How to Ensure Security for Your Web Application Technology Stack

A person drawing the security icon

Every business needs high-quality protection against external cyber threats. Just like any other technology, cybersecurity involves a combination of approaches and software tools, with the cybersecurity tech stack (CS) being one of them. But how do you create a secure stack?

We live in a world where cyber threats are increasing exponentially, forcing businesses to look hard at updating their cybersecurity strategy. According to a report by itgovernance.co.uk, 1,120 leaks and cyberattacks occurred in 2020. This helps explain why businesses are placing greater emphasis on the security of the stack as a means of defending themselves from all types of cyber threats.

With the aid of advanced technological solutions that satisfy the needs of a specific website, app, or process, you can significantly reduce external risks and ensure the stable operation of your product.

In this article, we will try to figure out what a secure tech stack should look like and what factors should be considered when developing a web app tech stack.

What is the cybersecurity tech stack?

Key components of the cybersecurity tech stack (assured systems and content, integrated security overlay, intelligence, national cyber response)

The cybersecurity tech stack includes a variety of tools such as traditional antivirus software and firewalls as well as more complex tools like DNS filters. All are aimed at ensuring the security of a solution and mitigating its vulnerabilities.

A standard security stack consists of the following components:

  • Advanced systems and concepts (AS&C). This component represents a complex of information and communication technologies, ensuring the safe operation of the protected object in the appropriate cyber threat environment.
  • Integrated overlay of security. This component provides for security management at the network and application level using special equipment and software.
  • Artificial Intelligence. Anonymity and the many drawbacks of TCP/IP become an obstacle to malware detection: this is why you should use AI algorithms that monitor everything that happens inside and outside the network.

Each component of stack cybersecurity serves specific areas of cyber threats, ensuring a unified security shield.

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Why do you need to secure your tech stack?

Over recent years, the intensity of cyberattacks, which mostly target commercial projects, has grown significantly. Between 2019 and 2021, malware attacks increased by 358% overall, while ransomware shot up by 435%. At the same time, phishing apparently accounts for more than 80% of reported cyberattacks.

The average amount of financial loss caused by cyberattacks such as phishing and social engineering is about $130,000 per enterprise. Meanwhile, mass attacks are carried out from all directions (network channels, email, or other devices). Therefore, an enterprise needs a comprehensive security approach in order to protect its products, solutions, and web applications against these assaults.

Protection and monitoring of devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets used by company staff can significantly reduce these risks. The most reasonable solution to the problem is a cybersecurity stack, providing high-quality cyber protection on all sides.

What can you expect from integrating a security stack into a project? It depends on the tasks faced by the specialist implementing the security strategy, as well as the size and characteristics of a particular project. But whatever stack you choose, it must:

  • meet all individual, group, and interdepartmental needs
  • easily integrate and sync with any system in place.

The implementation of a cybersecurity stack allows you to control the network, digital assets, key services, operating system, database, servers, and user applications, ensuring their correct and coordinated work. One of the most important benefits of CS is an additional saving on backup and disaster recovery, which allows you to allocate resources for the detection and processing of potential and active cyberattacks.

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How to build a secure tech stack

Two people discussing the security aspects and there are privacy and security icons around them

To build a secure tech stack, you need a whole set of tools and actions balancing the entire system. There is a misconception that the more services and tools that are integrated into the system, the more effective it is. But in practice, if your tech stack architecture is too complex, it leads to management challenges, which in turn create multiple vulnerabilities. What’s more, an overly complicated system requires high investment. Therefore, when building a secure tech stack, you should be mindful of the saturation point. Further strengthening of the system with additional tools can only undermine comprehensive security.

Key steps

The process of building an effective security stack can be divided into 4 key stages:

  • Stack scheduling. At this stage, the main risks associated with the operation of a web resource or application are identified, after which a detailed assessment of each factor is carried out.
  • Stack creation. During this step, you should assemble the technological components of the stack into a single multi-level security system.
  • Stack testing. After the stack is assembled, experts conduct a series of tests to identify weaknesses in the security system.
  • Stack improvements. Based on the test results, the data/information obtained are analyzed; specific solutions are proposed and implemented to enhance the security stack.

Building a secure tech stack isn’t just about combining tools from different suppliers. When choosing a software product, it is important to consider such aspects as the area of ​​responsibility of the software supplier (there have been many reports of subcontracting for the provision of security services). This applies to both operational aspects and possible litigation with the supplier in the aftermath of a successful cyberattack.

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Which solutions are considered efficient?

Companies that design and implement the secure tech stack usually split the security solutions into the following main elements:

  • Physical security of systems and equipment, including access control and Zero Trust
  • Network Perimeter Security, including detection and prevention of intrusions and improvement of endpoint security
  • Secure Internal Communication, which includes data loss prevention and insider threat management
  • Multi-factor user authentication to control access to data, including biometric control
  • Backup and recovery after an accident or hacking
  • Continuous network monitoring of infrastructure and a system for responding to emerging threats
  • Long-term response to successful cyberattacks, including cyber forensics, investigation, and litigation strategy
  • Encryption, archiving, and cloud storage of data

Other things must be included too, in particular antivirus software, training for employees in cybersecurity and anti-phishing issues, Intrusion Detection Systems, vulnerability scanners, VPN, sandbox, and Intrusion Protection Systems (IPS). The implementation of the entire complex of solutions into a single security stack can guarantee adequate protection of data on the network and the stable operation of all services.

