If your business operations involve any type of web or mobile app, it’s likely that the source code of these apps represents a very important part of your company’s intellectual property. As a result of the ongoing digital transformation, these apps have often become key pieces of a company’s competitive advantage and thus a strategic business asset. It’s no wonder then that unwarranted access to this source code could put this competitive advantage at risk. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as unprotected source code can lead to critical security issues such as automated abuse, piracy, and data exfiltration.
Regulations and standards such as NIST and ISO 27001 also mention the risks of unprotected source code, recommending that organizations put in place strict control procedures to keep them from experiencing the consequences of attacks to the source code.
Security Risks: Automated Abuse, Piracy and Data Exfiltration
As OWASP mentions, potential attackers can take advantage of the exposed code to modify the application’s data and resources, change the system APIs, or change the contents of memory dynamically. This way, they can hijack the intended use of the code for personal or monetary gain.
When it comes to piracy, attackers typically target the growing OTT industry, leaking premium content which naturally ends up causing a loss of revenue for legitimate businesses. Aware of the problem, providers are using multiple techniques to fight pirates and trace the leaked content, but they must ensure that attackers can’t easily bypass these techniques, namely by protecting their source code. Other examples of piracy are also commonly seen in the gaming and gambling industry where counterfeit apps pose a threat to the business integrity.
By leaving their source code exposed, organizations make it easier for attackers to understand how their web applications work and increase their attack surface. To secure their web and mobile applications, the best approach is to start securing them during the development stage.
This includes protecting the application’s source code with multiple layers, to ensure that any code sent to production can actively prevent tampering and reverse-engineering attempts. Plus, with the ongoing digital transformation showing no signs of slowing down, this approach can be crucial to ensure that companies’ intellectual property and user data are protected.
Originally published on: Cyber Defense Magazine