In principle, a false positive in AppSec results from a security test that indicates the existence of a threat or vulnerability that does not exist. This can happen when a security system detects behavior or an event that appears suspicious but is legitimate or benign.
However, false positives in application security can be caused by many factors, including misconfigurations, overly restrictive settings, compatibility issues, technical limitations, and improperly defined security policies.
Likewise, it is essential for security and development teams to constantly monitor and analyze security test results to minimize the occurrence of false positives and ensure that real threats are detected and adequately addressed.
Automated analysis tools show false positives
Automated analysis tools are and should be widely used to identify vulnerabilities and threats in a system. We know these tools can help security and development teams spot issues quickly and take action to fix them before attackers can exploit them.
However, tools such as Network Scan, SAST, SCA, and DAST can have many false positives, which can be caused by many factors, including incorrect tool settings, shallow analysis, and even limitations.
Therefore, knowing the proportion of false positives is essential, as it allows for assessing the degree of reliability of each security tool. This allows a more accurate perception of their work and the acceptable margin of error in each.
Read also: Promoting a collaborative environment between Security and Development
What is the impact of neglecting this process?
Badly operated tools with poorly trained teams can bring more problems than solutions. But what are the impacts, in fact, of neglecting the verification process for these false positives?
- Waste of time and resources: Investing time and resources in correcting false positives is a waste of money/budget that could be concentrated on other more critical activities;
- Development delays: Fixing false positives can delay the development process, reducing the speed of delivery of new features and functionality;
- Frustration and demotivation: In addition, it can be frustrating and demotivating for developers and security analysts, who may feel that they are wasting their time on activities that do not add value;
- Undetected security flaws: By focusing on false positives, developers and security analysts can miss real vulnerabilities, which can result in hidden security flaws;
- Company reputation: Security flaws can affect the company’s reputation and customers’ confidence in the security of its products and services.
Checking for False Positives: The Right Process
False positives will always exist. What is needed is to verify if a positive result in a security test is a real vulnerability or just confusion. That will ensure that development and security resources are appropriately focused and that real vulnerabilities are fixed. Also, prioritization is an essential part of analyzing these cases. We already know that false positives will exist, so how do we prioritize the analysis to waste as little time as possible?
To reduce the occurrence of false positives, vulnerability analysis must be performed consistently and carefully. Establishing a clear process for checking false positives is essential in defining objective criteria for classifying identified vulnerabilities. Manual reviews are critical in this process, even to determine business logic errors – something that tools would not usually catch and miss.
I emphasize that analyzing false positives requires an ongoing process and periodic review. As new vulnerabilities are identified and new technologies are implemented, it is necessary to update the scanning process to ensure the continued effectiveness of vulnerability analysis.
How Automated Security Testing support can make this process easier:
The process of checking and tracking false positives and continuous development security can be a challenge for a team that does not yet have the maturity and experience necessary to perform these tasks effectively.
Likewise, at Conviso, we have developed an Automated Security Testing Support program that assists your team. Our team performs the review and validation of vulnerabilities found by automated analysis tools, validating false positives, identifying which discoveries are real vulnerabilities, notifying your team, and allowing interaction with our Security Experts, and all of this you monitor and manage from Conviso Platform:
In addition, for better use of the platform and available tools, our team is available to provide technical support and training to users, aiming to take full advantage of the potential of the Conviso Platform.