How to Prevent Application Vulnerabilities and Breaches

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Law enforcement has become a major target for cybercriminals in recent years. According to TechRepublic, there are roughly 18,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States.

These agencies are responsible for receiving, sending and storing large amounts of sensitive data that cybercriminals could potentially sell or hold for ransom. While modern applications are developed to resist common vulnerabilities and data breaches, no application is completely secure.

To stay protected from application vulnerabilities and breaches, law enforcement must take the necessary steps to safeguard their systems by implementing best practices.

Common Types of Application Attacks

Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and law enforcement agencies at all levels have difficulty keeping up. It is important to be familiar with the different types of application attacks that an agency could encounter to ensure that cybercriminals are dealt with swiftly in a way that minimizes data leaks.

Some of the most common types of application attacks include:

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  • Malware Attacks – Malware is a type of malicious software or program that exploits applications via evasion or obfuscation techniques. Examples include ransomware, viruses, spyware and Trojan worms.
  • DDoS – A distributed denial of service (DDoS) is a web application attack that causes applications to become unavailable to legitimate users. DDoS attacks typically involve flooding a server, system or network with requests in an attempt to deplete its resources.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks – XSS attacks involve the injection of malicious scripts or code by attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in an application. These attacks allow cybercriminals to steal confidential information, spread malware and perform other malicious activities.
  • SQL Injection Attacks – An SQL injection attack occurs when a cybercriminal injects malicious code into a server that uses SQL in an attempt to override security controls and gain access to sensitive information.
  • Man-in-the-Middle (MiM) Attacks – A MiM attack is when a cybercriminal places themselves between the application and user during a conversation to gain access to confidential information or take over an account.
  • Social Engineering Attacks – Social engineering is a type of psychological manipulation that involves coaxing users into taking actions that they would not ordinarily take, such as giving away passwords or revealing sensitive information.
  • Zero-Day Exploits – A zero-day exploit is a type of advanced web application attack in which the cybercriminal exploits a vulnerability before a developer has the opportunity to fix it or release a patch.
  • Botnet Attacks – A botnet is a collection of compromised or infected connected devices that are controlled remotely by cybercriminals. A cybercriminal can leverage a botnet for spreading malware, DDoS attacks, data theft or other malicious activities.

Tips to Prevent Application Vulnerabilities and Breaches

Applications must be kept secure round-the-clock to minimize vulnerabilities that could put law enforcement data at risk. Here are some ways that law enforcement agencies can help prevent application vulnerabilities and breaches.

Conduct Regular Security Audits

One of the best ways that law enforcement agencies can ensure that they are following proper application security practices is by regularly conducting security audits. Security audits can be performed in-house using a variety of methods, such as the Black Box Security Audit method, White Box Security Audit method or the Gray Box Security Audit method. For a more comprehensive viewpoint, consider appointing a third-party testing team that has the necessary experience and skills to complete the job correctly.

Ensure that All Data Is Encrypted

Proper encryption of data is critical to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to sensitive information. SSL/TLS encryption can be used to encrypt all communications that occur within the application. Even if an unauthorized person is able to gain access to a fully-encrypted application, they would not be able to read it.

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Apply Updates Whenever Possible

Updates are designed to keep applications running smoothly and to prevent the likelihood of vulnerabilities and security gaps. Updates can help improve compatibility, prevent security issues and improve program features. By always applying new updates when available, law enforcement agencies can help bridge any security gaps that may develop before cybercriminals have the opportunity to exploit them.

Implement Real-Time Security Monitoring

Real-time security monitoring can help strengthen an application by identifying potential security gaps early on and patching these vulnerabilities. There are many ways that law enforcement can implement round-the-clock security monitoring, such as with a web application firewall (WAF) which covers all aspects related to real-time application monitoring. The use of a WAF can help block a wide range of malicious activities in real time, such as XSS attacks and SQL injections.

Schedule a Consultation with CPI OpenFox

Working with an experienced IT partner can help prevent application vulnerabilities and breaches. CPI OpenFox is a leading information-sharing solutions provider that delivers reliable, optimized and secure law enforcement software and systems to state and local law enforcement agencies. Schedule a consultation with CPI to learn more about our products and solutions.