What Is Application Security? App Security Scores

Less than 10 years ago, a security search in Apple’s recently launched iCloud service almost sank the company. Millions of private celebrity photos were leaked online. Photos were taken by Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, James Franco, and dozens more. Photos that, according to Apple’s “strict” protocols should have been safeguarded. The breach was spearheaded by a lone hacker and it was the result of an error on Apple’s part. Since that day, the company has upped its safeguard and implemented security scores. And Apple isn’t the only one. But what exactly are they, how are they calculated, and how do they help you out. In this article, we’ll talk about App security codes — and application security in general.

What is application security?

Application security is the protection of an App or software from all kinds of threats — not only internal but external. In other words not only those that come from attacks but those that are accidental and just products of human error or bad oversight/management. App security is a process of identifying, analyzing, and mitigating vulnerabilities in software.

Application security is an important aspect of software development. It ensures that the application will not be compromised by any external attack. Application security also includes maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data stored in an application.

What is an application security score?

An application security score is a rating system that evaluates the security of an app. It is an industry-standard that takes into account how fortified your app is. The score is calculated by evaluating different factors like the number of vulnerabilities and the severity of those vulnerabilities.

It takes into account a lot of factors and its production is incredibly complex. Calculating is an art as well as a science.

Still, what most developers and companies have to understand is that the higher the number, the more secure your app.

What is a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)?

CVSS is an acronym for Common Vulnerability Scoring System. It was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 1999. CVSS has three categories: Base, Temporal, and Environmental.

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System is a standardized open framework for assessing the severity of computer system security vulnerabilities. This is one of the industry-standard scores.

CVSS is a standardized and open protocol that provides a set of metrics to measure the severity of computer system security vulnerabilities. It uses three numbers to describe the impact, likelihood, and availability of the vulnerability. These three numbers are then used to calculate the final score which is represented in CVSS v3 as a base-10 logarithmic scale from 0 to 10.

What’s included in CVSS and how does that impact an application security score?

In a nutshell, CVSS is a standardized scoring system that helps IT security professionals to assess the severity of vulnerabilities and prioritize their remediation.

CVSS is an acronym for Common Vulnerability Scoring System. CVSS provides three score components:

  • Base score
  • Temporal score
  • Environmental scores.

The Base score is a measure of the intrinsic vulnerability severity independent of any mitigating factors such as exploitability or patch availability. The Temporal score measures how much time has passed since the vulnerability was released into the environment which may affect its exploitation and patch availability. The Environmental score measures how many users are exposed to this vulnerability in their normal course of work or personal use which may affect exploitability and patch availability.

CVSS uses a base 10 point. All scores are calculated based on a rather complex formula, one that’s dependent on various key factors. The main goal of the CVSS score is to help companies understand the severity of a vulnerability. 10 being the most severe.

  • A low score means that if a threat does manage to exploit a vulnerability it will have only a minute effect on the organization. It won’t damage it too much and the company can surf it.
  • Medium score: this label means that if the vulnerability is exploited it will have a widespread serious effect on the organization. Massive monetary losses. Massive image problems.
  • High score: the final value indicates that if exploited, the result of a breach could be catastrophic — something which the company cannot recover from.

Base metric group

A base metric group is a metric group that is used to measure the severity of a vulnerability.

The Base category measures the severity of a vulnerability based on four metrics: Access Vector, Access Complexity, Authentication, and Confidentiality Impact

Temporal metric group

Temporal metrics measure the duration or persistence of the vulnerability. It takes into account how the vulnerability has evolved. Has it decreased? Has it grown fangs? This value constantly shifts and changes — it depends on how the exploit has been tackled, whether it has been mitigated, disclosed, or somehow automated to no longer affect the company.

Environmental metric group

Environmental metrics measure the scope of impact in terms of system resources and availability. It also takes into account if a certain set of factors or environmental parameters have to be present for the vulnerability to activate. Environmental metrics also take into account how the product or software has been deployed — this measure is calculated subjectively, normally by the affected parties.

Why is an App security score important?

A score more or less tells you a bit about your software’s health and how open it is to exploits. It gives you a clear idea of the present dangers and those that may or may not surface along the way. It is important to have a real understanding of this since by using a score of this type you can start to mitigate problems and formulate a plan. What to tackle first, what level of risk you're willing to accept, and where to invest. This is important given how costly some vulnerabilities might be. How much do you need to invest in order to patch them up?