Managing application risk is challenging. Application complexity is increasing. Attack surfaces are expanding. The pace of development is accelerating. And regulatory requirements are intensifying. Overtaxed developers and security professionals struggle to juggle a multitude of development, testing, and reporting tools to deliver and maintain secure software at speed and scale.
Application Security Posture Management helps manage risk by creating clarity out of complexity.
ASPM unifies testing, ticketing, CI/CD, and other development tools to create holistic visibility into the security posture of applications, prioritize findings based on risk, and automate remediation workflows to effectively manage and improve security posture. It encompasses tools, methodologies, and best practices to identify, assess, and mitigate security vulnerabilities and manage risk.
Why is ASPM important?
ASPM emerged to address the evolving complexities of modern software applications, emerging regulatory demands, and the silos between disparate testing and development tools that create friction and risk.
Application security testing is rooted in the past when applications were monoliths comprised mostly of proprietary code and release cadences were monthly. Software development has changed significantly since then. As applications expand to encompass open-source dependencies, APIs, microservices, containers, infrastructure as code, and more, organizations need to employ a myriad of testing methodologies. Often these tools are siloed, and coordinating scans, rationalizing findings, and remediating issues quickly becomes unmanageable.
This is even more challenging as release cadences accelerate from monthly to weekly to daily and many times multiple releases a day. Layer on the challenges of rationalizing findings to generate reports, satisfy audits, and meet regulatory compliance, and the need for ASPM is evident.
ASPM offers a systematic and efficient approach to managing these complexities and ensuring security is an integral part of the development and operational processes. ASPM solves the complexity of secure software development by delivering value across five critical areas:
Five key value outcomes of Application Security Posture Management
Ultimately, these five areas help organizations understand, manage, and improve security posture to reduce risk, accelerate time to compliance and reporting, and elevate developer productivity with prioritization and streamlined remediation.
What are the critical capabilities of an ASPM solution?
ASPM encompasses features and functionalities to break through technology and organizational silos, unify security findings in a single risk-based view, and facilitate collaboration across development, security, and operations (DevSecOps). Critical capacities include:
- Aggregate Application Security Testing Findings: ASPM tools aggregate findings identified by security scans such as software flaws, vulnerable dependencies, and misconfigurations. While some scanning vendors provide ASPM capabilities to fill gaps in native scan offerings and improve accuracy through correlation, a true ASPM solution should sit at a higher level and be scan agnostic to unify findings from any tool, even as vendors change and new technologies emerge.
- Risk-Based Analysis: ASPM solutions analyze aggregated vulnerabilities to correlate findings, assess their potential impact on the organization's security posture, and prioritize vulnerabilities based on risk. Risk factors include severity, potential exploitability, and business impact. ASPM can also integrate threat intelligence feeds to help organizations stay informed about emerging threats and vulnerabilities that may affect their applications.
- Remediation and Automation: ASPM tools help security teams improve MTTR through more efficient remediation workflows, automating and orchestrating tasks like ticket creation and escalation, and Slack notifications.
- Integration with DevSecOps Pipeline: ASPM allows security checks to be automated and integrated into the software development lifecycle. This helps organizations identify and remediate vulnerabilities early in the development process when they are most cost-effective to fix and prevent critical issues from reaching production. It also involves continuous monitoring of applications to detect new vulnerabilities that may emerge over time and to ensure that security controls remain effective.
- Reporting: ASPM tools generate reports and dashboards that provide visibility into an organization's application security posture. These reports provide executive awareness and help security teams and stakeholders understand the risks associated with products, applications, and assets to make informed decisions about remediation efforts. Reporting should be real time and customizable to specific roles and business needs.
- Developer Experience and Collaboration: ASPM improves developers' experience by keeping them in established workflows and tooling through bi-directional integrations with ticketing and messaging systems and up-leveling security knowledge through targeted training and knowledge bases.
- Compliance Monitoring and Reporting: ASPM tools help organizations provide security assurance and prove compliance with relevant security standards, regulations, and best practices. This includes providing auditable paper trails to prove compliance with frameworks like OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) and industry-specific standards like PCI and HIPAA.
- Tool Rationalization: ASPM helps organizations see the level of tooling adoption, coverage, and overlap across the software development ecosystem to identify gaps, eliminate redundancies, and optimize tooling.
How does ASPM compare with other security categories?
ASPM vs AST
Unlike Application Security Testing (AST) tools that scan applications to identify security issues, ASPM does not scan code to find vulnerabilities. Application Security Testing encompasses many scanning techniques like Static Analysis (SAST), Software Composition Analysis (SCA), Dynamic Analysis (DAST), Container Scanning, Infrastructure as Code scanning, and more. Often these various scan results are disconnected and produce large quantities of findings including false positives, duplicates, and findings that do not pose real risk.
ASPM addresses the limitations of AppSec testing by aggregating findings across scanning methodologies and holistically analyzing findings to distill the massive quantity of findings into the most critical. This makes it possible for developers to focus their remediation time on true positives with the biggest impact on risk and provides security teams visibility and controls to enforce security policies.
