Discover key insights from the Chick-fil-A data breach and learn how to enhance your application security with OWASP ASVS for a robust AppSec culture. Stay secure!

Article content


In the age of rapid digital transformation and increasing cyber threats, application security (AppSec) has become a critical aspect of software development. A robust AppSec culture is essential for protecting sensitive data and preventing devastating data breaches. The recent Chick-fil-A data breach [1]] emphasizes the need for a strong AppSec foundation to safeguard customer information. This blog post will discuss how to build a comprehensive AppSec culture using the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) and explore how this approach could have mitigated the Chick-fil-A data breach.

Understanding the Chick-fil-A Data Breach

What Happened?

Chick-fil-A confirmed a data breach that may have given hackers access to sensitive customer information, such as membership and mobile pay numbers, QR codes, and masked payment details [1]. The breach exposed millions of customers to potential fraud and identity theft, highlighting the importance of robust AppSec practices in protecting user data.

How Did the Breach Occur?

The exact cause of the Chick-fil-A data breach remains undisclosed. However, it is likely that attackers exploited a vulnerability in the company's mobile application, infrastructure, or API, allowing them to gain unauthorized access to customer data. This underscores the need for comprehensive security measures throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to prevent similar incidents.

Preventive Measures

App data breaches can be mitigated or even prevented with a strong AppSec culture that emphasizes security from the beginning of the SDLC. By implementing the OWASP ASVS, an organization can systematically identify and address potential security risks in their applications, ensuring the protection of sensitive customer data.

Building a Robust AppSec Culture with OWASP ASVS


The OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) [2]] is a comprehensive framework that provides a basis for verifying the security of web applications. The ASVS defines various levels of security requirements, organized into different categories, which organizations can use to assess and improve their application security posture. The standard covers a wide range of security topics, including authentication, access control, data protection, and more, ensuring a holistic approach to AppSec.

Benefits of Implementing ASVS

Implementing the ASVS offers several benefits, including:

  • Enhanced security posture: The ASVS provides a structured approach to identifying and addressing security risks, leading to a more robust security posture for your applications.
  • Improved compliance: Many regulatory frameworks, such as GDPR and PCI DSS, require organizations to demonstrate a commitment to securing customer data. Implementing the ASVS can help meet these requirements and avoid potential fines or penalties.
  • Increased customer trust: A strong AppSec culture demonstrates to customers that you value their privacy and take data protection seriously, fostering trust and loyalty.
  • Reduced risk of data breaches: By proactively addressing potential vulnerabilities, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of costly and damaging data breaches.

Integrating OWASP ASVS at a Feature or Component Level

To maximize the effectiveness of the ASVS, organizations should aim to integrate the standard at a feature or component level within their applications. This involves mapping the relevant ASVS requirements to specific application components or features, ensuring that security is considered and addressed in a granular, targeted manner.

This can be achieved by breaking the application down into smaller components or features and applying the relevant ASVS requirements to each. For example, when developing an authentication system, the development team should reference the ASVS requirements related to authentication and ensure they are implemented and tested accordingly.

·      Embedding AppSec into the SDLC

To build a robust AppSec culture, organizations should strive to embed security throughout the SDLC. This means integrating security practices at every stage, from design and development to testing, deployment, and maintenance.

·      Security in Design

During the design phase, security should be considered from the outset. This involves performing a threat modeling exercise to identify potential attack vectors and incorporating secure design principles, such as the principle of least privilege and defense-in-depth, to minimize the potential attack surface.

·      Security in Development

Developers should be trained in secure coding practices and encouraged to use tools, such as static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST), to identify and remediate vulnerabilities in their code. Code reviews should also include a focus on security, with reviewers assessing the code for potential security risks.

·      Security in Testing

During the testing phase, security testing should be integrated into the overall test plan. This includes performing vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and security regression testing to ensure that security controls are effective and that new vulnerabilities have not been introduced during development.

