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How-to guides

How to reduce security debt - part 2

Learn how you can stay on top of security tech debt, the best tools to reduce it, and what to do next, in the second part of our series.

Roy Horev | February 13, 2022

In our last blog, we covered security tech debt, how it happens, and how to reduce it. Here, we'll go into how you and your organization can remain on top of your tech debt, improve cyber hygiene and ultimately mitigate your risk.

What to do once you’ve paid your security tech debt

Once your security technical debt has been paid, your top priority should be to stay out of debt by using the best practices discussed. It is also important to establish a customer feedback system for reporting any bugs and vulnerabilities. In addition to setting up an efficient patch management system, consider assigning a dedicated team to automate your vulnerability management program to ensure you stay out of security debt.

Manage new debts by setting up documentation that explicitly lists these debts and their priorities to ensure debts are not overlooked and that they are paid.

Security testing methods and tools

Incorporating various security testing methods and tools into your process is another key to helping you stay out of debt.

SLSA

Supply Chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA) is a security framework aimed at improving security of the supply chain and improving software integrity.

SLSA is a vendor-neutral set of incrementally sophisticated security guidelines provided by the cross-industry collaboration of different vendors. 

It helps improve software quality and integrity by providing increasingly complex security levels that protect against advanced threats that arise from exploiting vulnerabilities of software in the supply chain.

SAST

Static application security testing (SAST) is a technique used to identify the root cause of a vulnerability in an application. It also helps to remediate these threats.

SAST tools focus on white-box testing, which focuses on the code structure and the workings of an application. These tools help to identify security vulnerabilities during development and provide developers with real-time vulnerability reports to facilitate vulnerability discovery and fixes.

Because SAST tools work only on the source code, they cannot perform security checks on third-party APIs. For this, you would need DAST tools.

DAST

Dynamic application security testing (DAST) uses black-box testing, which focuses on testing the functionality of the application without delving into the code structure.

DAST tools perform automated tests on an application functionality to expose vulnerabilities. With no access to source code, they instead work by carrying out actual attacks on the application, as a malicious user would. Examples of such attacks include cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).

IAST

Interactive application security testing (IAST) combines the best of both SAST and DAST. Like SAST, IAST runs and reports vulnerabilities in real-time; and like DAST, it tests the application functionality. IAST runs whenever there is an interaction with the application functionality by an automated testing program or by a human tester; and it only tests the functionality exercised by the interacting agent.

IAST also performs automated analysis from within an application and can be integrated into an IDE, Q&A environment, or in production. It therefore has access to more information, including:

  • The full source code
  • Configuration information
  • HTTP requests and response 
  • Third-party libraries, frameworks, and app components.

As a result, IAST analyzes more information and provides more accurate results.

Open-source security

There are a number of open-source tools you can integrate into your security testing suite. Examples include:

  • Nikto 2: A scanner for performing comprehensive security tests on web servers. 
  • Hashcat: A fast password recovery tool that provides up to five modes of attacks. It ships with over 300 hashing algorithms, making it a favorite for pen testers.
  • Wapiti: An open-source website or web application security scanner that provides modules for SQL injection, XSS, brute-force login, CSRF, and more.
  • Penetration testing: A means of ethical hacking to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your system that could be exploited by attackers. Pen testers may use a variety of tools, which can vary depending on the system or platform. Some include:
  • ZMap: A powerful, lightweight single-packet scanner that runs on GNU/Linux, MacOs, and BSD. It is capable of scanning anything, from a home network to the entire internet. It is a part of the ZMap project, a collection of open-source tools allowing researchers to perform studies on different internet hosts and services.
  • SQLmap: A powerful open-source penetration testing tool that ships with a solid detection engine. SQLmap allows pen testers to automate the simulation of detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities that arise from SQL injection.
  • Additional tools: There are many other available tools like Wireshark for analyzing network protocols and John Ripper for password security auditing and recovery.

Addressing security debt with automated risk remediation 

One of the most dangerous types of technical debt, security tech debt can severely impair a company's ability to innovate, can harm brand image, and severely impact your bottom line.

Adopting best practices including proper testing, effective patch management, and a DevSecOps approach can help you avoid security debt and keep your customers’ data safe.

The Vulcan Cyber® risk remediation platform orchestrates and automates the entire vulnerability remediation process from scan to fix. It integrates with your existing tools and security solutions—from asset management, testing, and patching to DevOps tools, ITSM, and configuration management. With access to thousands of vulnerabilities and fixes, Vulcan Cyber allows you to remediate security vulnerabilities early in the production process and at scale to deliver secure code at speed, without disrupting business operations.

Don’t let your vulnerabilities pile up. Gain free access to thousands of vulnerabilities with Vulcan Free and own your risk with Vulcan Remedy Cloud.