Application security is the process of developing, adding, and testing security features within applications to prevent security vulnerabilities against threats such as unauthorized access and modification.
Different types of application security features include authentication, authorization, encryption, logging, and application security testing. Developers can also code applications to reduce security vulnerabilities.
Authentication: When software developers build procedures into an application to ensure that only authorized users gain access to it. Authentication procedures ensure that a user is who they say they are. This can be accomplished by requiring the user to provide a user name and password when logging in to an application. Multi-factor authentication requires more than one form of authentication—the factors might include something you know (a password), something you have (a mobile device), and something you are (a thumb print or facial recognition).
Authorization: After a user has been authenticated, the user may be authorized to access and use the application. The system can validate that a user has permission to access the application by comparing the user’s identity with a list of authorized users. Authentication must happen before authorization so that the application matches only validated user credentials to the authorized user list.
Encryption: After a user has been authenticated and is using the application, other security measures can protect sensitive data from being seen or even used by a cybercriminal. In cloud-based applications, where traffic containing sensitive data travels between the end user and the cloud, that traffic can be encrypted to keep the data safe.
Logging: If there is a security breach in an application, logging can help identify who got access to the data and how. Application log files provide a time-stamped record of which aspects of the application were accessed and by whom.
Application security testing: A necessary process to ensure that all of these security controls work properly.