What Is Application Security Posture Management (ASPM)?
Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) is an AppSec platform that continuously assesses, manages, and enhances the security of today’s modern applications to improve the overall risk posture of an organization. ASPM provides visibility, detection, correlation, prioritization, and remediation of security vulnerabilities and defects across the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC). Code to cloud coverage is achieved by ingesting data from multiple sources – like application security testing (AST) tools, repo data, and more – then analyzing these findings to identify the most critical risks to the business. ASPM platforms act as a management and orchestration layer for security tooling, so that you can enable controls and enforce security policies. By providing consolidated application security findings on one platform, ASPM delivers a comprehensive view of security and risk across an entire organization while also facilitating the management and remediation of individual findings.
ASPM delivers a number of key functionalities, including:
- Code to Cloud Visibility: ASPM provides a complete view of your SDLC, including your code, tooling, processes, and data from operational environments such as cloud platforms, containers, and physical infrastructure. ASPM continuously monitors and identifies vulnerabilities, tool misconfigurations, and other potential weaknesses.
- Vulnerability Scanning: ASPM tools regularly scan applications for known security issues. This involves using a wide range of native and third-party testing tools, such as secrets scanning, SCA, and SAST.
- Prioritization and Risk Management: ASPM allows organizations to prioritize and manage security risks associated with their applications. This helps security teams to make informed decisions about which vulnerabilities need to be addressed first based on their potential impact on the organization.
- Remediation and Mitigation: Once vulnerabilities are identified, ASPM provides guidance on how to remediate or mitigate them. This can involve suggesting code changes, configuration adjustments, or the application of security patches.
- Compliance Reporting: ASPM solutions help organizations with compliance reporting to maintain security policies, standards, and regulations such as SSDF, SOC 2, and ISO 27001.
- Reporting and Analytics: ASPM tools generate reports and analytics that help organizations understand the security posture of their applications over time. These reports can be used to track progress, demonstrate compliance, and make informed decisions.
ASPM platforms assess and enhance the security of an organization’s applications while reducing AppSec chaos. It is essential for protecting organizations against cyber threats that target the application layer.
Why Is Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) Important?
Overall, Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) solutions help organizations proactively manage the security of their applications, reduce the attack surface, decrease MTTR, and enhance security posture. They represent the next evolution of application security and play a crucial role in modern cybersecurity. Applications are often the primary target of cyberattacks, and their security is of paramount importance to protect sensitive data and ensure business continuity.
Other key benefits of ASPM include:
- Tool Consolidation: ASPM allows you to replace existing AST tools with one complete solution. Not only does this save significant costs on licensing fees, but it frees up personnel from monitoring multiple tools so they can focus on higher value work.
- Reducing the Noise: Because ASPM consolidates and correlates alerts, it is easier to see the big picture when it comes to threats. ASPM solutions reduce alert fatigue by simplifying alerting by deduplicating and filtering violations so that you can stay business-impact driven.
- Increasing Security-Developer Collaboration: In order to innovate at the speed of DevOps, security needs to be a team sport. Security and development teams must work together to deliver secure software fast, without placing undue burden on development teams. This is what we call controlled shift left. ASPM achieves this through seamless integrations and developer workflows so that engineers can follow secure development best practices within their native environments without slowing down innovation.
Key Components of a Complete ASPM Platform
To be considered complete, an ASPM platform must include several components. It should cover pipeline security, application security, and application risk. Complete ASPMs should also provide you with native scanners, while allowing you the flexibility to use any third-party scanners. An ASPM that does not provide any native scanners or has limited coverage is considered incomplete.
Development pipelines are a significant blindspot in AppSec. Securing them is essential as it helps safeguard your applications and sensitive data. Considering the number of high profile breaches that have resulted from exposed secrets or compromised developer accounts, pipeline security should be considered a fundamental part of your application security strategy.
Pipeline security should cover the following:
- Secrets: Find and fix all secrets across the SDLC. Prevent new secrets in code with developer friendly workflows.
- CI/CD: Manage CI/CD security policies like least privilege as well as the governance of source control across all your DevOps tools.
- Code Leaks: Minimize the risk of code leakage, alert on suspicious behavior, and identify actual leaks of your proprietary code to help you contain them quickly.
For many companies, your application is the lifeblood of your organization. Protecting it is essential to your business. Organizations must ensure that they are delivering innovative and secure software to their customers. To do otherwise is to risk financial losses, reputation damage, and legal consequences.
Complete ASPM solutions should provide a range of native AppSec scanners that can replace existing legacy tooling. At a minimum, ASPM should cover the following:
- Software Composition Analysis (SCA): Modern codebases are 80-90% open source libraries, where new vulnerabilities can be publicly disclosed at any time. SCA helps you find and fix vulnerable dependencies in your open source and third-party components.
- Static Application Security Testing (SAST): Eliminating custom code vulnerabilities should be done as early in development as possible. SAST prevents problems that could make your application vulnerable to attacks.
- IaC: Given the ephemeral nature of cloud infrastructure, organizations need to prevent cloud misconfigurations and apply security standards to Kubernetes, Terraform, CloudFormation, and more.
- Container Scanning: Scan your containers for vulnerabilities or weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers. Find potential threats before they can be exploited.
For an ASPM solution to be truly effective, it must be both open and flexible. This means providing native scanners as well as allowing for third-party integrations for those organizations that want to keep their existing scanning tools.
Some organizations may not want to take on the time and effort associated with implementing a new scanner. If an organization has a scanner that has been fine-tuned to meet their needs, they shouldn’t be forced to adopt a new tool. ASPM platforms need to be able to combine data from both native scanners and third-party scanners to accommodate organizations’ needs. At the same time, ASPM solutions must provide native scanners to facilitate tool consolidation or to fill in any gaps in scanning that an organization might have.
Correlation and Orchestration
The true power of an ASPM platform is its ability to provide context for each vulnerability. By contextualizing vulnerabilities, ASPM helps organizations garner deep insights into both individual defects and overall risk posture.
Correlation and orchestration are important in eliminating false positives. They allow you to understand when multiple alerts relate to one root cause. This, in turn, minimizes alert fatigue, eliminates blindspots, and improves prioritization and remediation.
An application security tool is worthless if developers refuse to use it. ASPM solutions are no different. For an organization to realize the full value from ASPM and promote secure coding best practices, the platform must provide developer-friendly workflows. These workflows should include such things as IDE integrations, CLI, PR scanning, and integrations with issue trackers like Jira. To shift security left in a controlled manner, you need to meet developers where they live and breathe each day. Eliminating context switching is key to developer adoption.