Think the apps you use every day are secure? Think again. From cloud-hosted services to desktop or mobile software, applications are a major target of cyber criminals around the world. Enhanced application security is a major cyber security trend in 2020, and with good reason: In 2019, it was reported that nearly half of all business web applications in Australia are at risk of cyber attacks.

Whether you’re a small business, employee of a large corporation, or a private individual concerned by your cyber security, application security is definitely something to be mindful of. Insecure web and mobile applications can expose you to a range of cyber threats, all of which have the potential to cause financial loss, reputation damage, and more.

To explain the 4 major application security threats you need to be aware of in 2020, we’ve teamed up with the cyber security experts at ESET. From malware to DDOS attacks, read on to learn the biggest cyber security threats relating to application security in 2020 – and how to overcome them.

  1. Brute force attacks

In this aptly named type of cyber attack, cyber criminals use a combination of luck and perseverance to guess security credentials and gain access to sensitive information. In some cases, these credentials can be on-sold to third parties, or or used to redirect domains to external sites containing malicious content.

Brute force attacks are one of the oldest tricks in the book of cyber security threats, but they’re also one of the most effective. In large part, their ongoing effectiveness comes down to a widespread lack of security around password set up and practices. According to a 2019 survey by password management app LastPass, over half of respondents used the same passwords for work and personal accounts, and 62% reuse passwords. Experts strongly advise against both practices, and suggest practicing good password hygiene for every account.

  1. Injection attacks

“Injection attack” is a broad umbrella term that encompasses a number of different types of web application attacks, all of which can cause harm ranging from data loss to full system compromises.  The most common attacks of this type are Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and SQL injection attacks, though at least 7 other cyber attacks of this nature are known.

To execute an injection attack, a cyber aggressor must first find a weakness in the front end of the web application, which they can then use to break into the back end. In most cases, this weakness takes the form of cookies or a user input form. Once the aggressor has identified this, they can effectively push code of their choosing through to the back end of the database, where it can delete, modify, or copy database entries. To prevent such attacks, developers should be made aware of the threat and implement measures that “sanitise” user input before accepting it into the back end.

  1. Ongoing threat of malware

From ransomware and spyware to Trojan Horse attacks and worms, malware remains a major cyber security threat in 2020. Few applications are immune from malicious attacks of this nature, with some mobile platforms being particularly vulnerable: In 2019, 25 million Android phones were infected with malware that concealed itself in the popular WhatsApp messenger.

In 2020, mobile and desktop users alike are advised to use discretion when downloading software or applications from unknown sources, and to exercise caution when opening links and attachments from unknown or suspicious senders. Antivirus and malware removal software can also play a critical role in identifying and deleting malicious applications, if not preventing them from entering the device in the first place.

  1. DDOS attacks

Distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks, are a sophisticated form of cyber attack in which aggressors incapacitate a network of devices and expose their associated databases to further harm. To achieve this coordinated attack, cyber aggressors first infect computers and mobile devices within the target network with malware that turns each device into a “bot”. The aggressor can then remotely control each of these bots in what is known as a “botnet”.

This botnet can then be used to send requests to the target server at a volume and frequency that overwhelms the network, causing service to be denied to genuine users and traffic. One of the best ways to prevent DDOS attacks is by investing in agile network equipment or a cloud-based protection service that can route user traffic to multiple data centres. Sophisticated protection services of this nature can also help detect attacks as they occur and use AI to learn, and stay ahead of, potential attack patterns.

Enhance your application security in 2020

Although there are numerous, significant threats to application security in 2020, these are by no means insurmontable. Whether you’re a large corporation or a growing SME, proactive measures and constant vigilance can help you remain ahead of the cyber security curve.

To ensure that your applications are up to speed and able to withstand increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, consider investing in an end-to-end business security solution from ESET. To learn more about ESET’s wide offering of security software for Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux devices, get in touch with them today!

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