackers. The type and number of encryption services required vary based on the organization’s size and type. We recommend considering the following:
- Have you determined what files, databases, and networks require encryption?
- Is all key data on your servers encrypted?
- How many encryption services do you have? Do you use a different service for databases, files, certificates, and public keys?
The security systems must always be up-to-date to maintain a secure cloud environment. Here’s what you need to consider:
- How often do you install security updates and patches?
- Does the IT team test security updates before deploying them?
- Can you do a rollback change to the security systems in case of an emergency?
- Does the security team scan the system for vulnerabilities regularly?
The worst thing about security breaches is that you can’t identify all of them. 49% of US-based companies have suffered from a data breach in 2020. However, some organizations learn about unsanctioned access weeks or even months after it had occurred.
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Do you want to know about every loophole in your cloud system? Then, it’s important to implement a proper logging system from the get-go. Here are the things to check:
- Can your cloud system log alterations to policy assignments, security policies, and admin groups?
- Can you monitor applications that work with sensitive data?
- Does the security team manually check the system for potential security breaches?
- How long has the monitoring system been in place?
Answering these questions can help you look at your сloud security more objectively and critically. As a result, you will know what measures and tools to implement to protect your data more effectively.
Cloud Security Solutions
How can you improve your company’s cloud security capabilities? Here are the solutions you can implement right now to make your business safer.
Create a data governance network
Your organization must have a clear framework that defines who controls data assets and how this data can be used. This framework will provide you with a streamlined approach to managing and securing information.
After you create a proper data governance policy, you will have to maintain it. Here are some useful tools that can help you automate data operations and management:
- Talend. A great solution for cloud security and API integration with plenty of data management capabilities.
- IBM Data Governance. A flexible tool that provides data cataloging, governance strategy management, and information protection.
- Collibra. An advanced service for automating data operations and cross-functional team control for larger enterprises.
Double-check cloud security configurations
This step is often overlooked, especially when companies move large volumes of data into the cloud at once. Double-checking can be done either manually during the configuration of the cloud server or by using cloud security assessment tools. These applications can automate and streamline the check-up to expose security vulnerabilities.
Some of the cloud security configuration tools you can use are:
- ExoPrise. A security management and troubleshooting tool that works with many SaaS applications (Dropbox, Box, and Office 365, to name a few).
- Sumo Logic. A cloud infrastructure monitoring service that uses advanced analytics software to find and fix security issues before they negatively impact your business.
- Cloud Custodian. A tool for verifying cloud security configurations, governance management and cost optimization.
Implement data loss prevention software
Data loss prevention policy is crucial for all enterprises. Correct DPL software will tighten cloud data security and ensure valuable information won’t be stolen.
But you shouldn’t confuse DLP with other cloud security solutions. DLP goes a step further from disaster recovery and endpoint security software. It uses AI to monitor abnormal behavior and attempts of unapproved access. As a result, this software can prevent data loss incidents altogether.
Here are the most popular DLP tools to enhance your company’s cloud security:
- McAfee Total Protection for DLP. A scalable program that simplifies system monitoring and management with a centralized dashboard.
- Check Point Data Loss Prevention. A straightforward system that helps prevent data leaks and unwarranted access.
- SolarWinds Data Loss Prevention. An advanced DLP software that allows automating activity and access policies and makes it easy to examine potentially harmful events.
- Teramind DLP. A tool that uses OCR and programming languages to scan and prioritize documents to help identify the best DLP strategy. It also allows companies to perform basic cloud security assessment and audit.
- Digital Guardian Endpoint DLP. A flexible data and intellectual property loss prevention platform. It covers up to 250,000 active users and can immediately block unauthorized user actions.
Implement data backup solutions
Even the most secured cloud infrastructures aren’t entirely immune to cyber-attacks. Therefore, you must prioritize critical data and back it up routinely. We recommend you to start with files that affect business functionality. This can save you from disastrous consequences that await companies without reliable data backup.
