The 7 Essential Components for ASPM (Application Security Posture Management)

Liron Biam writer profile image
By Liron Biam

Updated March 25, 2024.

the 7 essential components for aspm application security posture management

As attack vectors expand due to architectural changes, such as distributed cloud deployment,  APIs, and multiple access mechanisms, modern apps are under increasing threat. Additionally, with an ever-growing feature set, rapid release cycles, and dependency on third-party libraries, security is impacted at every application stage of the SDLC.  

Application-layer attacks have spiked by as much as 80% in 2023. Software vulnerabilities can enable bad actors to steal data, damage brand reputation, or even harm your end-users. As they get smarter and more sophisticated, so should your security posture. 

A standardized approach is required to establish consistent and comprehensive benchmarks to assess application security at an enterprise level. As the underlying concept governing this standardization, Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) may well solve critical application security problems. 

What is ASPM (Application Security Posture Management)?

ASPM is a framework for proactive assessment of an application’s security status. It encompasses AppSec processes to identify, prioritize, and remediate application security risks throughout the SDLC.

It operates at the application layer, overseeing applications in both on-premises and cloud-based environments to detect and address potential security risks. These solutions focus on applications in all environments from pre-production to production and complement the application testing tools throughout the CI/CD pipelines.

a diagram of the application security procedure

The traditional AppSec approach was a good option for software deployed on standalone computers.

However, in this age of cloud-hosted software, this new approach can consolidate vulnerabilities across many different servers , which makes it far easier to prioritize risk across your system.

Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) can further enhance this layer by ensuring security at the cloud infrastructure level (the underlying substratum that hosts the application). The AppSec, ASPM, and CSPM form a three-layer security shield with critical differences.

FocusPoint-in-time testing of applications for static and dynamic analysis to surface software vulnerabilities.Continuous app vulnerability and security monitoring throughout the application lifecycle.Continuous security monitoring of the underlying cloud infrastructure and configurations.
ScopeApplication source code and pre-production environments.All pre-production and production instances of the running application.All cloud infrastructure components.
Use CaseAppSec use cases are limited to static and dynamic testing of applications as a preventive measure for mitigating security issues. Covers a broader scope of security monitoring through continuous monitoring and triaging for proactive vulnerability management. CSPM extends the ASPM use cases to include cloud workload configurations, IAM, and data encryption for end-to-end security observability.
CollaborationLimited to development and testing teams on or before feature integration. Continuous collaboration between development, operations, and security teams.Extends the ASPM collaboration model by including IT and site reliability teams.

Why ASPM (Application Security Posture Management), and why now?

Traditionally, testing teams were responsible for finding, fixing, and preventing security vulnerabilities at the application level. However, this approach isn’t sufficient to address the continuous flow of newer vulnerabilities leading to unprecedentedly harmful attacks.

Malicious code attacks like SQL injections (SQLi), Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), and Remote Code Execution (RCE) are increasingly challenging to protect against, mainly due to the sheer volume and diversity of applications. 

With traditional AppSec tools, these attacks can be simulated during testing as part of the SDLC process to secure the code and configuration for every release. ASPM provides another layer of intelligence, context, and measurement around vulnerabilities surfaced by AppSec tools, so that vulnerabilities can be effectively monitored, prioritized, and mitigated.

By continuously monitoring threats and prioritizing vulnerabilities based on their risk, Application Security Posture Management plays a critical role in delivering secure software. It can enhance an organization's security posture across all application and cloud-based environments, leading to improved communication, team collaboration, and proactive risk mitigation processes.

7 Essentials Every ASPM (Application Security Posture Management) Must Have

1. Asset discovery and inventory management

Asset discovery is the first stage – you can’t secure what you don’t know exists. It is crucial to establish a foundational knowledge base about the application’s ecosystem to build a catalog of every element contributing to its functionality. Asset discovery should be conducted regularly to reinforce the consistency of the application’s security posture.

This discovery stage aims to create a detailed inventory of the application's assets, components, and dependencies. This inventory mainly comprises hardware, software, network elements, third-party platforms, and libraries. It also includes detailed documentation about configurations, runtime and network parameters, versioning, and other relevant information about the tech stack of the application.  

2. Risk assessment and prioritization

Risk assessment and prioritization enables you to proactively identify, assess, and manage application security risks and prioritize vulnerabilities based on their potential impact on the organization. 

