Application Security Posture Management: A Guide
Today’s applications have grown complex, and portfolios have expanded rapidly. Security teams are responsible for identifying and remediating application security risks, but many applications may have been created without their oversight or knowledge.
To make matters worse, siloed data sources make visibility and control incredibly difficult, but a relatively new approach — application security posture management (ASPM) — has emerged to help ameliorate this.
ASPM is a class of tools that manage application risk across the continuous development and deployment pipeline by unlocking application security visibility through the collection, analysis, and prioritization of security issues.
The tools work by ingesting data from multiple sources, correlating and analyzing findings for easier interpretation, and conducting triage and remediation, according to Gartner. They enable security policies to be enforced and facilitate the remediation of security issues’ while offering a comprehensive view of risk across an application — thus enabling teams to better measure and manage risk.
ASPM evolved from and replaces application security orchestration and correlation, adding extensive coverage and additional features, the firm notes.
Security teams typically discover ASPM as a result of security incidents or audits that reveal risks or vulnerabilities, or they just realize that they have a limited understanding of what applications are deployed and their respective security postures in their environment.
The Business Drivers For ASPM
Too often, DevSecOps teams are inundated with data from multiple tools. “Consolidating information, evaluating its validity, and prioritizing remediation is a cumbersome process that doesn’t scale to address the amount of data and the speed of engineering processes,” Gartner observes. “Ensuring that security concerns are addressed becomes more time-consuming and error-prone, which fuels the perception that security is a barrier, not a benefit. ASPM can help validate warnings, ensuring that teams focus on tasks offering the greatest risk reduction.”
Without meaningful business metrics and threat intelligence, security and engineering teams find it challenging to glean information about the risk postures of applications. ASPM tools can aid in translating raw vulnerability data into a more relevant form for application owners and other stakeholders.
Simply put, ASPM enables application-centric security. Organizations can implement DevSecOps policies and processes in their software development life cycles because ASPM supports integration and interoperability between application security and the DevOps environment. The ability to prioritize and triage lets security teams focus on the most critical issues while assessing risk in terms that are meaningful to all stakeholders.
The Benefits Of ASPM
Security and software engineering teams will find ASPM useful because it aids in:
- Integrating and orchestrating application security tools and controls.
- Improving visibility and control.
- Enabling the measurement and management of risk.
“Triage of application security data (including test findings and monitoring) brings increased productivity by prioritizing resources to focus on the most critical issues,” Gartner says in an ASPM research brief. “ASPM delivers clarity and improved insights — both from an operational and risk-oriented view — into application security status.”
How ASPM Works
ASPM tools automate and orchestrate application security processes in an organization’s environment, which provides ongoing visibility into potential security risks.
A range of different components and capabilities are integrated into an ASPM offering. These will vary, depending on the project and organizational needs and generally include:
- Application Inventory: Assets are generally scattered across on-premise and cloud-based platforms, including apps, third-party libraries, network connections, infrastructure, and data. ASPM tools automatically identify and inventory an organization’s applications.
- Detection of application security misconfigurations.
- Policy management to apply various security and compliance policies across the ecosystem.
- Composability to integrate new security tools into the system in a relatively seamless way.
- Real-time monitoring to eliminate bottlenecks.
- Reporting views based on different security policies depending on different systems.
- Prioritization and remediation based on risk level.
- Application security testing: Developers and security teams can choose from a wide range of application security test offerings, including static application security testing, dynamic application security testing, software composition analysis, and vulnerability scanners.
- Analysis of dependencies: Besides identifying an organization’s applications, ASPM tools can also map their dependencies and data flows. This enables the tools to map the structure and functionality of a corporate application portfolio.
Some Final Thoughts On The Why Of ASPM
Organizations with diverse development and deployment processes may tend to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when establishing automated controls for policy enforcement. ASPM’s integration and intermediation capabilities allow for centralization of security control management and more granular enforcement approaches.
Most organizations continually seek to improve their security posture management, yet the majority of cybersecurity tools are designed to identify and alert them to a specific type of malicious activity. Organizations should look for tools that provide a 360-degree holistic view of their entire asset inventories and the security risks and vulnerabilities.
ASPM enables DevSecOps teams to see and secure their actual application security posture in production so that the most critical risks get fixed even while engineering teams continuously deliver code.