Some of the most popular cloud backup providers in the US are:
- Acronis. A reliable data protection and backup provider for medium-sized companies and larger enterprises that boasts myriads of innovative security features.
- IDrive. An excellent solution for SMBs that protects data on computers, servers, and mobile devices.
- CrashPlan. A cloud backup service that offers ransomware recovery solutions and continuous protection of sensitive information without file size restrictions.
Enable multi-factor authentication and anti-phishing measures
You can boost cloud security by implementing additional authentication. Even two-factor authentication might be enough to repel most data breaches. This can be done by enabling such measures as:
- Fingerprint authentication (for mobile apps)
- Email address or SMS code confirmation
- Security questions
The next step is to use a custom email provider with anti-phishing capabilities. Remember: no anti-phishing tools can guarantee 100% safety, however, they can significantly reduce the risks of unauthorized access.
Perform an in-depth cloud security assessment
The best way to improve your system’s safety is to perform an exhaustive cloud security audit. Conducting a complete evaluation of the cloud system is undoubtedly a time-consuming process. However, it allows organizations to get a realistic picture of security capabilities. It also helps them fix loopholes and enhance data protection.
Let us secure your cloud
Securing the cloud is an increasingly challenging task for any company. The good news is that you can outsource it.
Relevant Software offers a variety of managed IT services and provides cybersecurity experts. Since 2013, we’ve worked with over 200 organizations from all over the world, offering them a variety of managed IT services and innovative cybersecurity solutions.
Our vetted team of security specialists can perform a comprehensive cloud security assessment to help you:
- Implement the ultimate security practices and proper access management solutions
- Mitigate risks of data breaches and credential-stealing
- Protect crucial information, networks, and databases
- Decide on the most fitting cloud security strategy for your company
Do you want to migrate to the cloud or secure your existing infrastructure? Feel free to contact Relevant to get on a call with our cloud security experts.
C-Level Mobile Application Security Testing Guide#Tech label
In September 2019, a notorious hacker exposed over 173 million user accounts of the popular mobile game Words with Friends. In 2018, Under Armour confirmed that hackers got to the My Fitness Pal app, exposing 150 million users. These giants have bounced back from the blows, though it cost them dearly. But can your company afford to lose hard-earned dollars and reputation?
App security can’t be an afterthought, and you need to be sure the application you’re delivering to users is secure. How? By designing it with security in mind and thoroughly testing the app, of course.
Why you should care about securing your application
Users blindly trust mobile applications with their most sensitive info. They either believe companies have taken all the necessary security measures before introducing their product to the market or are simply unaware of the threats. Yet, according to Accenture, in 2019, security breaches have increased by 11% compared to the previous year and by 67% since 2014.
There probably is more than one reason for this growth. But the fact is, many companies forgot security testing in a rush to outrun the competition and bring their mobile app to the market as soon as possible. Let’s look at the consequences of launching an application without proper AppSec.
Compromised login information
According to RiskBased, hackers exposed over 4 billion records in the first half of last year alone. There are dozens of ways to get login credentials for even an inexperienced hacker. One recent example, found by Kaspersky in the first quarter of 2020, is Cookiethief.
This trojan steals cookies from the Facebook app and mobile browsers and gives hackers access to user accounts. This allows the attackers to perform various actions in the user’s name, including changing the login credentials. Since a lot of people use Facebook login for other apps and services, this trojan can potentially expose sensitive data from more apps.
Stolen financial information
With the global crisis and the pandemic not showing any signs of stopping, hackers are learning to adapt. Kaspersky has recently found a new modification of the popular malware Ginp – Coronavirus Finder. The trojan is disguised as an app able to detect people infected with COVID-19 nearby.
Not only did its creators scam users by exploiting their reasonable fears, but they also received access to numerous credit card details. Hackers could even intercept multi-factor authorization OTPs and exploit other apps on the device.