·      Security in Deployment

When deploying the application, organizations should ensure that their infrastructure is configured securely, adhering to best practices for network and system security. Regular vulnerability assessments and patch management should be implemented to address any newly discovered vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

·      Security in Maintenance

Finally, during the maintenance phase, organizations should continue to monitor their applications for potential security issues, perform regular security assessments, and apply patches as needed. This ongoing commitment to AppSec ensures that the organization stays ahead of evolving threats and maintains a strong security posture.

How OWASP ASVS Could Have Mitigated the Chick-fil-A Data Breach

Had Chick-fil-A implemented the OWASP ASVS, the data breach might have been prevented or its impact significantly reduced. By adhering to the ASVS requirements, Chick-fil-A would have been better positioned to identify and address potential vulnerabilities in their application, infrastructure, or API.

Enhanced Authentication and Access Control

ASVS requirements related to authentication and access control would have helped Chick-fil-A ensure that only authorized users could access sensitive customer data. This could have involved implementing multifactor authentication, proper session management, and secure password storage, making it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access.

Improved Data Protection

The ASVS also outlines requirements for data protection, such as encryption and secure data handling practices. By following these requirements, Chick-fil-A could have ensured that customer data was protected both at rest and in transit, making it more difficult for attackers to access or exfiltrate sensitive information.

Next Steps for Organizations

To build a robust AppSec culture using the OWASP ASVS, organizations should consider taking the following steps:

  • Perform a Gap Analysis: Conduct a gap analysis to determine your organization's current security posture compared to the requirements outlined in the OWASP ASVS. This will help you identify areas for improvement and prioritize security initiatives.
  • Establish a Security Training Program: Develop and implement a comprehensive security training program for developers and other relevant stakeholders. This should cover secure coding practices, security design principles, and the use of security tools, such as SAST and DAST.
  • Create a Secure Development Policy: Develop a secure development policy that outlines the organization's commitment to AppSec and the expectations for developers, testers, and other stakeholders. This policy should be integrated into the organization's overall information security management system (ISMS).
  • Monitor and Review Security Practices: Regularly monitor and review the organization's security practices to ensure effectiveness and alignment with the OWASP ASVS. This may involve conducting regular security assessments, such as vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, as well as reviewing the results of security audits and evaluations.
  • Foster a Security-Minded Culture: Promote a security-minded culture within the organization by encouraging collaboration and open communication between developers, testers, and security personnel. This can be achieved through regular security meetings, workshops, and other knowledge-sharing events.


In today's digital landscape, application security is paramount. The Chick-fil-A data breach serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of inadequate AppSec practices. By implementing the OWASP ASVS and embedding security throughout the SDLC, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and protect their customers' sensitive information.

Adopting a robust AppSec culture not only helps organizations safeguard their reputation and customer relationships but also enables them to meet regulatory requirements and stay ahead of evolving threats. By taking a proactive approach to application security, organizations can ensure the long-term success and resilience of their digital assets.

As the digital world continues to evolve and cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, organizations must stay vigilant and invest in robust AppSec practices. By leveraging the OWASP ASVS as a foundation for their AppSec culture, organizations can proactively address potential vulnerabilities and build secure, resilient applications that stand the test of time.

At BD Emerson, we recognize the crucial role that a comprehensive cybersecurity and privacy strategy plays in today's business landscape. In response to the recent breach discussed in our blog post, we highlight the importance of implementing the Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) and incorporating privacy controls alongside security controls to protect your organization. Our team of experts can assist you in developing functional and technical requirements for new technology, coordinating proof-of-concepts with vendors, and evaluating the cost-benefit analysis of each solution. If your organization is seeking to enhance its cybersecurity and privacy measures, please allow us to support you by contacting us at or by reaching out to the author at

Learning from the Chick-fil-A Data Breach and Leveraging OWASP ASVS for Robust AppSec Culture

About the author



Managing Director


Drew spearheads BD Emerson's Governance, Risk, Compliance, and Security (GRC+Sec) division, where he channels his expertise into guiding clients through the labyrinth of Information Security, Risk Management, Regulatory Compliance, Data Governance, and Privacy. His stewardship is key in developing tailored programs that not only address the unique challenges faced by businesses but also foster a culture of security and compliance.

All articles