The state of application security: What the statistics tell us

Companies are moving toward a DevSecOps approach to application development, but problems remain with security testing ownership and open-source code vulnerabilities.

The emergence of the DevOps culture over the past several years has fundamentally changed software development, allowing companies to push code faster and to automatically scale the infrastructure needed to support new features and innovations. The increased push toward DevSecOps, which bakes security into the development and operations pipelines, is now changing the state of application security, but gaps still remain according to data from new industry reports.

Security testing ownership

A new report by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), which surveyed 378 application developers and application security professionals in North America, found that many organizations continue to push code with known vulnerabilities into production despite viewing their own application security programs as solid.

Releasing vulnerable code is never good but doing so knowingly is better than doing it without knowing, since the decision usually involves some risk assessment, a plan to fix, and maybe temporary mitigations. Half of respondents said their organizations do this regularly and a third said they do it occasionally. The most often cited reasons were meeting a critical deadline, the vulnerabilities being low risk or the issues being discovered too late in the release cycle (45%).

The findings highlight why integrating security testing as early in the development process as possible is important, but also that releasing vulnerable code is not necessarily a sign of not having a good security program because this can happen for different reasons and no single type of security testing will catch all bugs. However, the report also found that many organizations are still in the process of expanding their application security programs, with only a third saying their programs cover more than three quarters of their codebase and a third saying their programs cover less than half.

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