Diminished growth resources
Restoring operations after a hacking attack means your business can suffer a serious setback. Companies are known to go bankrupt or having to let go employees just to stay afloat after a cyberattack.
And even if your app wasn’t compromised much and the consequences weren’t severe, having to redirect your growth budgets to repair the damage left by the hackers might cost you years of business development. Preventing a security breach is much cheaper.
Lost profits and destroyed reputation
If your app has premium features, you have to be especially careful with your security. For example, in March this year, there were numerous reports of Spotify Premium accounts hacked. As a result, Spotify got an army of irritated customers, and you can bet some of them have unsubscribed. In the end, a business is as good as its customers believe it is.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect for only a couple of years, but the fines issued have already crossed €175 million. If your app deals with customers from the areas protected by the GDPR, and your failure to comply with cybersecurity regulations results in a data breach, you are sure to get severely punished by the regulator.
Even if you don’t operate in the EU, other countries have their own regulations either already in place or coming soon. And when you’re researching general privacy regulations, make sure to check if there are specific rules to comply with in your industry (eg., banking and finance) in various countries.
While these consequences can make you feel uneasy, many of them can be prevented. But in order to know how to protect your mobile app, you need to know the threats first.
The OWASP top 10 for mobile
The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a collaborative effort of tens of thousands of security specialists worldwide on a mission to make the web a secure place. Founded in 2001, OWASP has created numerous tools, methodologies, and recommendations for web and mobile software. They also share their list of the top 10 risks to raise awareness about the latest security threats among software developers.
The finalized list of mobile security issues included the following ones:
Improper platform usage
Mobile platforms provide well-documented features and capabilities, like TouchID, Keychain, permissions. If the app your team is developing fails to implement those features or misuses them (intentionally or unintentionally), this can result in a security violation.
Insecure data storage
This security risk might result from insecure storage in SQL databases, logs, data stores, and cookie stores. Other issues include weak server-side controls and undocumented or poorly documented internal processes. Finally, unintended data leakage might be a culprit here.
This risk refers to all aspects of insecurely transferring data from point A to point B. It includes all possible issues with mobile communications technologies such as GSM, TCP/IP, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G, SMS, etc. Poor TLS connection goes here too. If your app’s data can be changed or compromised during transmission with a man-in-the-middle attack or even simple eavesdropping, that is insecure communication.
If your app stores passwords and secret keys on its user’s device, you’ve got yourself an insecure authentication. The same goes for using weak password policies and anonymously executing an API service request without an access token.
OWASP emphasizes two ways flawed cryptography can get into an application. The first one is the use of fundamentally flawed processes behind cryptography that hackers easily exploit to decrypt your data. The second one is the use of a naturally weak encryption algorithm. So make sure your team knows about both.
If your app’s code doesn’t perform a valid authorization check, you’re stuck with bad authorization schemes. As a result, hackers can smoothly gain access to administrative functionality. Another way to get this security risk is to transmit the permissions or user roles as part of a request.
Client code quality
This one refers to all the vulnerabilities created by various code-level mistakes on the device side. We’re talking about buffer overflows and format string vulnerabilities.
Technically, all mobile code is vulnerable to tampering once delivered to the end user’s device. Hackers can change the code itself, change or replace APIs, modify your data or resources, and more.
This is another security risk all mobile apps are technically susceptible to. All a hacker needs to do to exploit it is download your app and run an analysis of your core binary using relatively common binary inspection tools like Hopper, otool, or IDA Pro.
Developers often introduce apps forgetting to remove the functionality that wasn’t supposed to be released. And attackers are happy to exploit backdoor functionality, security controls switched off for testing purposes, a password in a comment, and more. So make sure your development team doesn’t forget to lock all the doors on the app.
Now that you know the typical mobile security threats, it’s time to discover the main areas usually affected by them.
Key Areas in Mobile App Security
Like any other important task, mobile application security testing requires a smart approach and prioritization. These are the key areas we at Relevant pay attention to (and you should, too).
