When organizations approach cybersecurity without sufficient forethought, financial support, reliable tools, and a strong strategy, they might actually increase their overall security risk by failing to protect and shrink their entire attack surface. With a more proactive approach backed by a robust budget, getting ahead of costly breaches and sensitive information leaks is a much more manageable feat.
The prevalence of web applications in today’s digital age is off the charts – there are over 5 billion active internet users in the world operating on about 2 billion websites and web applications. These web apps are relied on by businesses large and small for a variety of crucial tasks, like managing sensitive financial records, storing customer information, and processing business-critical operations and data on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly, these applications are also prime targets for cyberattacks that can result in data breaches, lost revenue, damage to brand reputation, and even legal implications if the organization is found at fault. Let’s look at some numbers:
- The average cost of a data breach, according to IBM, is a hefty $4.35 million, and in the U.S. alone, that number tops $9 million on average.
- The Identity Theft Research Center’s (ITRC) 2022 Annual Data Breach Report highlights that at least 422 million individuals were impacted by data compromises in a single year.
- There was a potential total loss increase from $6.9 billion to $10.2 billion in 2022, as outlined in the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2022, with 800,944 complaints of cybercrime.
- Financial damage from cyberattacks will likely hit about $10.5 trillion by 2025, which is a 300% increase from where we were in 2015.
To avoid such a costly price tag, it’s vital that you have a robust cybersecurity program to get ahead of the bad guys – and stay ahead – by controlling and reducing your threat exposure. But without thoughtful investment in the tools and managed services that can take you there, your program could be lacking in critical areas to help close security gaps throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
As businesses and budgets grow, so does the risk of not getting enough bang for your cybersecurity buck, meaning you could be spending more but achieving less. What’s more, business expansion increases the number of stakeholders and subsidiaries in the mix of operations, putting customers, suppliers, and partners in the crosshairs by proxy. Increased complexity also increases the criticality of businesses investing in the right web application security measures to cover their growing attack surfaces while ensuring the right level of access for all employees and partners.
When it comes to application security, reactive is more costly than proactive
In its Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, IBM noted that it takes an average of 277 days for security teams to identify, contain, and manage a breach. When teams are set up with the right tools, processes, and reliable resources in hand to squash security issues well before applications are sent out into the world, that number can shrink drastically, as proactive preparedness means they know exactly what they need to do when a problem arises. And when proactive security is done well, breaches shouldn’t even happen in the first place.
Being proactive is even more critical when businesses are expanding their offered services, absorbing more customers quickly, and adding partners or subsidiaries. As the business evolves and grows, so does the entire risk ecosystem, so ensuring that everything under your organizational umbrella is secure becomes a top priority. This means not just checking for security flaws early and often with application scanning tools – you also need to tackle issues with legacy applications that might have lingering vulnerabilities, keep paying down your security debt to alleviate risk and support security best practices for employees.
Attack surfaces keep growing regardless of company size
We know from Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) that web applications are the number one attack vector for cyberattacks, and even worse, personal data or credentials are compromised in nearly 70% of cyber incidents. We also know from additional research that nearly half (43%) of attacks are aimed at small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – but a mere 14% of those businesses are prepared to defend themselves.
Whether a large organization or a small startup, your data is valuable. You’re also running (and usually building) web applications, making you a potential target – and your customers as well. This is especially true for organizations enjoying rapid growth and the expanded digital ecosystems that naturally come with success, as risk and potential exposure can bloom wherever digital touchpoints are established. And with the global cost of cyberattacks potentially hitting $10 trillion in the coming years, forgoing security isn’t a risk that any organization should take.
Compliance and regulatory pressures are growing year by year
There have been a handful of compliance regulations and guidelines handed out by the United States government in recent months and years, from the Executive Order on Cybersecurity to a zero trust memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). On the tailwinds of industry-shaking incidents like SolarWinds, which involved a supply chain attack, federal mandates are stark reminders that real damage can be done to any organization.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 45% of organizations will see some sort of impact from a supply chain attack. A healthy and well-structured cybersecurity budget allows organizations to follow these federal mandates and guidelines closely, implementing the same security measures and best practices to ensure they’re taking the right guidance. As threats increase for the supply chain and other critical avenues of software distribution, having the financial muscle in your budget to keep up with regulations and compliance means you can address not only your own security but also that of your customers and partners.
Building a security culture needs a hands-on approach from leadership
Critical as it is to ensure you’re investing in the right security application scanning tools and management tools, it’s equally important to remember the human element. Ignoring human fallacy and knowledge gaps can result in real damage, with Verizon’s DBIR report tracing the causes of 82% of data breaches to human error or human action.
Getting ahead of this issue requires top-down leadership initiatives to create a security culture and invest in the right talent along the way. Steering the security ship for the entire organization is a challenge without effective guidance and without the requisite resources proactively baked into your cybersecurity budget. For example, the CISO should fully understand the company’s threat landscape and potential risks, taking a very hands-on role in disseminating information about security tools and best practices throughout the rest of the organization. With that authority to point the way, all employees can then approach security with confidence.
Employees cannot skirt the rules set down by security leaders, or the entire organization is at risk. Just as a simple phishing attack via email can open the way to a more damaging attack and allow bad actors to infiltrate company systems, having inadequate or inconvenient application security tools can result in exploitable vulnerabilities making it into production. Investing in role-specific security training to improve culture and embedding the right tools into sensitive systems and processes is proactive security in action.
To learn more about rationally choosing a web application security solution based on no less than 17 criteria, get our free Web Application Security Buyer’s Guide.