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Making the Case for Application Security Testing

jasonjohnson ‎07-16-2014 11:18 AM - edited ‎08-03-2015 10:07 AM

Anyone with experience in the field of application security and information security has heard it all from management.


“Of course, we want our applications to be secure, we just don’t want it to cost anything.”


I’d ask everyone who’s ever heard something like that when trying to pitch security to raise their hand, but then you’d all have your hands up. There’s a certain stigma with application security, specifically security testing, that it’s far too expensive to return proper value. As a result, proper security testing becomes viewed more as a roadblock in the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) as opposed to a dimension of quality as it should.


Of course, as soon as a company suffers a public data breach their tune often changes, but I digress.


The next time you’re tasked with painting a picture to show the value in application security testing, consider the following thoughts.


Testing early in the SDLC costs far less than later or, heaven forbid, after code is in production. 

  • Some industry estimates forecast the cost to remediate a vulnerability is 6.5 times as high in production vs. early on in the development lifecycle. If there’s a true interest in keeping costs down, then testing as early as possible is the winning case.

A serious data breach will cost far more than application security testing will, and not just in money. 

  • We all know a data breach is bad – the costs to correct the issue will be large. However, what many don’t consider are the intangible costs to the company including brand damage and loss of customer confidence. Regaining a once sparkling reputation can be tough, if not impossible, to do.

Securing what you don’t know is practically impossible. 

  • Assuming there really is a desire to implement secure software into the environment, then foregoing or shortchanging security testing is akin to driving at night with your headlights off. Attempting to secure vulnerabilities that are unknown is an exercise in futility.

Security is a dimension of quality, even if management doesn’t view it as such.

  • Considering the points above, specifically relating to rising costs throughout the SDLC, and brand reputation, security should rightly be viewed alongside performance and reliability (among others) as an important component of quality.


It’s unrealistic to expect application security to ever have an unlimited budget.  Despite that, I still feel when armed with the proper points to discuss with decision makers, a very strong case can be made to show value in security testing, and truly view it as an investment in quality.


About HP Fortify on Demand


HP Fortify on Demand is a cloud-based application security solution. We perform multiple types of manual and automated security testing, including web assessments, mobile application assessments, thick client testing, ERP testing, etc.--and we do it both statically and dynamically, both in the cloud and on-premise.




photo credit: Images_of_Money via photopin cc



About the Author


Jason Johnson is a Sr. Security Consultant with HP Fortify on Demand.

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