ASPM, or Application Security Posture Management, is a methodology and holistic approach to application security based on bottom-up and asset-first principles. It identifies which activities undertaken by the AppSec team are the most effective, so organizations can amend their strategy, optimize use of resources, and increase the coverage of the application security program. ASPM is all about enabling organizations to have a clear security baseline, allowing them to make decisions based on data and improve security across the board.
ASPM is not just another catchy acronym for AppSec teams to use in boardrooms or scare developers with; it can transform the way security teams practice and execute application security. As the first ASPM solution on the market, we at Enso believe and witness first-hand the power of this approach and its fast growing integration into the AppSec industry.
Here are 6 things you didn’t know about ASPM:
ASPM allows security teams to let go of their current defect-obsessed approach to application security. ASPM focuses on owning security and managing an AppSec program which can function, rather than obsessing over defects and finding more vulnerabilities which have no critical business importance. It places the asset as the central nutrient of your program– not the defect. ASPM allows organizations to stop playing catch up with vulnerabilities, and start owning the scope of security from the beginning.
ASPM operates at all times and in no chronological order. Unlike the SSDLC which is based on a cyclical life cycle, ASPM is not dependent on various stages of a lifecycle to be deployed– it is in constant operation. ASPM allows AppSec teams to remediate risk both pre-production and during production, enabling them to identify important incidents or data before it hits production.
A functioning AppSec program generates a common language and system of cooperation with R&D. This is a main tenant of ASPM- strong SLAs based on all stakeholders having a common and comprehensive view of the same data. Fostering a common language will allow your organization to integrate security both into the culture and code, and create a system that is secure by design. With the use of automation, ASPM allows security teams to automate tasks and workflows with R&D, and finally remove the “chasing down developers” culture from your organization. Most importantly, ASPM is about placing focus and efforts on the assets that matter to your business, allowing engineering to invest resources in vulnerabilities that are actually business-critical, rather than just noise.
An SBOM, in its simplest form, is a list of components in a piece of software. This list allows organizations to identify vulnerabilities or license risks that may impact their applications. Although an important step in the path to AppSec maturity, an SBOM merely provides information, and is hardly the full picture. In order to comprehensively manage your program, you need to add context to the information in each package– its business context, its relation to the health of yourAppSec program, which project it relates to, the implications of where it’s deployed, etc. ASPM, with its holistic approach to data, allows you to have full visibility and inventory including context, languages, frameworks and package managers, providing you with the “meaning” of your application stack.
ASPM is an approach that can be molded to fit the needs of your particular organization. While there are commonly accepted industry standards for a mature or functioning AppSec program, one size does not fit all. With ASPM, you can set your particular strategy and KPIs based on your tools, resources, and other characteristics specific to your organization and posture. ASPM allows you to set policies, KPIs and strategies from the get go. Once you are plugged in and have full visibility of the data, tools and resources, a security roadmap is almost instantaneous to implement.
ASPM allows organizations to transform the way in which they perform AppSec, which today revolves around chasing after vulnerabilities and closing gaps, using a reactionary methodology which is time consuming and frustrating for all concerned. With ASPM, organizations can own AppSec. Just as DevOps replaced system engineering, we expect ASPM to become a new industry standard for AppSec practitioners.
You are going to start hearing a lot about ASPM…
About the author
Julia Kraut is the Director of Marketing at Enso Security, the first Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) tool used daily by AppSec teams to enforce, manage and scale a robust AppSec program, all without interfering with development.