How ASPM Can Help with Software Supply Chain Security

This blog post explores the ways in which Application Security Posture Management tools (ASPM) can Help with Software Supply Chain Security.

Application security posture management (ASPM) aims to change the conversation and strategy around software supply chain security.

Application portfolios are growing significantly, which is creating headaches for security teams that are responsible for identifying and remediating vulnerabilities flagged in applications. Meanwhile, some of these applications may have been created without IT oversight or awareness, and that only compounds the stress. ASPM is designed to change that by implementing and automate software supply chain security controls in an organization’s environment to improve visibility, better manage vulnerabilities, and enforce controls.

Without meaningful business metrics and threat intelligence, security and engineering teams cannot adequately report the business and other risk postures of applications, according to Gartner. “ASPM products can assist in translating raw vulnerability data into a form more relevant to executives and application owners,’’ the firm said in a recent research brief.

Further, the technology “delivers clarity and improved insights — both from an operational and risk-oriented view — into application security status,” Gartner noted.

“Triage of application security data (including test findings and monitoring) brings increased productivity by prioritizing resources to focus on the most critical issues. ASPM delivers clarity and improved insights — both from an operational and risk-oriented view — into application security status.”

A Stronger Software Supply Chain Security Posture Through ASPM

ASPM can help organizations develop a stronger security posture by finding and prioritizing risks to the business more quickly. These can include newly discovered vulnerabilities, changes to third-party dependencies, sensitive data exposure, and application-level hardcoded secrets that were either not present or went undetected by other cybersecurity tools in development and made their way to production.

Even with other tools covering parts of the CI/CD pipeline, you only have limited application security coverage in production unless ASPM is applied. Most significantly, ASPM can contextualize threats, giving security teams insights into their potential business impact.

Additionally, manual processes, like security reviews and threat modeling, which are time-consuming and monotonous, can be automated with ASPM.

Greater Ease with Data Privacy and Compliance

Sensitive data can be exposed when updates are continuously made to cloud-native applications and microservices. This requires some engineering teams to document major changes—a manual, time-consuming task.

ASPM can alleviate this through automated discovery and mapping and it provides deep insight into how all application services and APIs manage data. ASPM is designed to report an application’s sensitive data flows even at a granular level.

An Inventory of Applications in the Cloud

Once ASPM has been used to discover and map an application for its use of things like APIs, third-party services, and libraries, a real-time searchable index should be created. Then, security teams can create a dynamic software bill of materials (SBOM).

How Security Leaders Should Proceed with ASPM

In 2023, the global average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years. This figure is not expected to decrease, given the growing complexity and sprawl of applications. According to Gartner, security leaders can improve the security of their software supply chain when they execute controls that take a holistic view of their increasingly fragmented attack surfaces and brittle identity infrastructure.

Security leaders can simplify supply chain dependencies with careful evaluation and consolidation of vendor portfolios. This also provides greater opportunities for security and risk management leaders to more effectively respond to threats across their digital ecosystem.

About the author: Esther Shein is a longtime freelance tech and business writer and editor whose work has appeared in several publications, including, TechRepublic, VentureBeat, ZDNet, TechTarget, The Boston Globe and Inc. She has also written thought leadership whitepapers, ebooks, case studies and marketing materials.

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