The growing competition, especially in the digital world, has meant that businesses are looking at strategies to not only beat the competition blues, but also secure their ROI as well. The evolving business strategies are forcing companies to adopt new technologies and generate quality software applications to bring about business transformation. This is especially done in the domains of social media, mobility, cloud computing, big data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT).
However, parallel to the growth in the number of innovative software products and the volume of data, there is a growing cybersecurity threat as well. The bad news is that the threat is ever growing and is causing severe disruptions and financial losses to individuals, businesses, institutions and governments. Hence, to meet the growing challenge, businesses need to invest more in carrying out software product testing.
What is a cybersecurity threat?
As the world gets increasingly interconnected through the internet, there are individuals, groups, organizations and even governments trying to exploit the vulnerabilities of the systems, networks and applications. The cyber criminals are literally prowling the internet to target vulnerable systems. They do so to carry out espionage, money laundering, fund terror and narcotics trade, get monetary gains or seek revenge. These threats come in the form of viruses, ransomware, botnets, malware, and trojans that can wreak havoc on the systems, networks and applications.
Impact of cybersecurity threats
Financial loss: The cyber criminals are known for maliciously draining funds from the bank accounts of individuals, groups, and organizations. These funds run into billions of dollars. According to a study, the economic cost of cybercrime has risen to 0.8% of the global GDP or $600 billion a year (Source: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/252435439/Economic-impact-of-cyber-crime-is-significant-and-rising). Moreover, given the scale of under reporting of cybercrimes, the above figure is quite conservative. A major segment of the financial losses is attributed to the theft of intellectual property and confidential business information. Besides, financial loss can take place from denial or disruption of services as well. For example, the recent cases of ransomware attacks had caused severe disruption of services leading to a huge financial cost for the individuals and entities.
Loss of brand equity: Inadequate cyber security can result in criminals taking away confidential personal and business information held by entities such as banks, ecommerce firms, even individual accounts, and so on. When the customers of such entities end up facing financial losses, their implicit trust gets irretrievably broken. This leads to the loss of brand equity, a loss more severe than financial loss.
Costly legal suits: An inevitable consequence of personal data or money being siphoned off from companies is the filing of legal suits. Resultantly, the company targeted by cyber criminals can end up paying substantial sums of money as compensation. This can even lead to financial losses.
Falling foul of regulatory bodies: If companies are lax in implementing mandatory security protocols (exploited to the hilt by cyber criminals), they can face severe strictures and penalties.
Growing awareness about cybersecurity threats
Even though a lot of ground needs to be covered by the companies to secure themselves against cybersecurity threats, there is a growing awareness as well. According to a Gartner forecast, enterprises are likely to spend around $96.3 on cyber security in 2018 (Source: https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3836563)
Improving product security
The growing threat of cybersecurity and its dire implications signifies that it is no longer about merely reacting to the security breaches. The crying need is to strengthen the security defences of networks, systems, web and mobile applications. This intensifies the need for comprehensive software product testing services to validate software products. In addition to executing software application testing, there is a greater need to educate the users about such products.
No matter how strong the security architecture is, it can be easily broken into by the cyber criminals. This can be done by manipulating the users through social engineering, wherein individuals inadvertently end up giving their login/password details.
As businesses have become more aware of securing their assets — systems and networks, cyber criminals have started to target the applications. According to a Gartner report, around 80% of cyber attacks are at the application level. Hence, securing access to enterprise applications become the business imperative.
Areas of focus for software product testing
- To identify and eliminate the vulnerabilities in the product (application) that can provide access to an unauthorised person/device
- Incorporate or strengthen the security features such as encryption of data and authentication. Establish security protocols that involve the conduct of periodic or sudden audits
- Keep the security firewalls updated to monitor any new cyber-attack attempts
Software product testing methods
Product access: By incorporating ‘roles and rights management’, the access to a software product can be tested through authentication and authorization. Some of the software product testing methods to form a part of this segment are password test, default login, test for logout, password change, recovery, security question and Captcha.
Protection of data: Again, going by the ‘roles and rights management’ the type of data to be accessed by a person should be established. For example, the person at the enquiry should not be able to view the encrypted passwords or sensitive product data.
Static application security testing (SAST) or white box testing: Through automation, a SAST model identifies the vulnerabilities an application can possess while dealing with users or data. The vulnerabilities could be in the form of SQL injection and Cross site scripting (XSS).
Cybersecurity threats can exploit the vulnerabilities of software products leading to severe consequences. These have increased the need for software product testing services. The services are not only to secure the product, but also help it comply with regulations such as PCI, SOX, HIPAA, MITRE and GDPR.
Michael works for Cigniti Technologies, which is one of the North America’s largest Independent Software Testing companies, appraised at CMMI-SVC v1.3, Maturity Level 5, and an ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 27001:2013 certified organization.