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Awareness There, Policies Lacking: Results of a New SANS Survey on Application Security Policies in Enterprises

  • Bethesda, MD
  • December 5, 2012

SANS Institute, a trusted and pervasive source of information security training, announces the results of its first Survey on Application Security Policies in Enterprises.

Sponsored by NT OBJECTives, Qualys, WhiteHat Security and Veracode, the survey reveals that awareness of risk is high across most organizations and that some form of policies are in place among 66% of the survey's nearly 700 respondents.

"This indicates that application security has grown out of its infancy and is becoming incorporated into policy," says SANS Analyst executive editor, Deb Radcliff. "The flip side is that there is that only two percent of survey takers have comprehensive, cradle-to-grave management of their applications."

The survey shows that organizations are managing multiple applications, yet 28% of respondents can't determine what applications are under their management.

Policies also vary for organizations that develop their own applications versus those managing commercial applications: Only 23% comprehensively manage development and lifecycle of applications they develop, and only 33% conduct extensive review of commercial applications prior to putting them into production.

Things get hazier when the discussion moves to outsourced or cloud applications, with only 22% relying on extensive testing and validation prior to production.

"Too many organizations are relying on their service providers and software vendors to 'do the right thing' when it comes to application security. This isn't enough," says SANS analyst Jim Bird, who coauthored the report. "They have to start taking more responsibility for securing their own software supply chains--especially bigger organizations with enough buying power to force real change on supplier behavior and accountability."

With regard to responsibility for application security, the survey allowed multiple responses. While most respondents put their C-level and managerial level IT and security professionals in charge of application security (83%) and 35% indicate that their development group is responsible. Another 33% said their risk and compliance managers were responsible. This is not surprising, given that, in another question, more than 40% of respondents selected compliance their top driver for their application security programs.

"Compliance has been a key driver to bring application security to a minimum initial baseline in many organizations," says SANS instructor Frank Kim, who also co-authored the survey report. "Mature processes coupled with skilled application security practitioners will be required to really expand the state of the art."

For full results of the survey, attend a special SANS webcast held at 1 PM EDT on December 13. To register for that webcast, follow this link:
www.sans.org/webcasts/survey-application-security-policies-enterprises-95622

The full report will be released at that time in the SANS Reading Room at www.sans.org/reading_room/analysts_program.

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The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 50 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates employee qualifications via 30 hands-on, technical certifications in information security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers master's degrees in cyber security. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system--the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community. (https://www.sans.org)