ASPM can assess code and configuration risks at various levels to ensure that applications adhere to internal coding guidelines and additional security hardening provisions to meet external regulatory requirements. 

By integrating with AppSec tools, these solutions can prioritize vulnerabilities – some can determine whether a security issue is actually exploitable in production, so developers can focus on the highest impact findings.

3. Integration with existing application security processes

The scope of ASPM starts at the application's development phase. It works with multiple AppSec tools focused on different development-related security checks to provide a bird’s eye vulnerability management dashboard.

In this way, it facilitates the seamless integration of security into traditional application security processes, enabling organizations to identify, assess, and mitigate security vulnerabilities and manage risk more effectively. This integration helps in breaking through technology and organizational silos, unifying security findings in an enhanced DevOps process known as DevSecOps.

Jit’s developer-friendly DevSecOps orchestration platform can integrate a host of DAST and SAST tools for performing application security checks and audits across multiple programming languages. You can manage all these tools within the same interface and get real-time, detailed findings if any security issue is detected.  

a screenshot of a computer screen with a black background

4. Real-time monitoring and alerts

To monitor proactively and identify vulnerabilities, tool misconfigurations, and other potential weaknesses, ASPM must provide real-time alerts to the relevant teams when security issues are discovered.

Beyond just displaying alerts, these tools should conduct a consolidation, de-duplication, correlation, and risk assessment of alerts to convert noise into actionable insights.

Therefore, real-time monitoring and alerts are critical, as they enable organizations to detect and respond to security threats promptly, reducing the vulnerability lifespan and safeguarding the organization from prolonged exposure and detrimental impacts.

Jit’s real-time monitoring capabilities include tracking the application at runtime based on the deployment triggers to capture any vulnerabilities and insecure access paths. This feature ensures that the team has complete visibility of the security posture of the latest application release.

5. Access management

Access management focuses on monitoring and controlling user access to the application. This access is enforced via Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) policies. Application Security posture Management tools monitor these policy configurations to ensure all users have appropriate privileges based on their roles and responsibilities while preventing unauthorized access.

The scope of access management also extends to SSO and federated identity systems, which provide identity management services. Integrating these systems with ASPM opens up possibilities for deploying adaptive access management.

This security approach monitors certain contextual information to dynamically adjust access permissions across all access mechanisms in the application deployment. Some examples of this contextual information include user location, time of access, historical access patterns, and network characteristics. 

a circular diagram with the words access management on it

6. Reporting and Dashboarding

ASPM is all about a single source of truth about the application’s security status. An extensive reporting and dashboarding module helps organizations visualize and analyze the security posture of their applications at a central level.

These platforms should offer detailed reports on security incidents, vulnerabilities (including remediation action), risk assessment, security coverage for various assets, application testing, and security metrics, allowing security teams to get an overview of the current state of application security.

Common security metrics to monitor include:

  • Count of vulnerabilities across code and dependencies;
  • List of misconfigurations, policy, and access violations;
  • Objective risk scores, like the security posture rating, which are based on the overall security compliance level of individual assets of the application.   

7. Compliance Monitoring

Compliance monitoring ensures that applications adhere to relevant security standards, regulations, and external policies. This is imperative in many industries and jurisdictions with specific rules and compliance standards that organizations must adhere to.

Application Security Posture Management facilitates compliance monitoring through a built-in security decision support system that:

  • Manages incident response planning, including devising custom incident response workflows and providing insights into historical incidents and attack patterns.
  • Automates technology stack assessment to ease the strategic decisions about selecting the right third-party tech components, such as frameworks, libraries, and platforms,  based on their security performance.
  • Governs a system of continuous learning and improvement of security processes, including implementing new security standards and process adjustments.       

It's time to fortify your Application Security

ASPM platforms lay the foundation for a resilient and adaptive security framework essential in today’s interconnected world. They harmonize incident response, streamline compliance, and bolster a proactive defense against myriad cybersecurity risks to fortify applications against an ever-shifting threat landscape.

As cybersecurity matters precede standard application functionality, embedding ASPM within the application's development phase becomes imperative. Jit offers a complete DevSecOps toolchain that can be customized to include any number of application security checklists across the coding, testing, and deployment phases of the application. Learn more here.