The lines of defense

In the process of creating a web product, specialists develop and implement cybersecurity controls to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data. To ensure cyber risk management you should also implement the three lines of defense model to achieve web product security.

The first line – Operational Management

As the first line of defense, the enterprise’s front line managers own the control functions. For example, they are responsible for configuring and implementing controls, developing policies, and managing day-to-day risks.

The second line of defense – Risk Monitoring and Oversight

This is an independent control function that oversees risks, tracking the first line of defense. It is where the effectiveness of controls and risk management in the organization is monitored.

The third line of defense – Audit

The internal and external audit provides an independent assurance. This involves an audit of the security of confidential data, including access audit, audit of information security incidents, and audit of infrastructure health.

To ensure the security of your stack and, therefore, your web solution, it is important to use not just one solution but a whole range of approaches. You can’t expect a secure tech stack to keep 100% of emerging threats at bay. It’s vital to understand that sooner or later the first line of defense will be breached. The point here is that if the first level of protection, in the form of an employee trained in the fundamentals of cybersecurity, doesn’t work, then the company should be able to count on the second or third levels.

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Other factors to consider when building your web app tech stack

Factors to consider when building your web app tech stack (stage of business development, project requirements, resource availability, development and maintenance cost, time to market, scalability, safety)

There are other important factors that should be taken into account when forming a web app tech stack.

Time to market

All startups, as well as large enterprises and small businesses, want to launch an MVP as soon as possible. Any option that allows you to build and launch a working prototype in the shortest possible time is suitable for such a purpose. You should start with WordPress as the most simple and user-friendly CMS if you’re developing a website. However, if we’re talking about the financial industry, with its high security standards, you should lean towards Java.

Important: At the same time, the shorter the period from the start of work on a project to its immediate launch, the more room for maneuver the company has to study reviews and adjust its product. 

Resource availability

If you opt for a stack from the top developer communities, the programming services will cost you much less than if you choose a not-so-popular technology like Lisp. The more versatile the technology, the easier it is to find the professionals who will serve the project and to attract new members to the team.

Project requirements

Before choosing a tech stack, you should focus on the project requirements. A technological stack is a complex combination that includes programming languages, software, and a range of frameworks used to develop a project. The architecture of any web solution includes client and server parts. The client part is represented by the programming language responsible for the interactive part, including CSS, UI frameworks, and libraries. The server zone assumes backend programming, databases, cloud, and web servers. The requirements for the functionality of both these parts determine the evolution of the development tools as they directly affect the technology stack.

Adaptability

The stack must allow third-party integration and be available to developers. It is also worth paying attention to the complexity of the tests. The stack you choose should provide easy bug fixes and straightforward feature customization when necessary.

Scalability

Here we are talking about the vertical and horizontal scaling of the stack. Vertical scaling refers to the ability to add additional resources easily. Horizontal scaling offers the possibility of increasing the number of users and transactions. Scalability is one of the most important criteria when choosing a CS. You need to plan ahead and consider the potential for scaling the web application so that you can add new services, modules, and other resources without hassle as the application grows.

Each stack must meet the most advanced security standards and ensure there will be a significant reduction in threat. At the same time, you will need to focus on the technologies that can solve the security problems of your project.

Remember that it will take time for a new stack to adapt. Also, keep in mind that a number of technical stacks require frequent updates: these oblige the user to carry out a systematic update using additional workforce resources. In the process of implementing cybersecurity stacks, it is often tempting to concentrate on some specific aspects based on the specifics of a particular project. This approach would be misguided, since the stack is a whole set of tools that allow you to take control of the entire spectrum of threats while also, of course, putting emphasis on the key points of vulnerability.

Conclusion

Choosing the best security stack will bring you a number of advantages, including stable baseline performance of the project and software, labor-saving in regard to developers, optimization of software support costs, and the implementation of a high-quality security “umbrella” capable of withstanding intense cyberattacks of varying types.

The idea behind ​​the secure stack model is not to try to completely isolate the network from threats but to build a system that can effectively repel attacks and, in the case of a successful attack, minimize losses. Using a holistic approach to security, you will be able to create a complete “armor” that will act in several directions and at different levels, ensuring the full functioning of the project.

In particular, we recommend that you look at what the services offered by PixelPlex can do for you. Being a reliable and experienced partner, we can help you develop the most secure application, taking into account all the necessary peculiarities.

If your application is to resist threats, you will need to take the right initial steps. With this in mind, a reliable vendor can provide recommendations, choose the most effective stack, and select a winning strategy.

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author

Darya Yatchenko

Lead Copywriter

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