While mobile apps are less susceptible to traditional injection attacks and memory management issues, you can’t afford to produce sloppy code. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the security as code culture to your team and implement the DevSecOps methodology. If your team keeps security in mind from the very beginning and follows the best practices while coding, you’ll be safe from many issues.
Interaction with the platform
Platform-specific features like app permission systems that control access to APIs or inter-process communication (IPC) facilities, which let apps exchange data, have underlying potential problems. These pitfalls can also unintentionally expose other apps on the user’s device.
Local data storage
Taking extra care with data storage means better protection to your users’ sensitive data. But if you lose caution and use the local storage or misuse IPC, it might expose sensitive data to other apps on the device and unintentionally leak data to backups, keyboard cache, or cloud storage.
Read also about cloud native app development.
Authentication and authorization
Unlike websites, mobile applications often store session tokens. It does allow for better user experience and faster login but introduces additional security risks and error possibilities. If you outsource authentication to 2FA providers and the authentication process goes through a separate app on the same device, your security tester has to pay attention to it, too.
Speaking of mobile app security testing, why don’t we take a look at some of the most popular approaches and techniques?
Mobile application security testing techniques
Fundamentally, there are two approaches to security testing: standard testing, which is done at the end of the application development cycle, and the adoption of security requirements and security testing throughout the whole development cycle (SDLC).
Here are the main methods used in the security testing of mobile apps.
White-, black-, and grey-box testing
These three approaches differ in the extent to which testers can explore the mobile app from the inside.
- White-box testing. This method implies that the tester knows the app’s ins and outs and has access to the source code and various documentation. White-box testing allows for faster testing and more sophisticated test cases.
- Black-box testing. With this approach, the tester has no prior knowledge of the app, which allows them to behave like a user (or hacker) and exploit the publicly available info.
- Gray-box testing. This one is the most common approach in security testing. With it, some information (like the credentials) is provided, but the rest is to be discovered by the tester.
This self-explanatory procedure is usually automated and done with various scanners, although it can also be done manually. There are two approaches to vulnerability analysis:
- Static analysis. This type of check implies an examination of software components without actually running the application. Its purpose is to review the implementation of security controls. It can be done in two ways: automatic and manual. Automatic analysis quickly picks the low-hanging fruit by checking the code against the preferred rules or standard practices. Manual code analysis allows testers to identify security vulnerabilities in design flaws, common standards violations, and business logic.
- Dynamic analysis. The dynamic check aims to find vulnerabilities and security holes while the mobile application is running. This type of analysis usually looks for the most common errors in server configuration, authorization and authentication issues, data leaks in transit, etc.
Penetration testing is a full-scale thorough security testing of mobile apps on the final stage of its development. Usually, it follows the same structure:
- Preparation. Testers identify testing goals, appropriate security controls, and which data to deem sensitive. They also address various legal issues at this stage.
- Gathering intelligence. The testing team gathers and analyzes the application’s contexts (environmental and architectural).
- Mapping the application. This stage provides a deeper understanding of the mobile app. What are the entry points? What data does it gather and store? What are the possible security vulnerabilities? Mapping answers these questions and allows testers to prioritize better.
- Exploitation. At this stage, testers try to penetrate the app and exploit the previous stage’s vulnerabilities.
- Final report. At the final stage, the testing team lists the vulnerabilities they found, details the exploitation process, documents all the security risks, and reports all the data they could reach illegitimately.
The second approach to security testing is security as part of the development process. At Relevant, we know how important it is to have security in mind from the very start and test it throughout the software development life cycle. We’ve even written a very detailed article on it here. You’re more than welcome to check it out.
Secure your mobile application with Relevant
Mobile application security testing requires time, tools, and expertise. Luckily for you, Relevant has all of that in abundance.
Relevant can help you with black,- white,- and grey-box testing and vulnerability analysis, as well as testing cloud security and the code review of your mobile app. We also offer AppSec consulting, so go ahead and contact us if you have any mobile application security issues, questions, or concerns.