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Beware hackers are targeting your HR apps

Your HR applications are being targeted by hackers. Exactly how do you prevent them? Establish priorities.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to compile a list of the items you possess, which in turn necessitates their protection. It is imperative to identify the “attack surfaces” that are most visible to hackers who are attempting to gain access to your HR information system. Additionally, it is necessary to implement the appropriate tools to prevent attackers from entering.

Fortunately, this is feasible. It necessitates a modest amount of time, effort, and, of course, investment.


The most prevalent assault surface is web applications.

The preferred assault surface of hackers is a well-known fact. Web applications are at the forefront, as evidenced by numerous data breach reports.

Amy DeMartine, the author of Forrester’s The State of Application Security 2019, commences her work with the following assertion: “Cybercriminals continue to employ application weaknesses and software vulnerabilities as their primary methods of conducting external attacks.”

The application layer is the primary attack surface for hackers, with 84% of cyberattacks occurring on it, as per SAP.

The use of web applications that are not secure allows for the entry of hackers.

There should be no ambiguity regarding the reason why web applications are a target. Potentially unbounded access is available to attackers who are able to exploit a web application vulnerability.

“No matter the data security or network protections that are in place, malicious attackers who exploit an application through a vulnerability or weakness will also have access to the data that the application has access to,” DeMartine wrote in the report.

Certainly, web applications are utilized by all businesses with an online presence, including those that are employed for HR purposes. Software is utilized to develop those applications. And hackers are aware that software is rarely flawless. They are also aware that not all organizations implement patches for bugs or other vulnerabilities.

The 2017 breach of Equifax, which compromised the personal and financial information of approximately 147 million individuals, is perhaps the most notorious example of the past several years. This incident was made possible by the company’s failure to install a two-month-old patch for a vulnerability in Apache Struts, a widespread open-source web framework.

However, this was insufficient to compel corporations to take notice. A third of audited codebases containing Apache Struts were still vulnerable to the same issue that afflicted Equifax, as demonstrated by the 2018 Synopsys Open Source Security and Risk Analysis (OSSRA) report, nine months later.


How to safeguard your HR web applications from hacking

Therefore, it is evident that safeguarding your web applications is of paramount importance.

There are methods to accomplish this; the critical term is “methods.” It is impossible to determine a single approach. Avoid any sales pitch that promises that your applications will be secure if you utilize this mystical “all-in-one” instrument.

There is no absolute security in life or online. However, by implementing the appropriate tools throughout the software development life cycle, you can be certain that your web applications are safeguarded from all but the most motivated and experienced hackers.

Understand the contents of your code through software composition analysis.

To begin, it is beneficial to be aware of the software components that are currently in use and their origins. Although the majority of organizations develop proprietary software, open source is also employed by nearly all of them—99 percent, according to the OSSRA.

There is no issue with that; open source contributes to the reduction of the time and cost associated with application development. It offers pre-made “raw materials,” which eliminates the necessity for developers to reimagine the fundamentals each time they develop a new application.

However, open source software is not necessarily more or less secure than other software, and it is also subject to licensing obligations. This implies that organizations that neglect to monitor their software usage may overlook notifications regarding corrections for identified vulnerabilities. Also, they may be subject to legal consequences for violating the terms of the open source license.

The method to circumvent all of this is through software composition analysis (SCA). Through automated analysis and policy enforcement, SCA enables you to mitigate your open source security and license compliance risks.

Additionally, it is crucial to incorporate SCA into the software development life cycle at an earlier stage. It simplifies, expedites, and reduces the cost of resolving those issues.


Identify and resolve security vulnerabilities in web applications

These are additional instruments that should be incorporated into the software development life cycle:

  • Static application security testing (SAST) assists in the identification and correction of security and quality vulnerabilities in proprietary code during the development process. The Forrester report mentioned earlier discovered that an increasing number of companies are “more likely to implement SAST in the development phase.” Security professionals can provide remediation advice to developers at the most cost-effective and straightforward stage of the SDLC by utilizing new tools that enable developers to “spell-check” their code in their IDEs.

  • During dynamic application security testing (DAST), applications are executed in an environment that resembles production.
    IAST (interactive application security testing) automates the testing of operating applications to identify and verify vulnerabilities and sensitive data leakage.

  • Penetration testing is typically conducted at the conclusion of the development process, after the majority of vulnerabilities have been identified and resolved. It emphasizes exploratory risk analysis and business logic by identifying vulnerabilities in web applications and services and attempting to exploit them.

  • It may be intimidating for development teams to implement a diverse array of application security testing tools, as they are concerned that it will impede their progress. However, it is a fact that identifying and resolving vulnerabilities at an earlier stage in the software development life cycle is more straightforward and ultimately less costly.