ASPM vs. CSPM
The differences between ASPM and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) go beyond the obvious of managing risk at the application versus cloud infrastructure level. One way to think about the difference is to think of ASPM as providing visibility by aggregating findings and CSPM as providing observability to natively detect issues. ASPM creates visibility across findings identified by AST tools to provide risk-based prioritization and manage the security posture of applications from design to development and production. CSPM observes the cloud infrastructure to natively detect and mitigate misconfigurations and risks in the cloud infrastructure.
ASPM vs ASOC
ASPM and application security orchestration and correlation (ASOC) are complementary solutions with ASPM being inclusive of ASOC. ASOC solutions coordinate – or orchestrate – application security testing processes and consolidate scan results to correlate findings and prioritize remediation. ASPM takes the orchestration and correlation elements of ASOC and layers on DevSecOps practices, emphasizing visibility to facilitate a risk-based approach to application security. In many ways, ASPM can be seen as the evolution of ASOC.
ASPM vs CNAPP
ASPM and Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) are both key solutions to secure cloud-native applications - especially as infrastructure as code (IaC) and containers expand the scope of coverage under the application layer. However, where ASPM focuses on visibility across the application layer (including container and IaC configuration files), CNAPP focuses on runtime observability and protection of the cloud ecosystem in which those applications run. CNAPP integrates CSPM, cloud workload protection (CWPP) and cloud infrastructure entitlement management (CIEM) to provide runtime protection and vulnerability scanning of containers, enforce Kubernetes and network policies, secure serverless functions, and integrate with cloud deployment and orchestration tools. Where CNAPP provides runtime protection of cloud-native applications in production, ASPM prevents risk introduction and improves security posture throughout the software development lifecycle. ASPM also brings a much heavier focus on application security, unifying it with the cloud security CNAPP covers, as well as bringing on-premises infrastructure security into view.
What should you consider when evaluating an ASPM solution?
Here are some key questions to consider when evaluating an ASPM solution:
1. Does it integrate with the tools I use today? Does it integrate with the tools I will need tomorrow? Does it cover applications brought into my portfolio through mergers and acquisitions?
As a unifying layer, it is critical that your ASPM solution integrates with a breadth of scanners, ticketing systems, and CI/CD tools and is tool agnostic. This is important both for comprehensive visibility into security posture today and for ensuring flexibility as your security program matures and evolves. Some legacy AppSec scanning vendors acquire ASPM solutions to fill gaps and provide visibility across the disjointed tools within their ecosystem. Suppose you want to switch vendors or use a competing best-in-class testing solution (especially as new technologies emerge with new scanning needs). In that case, non-native tools are often not supported or at best deprioritized. Likewise, if you acquire applications or have business units that use different scanning tools, you would need to migrate to the vendor’s scanning solution first. A dedicated ASPM solution that is tool agnostic allows you to select best-in-class solutions, optimize your tooling, and reduce costs while managing risk across an evolving tool and application ecosystem.
2. What is the developer experience and impact on productivity?
ASPM solutions should simplify the developer experience providing developers with a smaller volume of tickets that include multiple related findings with workflow automation and clear remediation guidance. Ensure the solution integrates with your ticketing system and CI/CD tools – ideally with two-way APIs or fully built plugins to optimize workflows. It should also provide visibility at the team and individual developer level to provide the right alerts to the right developer at the right time and in the right environment.
3. Does it cover my governance and reporting needs?
Compliance reporting is a crucial feature of an ASPM solution. Given the various industry regulations concerning application security, an ASPM solution should generate reports that can be used for audit purposes. Here again, the breadth of integrations and the flexibility of a dedicated ASPM solution make it easy to manage security posture and provide governance across business units that may have different tooling.
What are some common ASPM use cases?
ASPM for DevSecOps Automation: DevSecOps enables faster releases of more secure software with greater ROI across the application lifecycle. At least in theory. In practice, false positives and manual tasks (like sifting through findings to manually triage, assign, and track tickets) create friction that slows software delivery, delays responses, and leads to critical issues reaching production. ASPM improves collaboration across teams by creating governance and guardrails for developers in the CI/CD pipeline with automated remediation workflows that prioritize and facilitate remediation of the most critical true positives.
ASPM for Software Supply Chain Security: Gaining visibility into the software supply chain is a critical security need. ASPM helps organizations implement software supply chain security controls by managing a comprehensive software bill of materials (SBOM) to coordinate responses to newly discovered vulnerabilities in open-source dependencies and third-party software. ASPM solutions can also provide visibility into the integrity of the CI/CD pipeline and tools.
Gain visibility and manage your application risk with a dedicated ASPM solution from ArmorCode
ArmorCode delivers holistic visibility into your application security posture with industry-leading integrations and a tool-agnostic dedicated ASPM solution.
ArmorCode’s solution is singularly focused on helping you manage, measure, and mature a secure software development lifecycle no matter where your applications run or what tools you use. Enterprises of all sizes, from small security teams to Fortune 500 leaders, trust ArmorCode to scale their security effectiveness by more than 10x and maximize their ROI on existing security investments by helping them:
- Unify application security findings and create visibility across applications, infrastructure, cloud, and containers with 180+ integrations
- Prioritize findings based on correlation and adaptive risk scoring to focus on the issues that matter
- Automate security testing and remediation workflows to increase agility and collaboration between developers and security
ArmorCode’s Application Security Posture Management gives you 360-degree visibility into your application security posture to help you design, develop, deploy, and maintain secure software more effectively than ever.