4 Key Benefits of Application Security Orchestration

Can Taylan Bilgin30 Sep 2020

In the modern software development life cycle, there is a variety of security tools used in different phases of development pipelines.

While SAST and SCA are more heavily used in the coding phase, as we approach the production phase DAST, IAST, Container Security or In-App Protection tools also come into play to provide end-to-end security in the pipeline.

On top of these tools, organizations also rely on other sources like manual penetration testing or bug bounty programs to detect vulnerabilities that are harder to find as they are mostly business logic related.

Application security orchestration and correlation platforms have emerged to combine vulnerabilities coming from all these different sources in an automated fashion and provide a unified view to their users.

The key benefits of ASOC platforms can be divided into 4 categories ;

1) Continuous and automated scanning in DevOps pipelines

Instead of manually scanning projects at random intervals, ASOC platforms provide a single interface to schedule automated scans on all of the security tools used in the organization.

Security engineers can centrally set the frequency of each scan on each security tool or simply define the action (i.e. pull requests, merge attempts, etc.) in the pipeline which will trigger a scan.

Having some open source scanners embedded on the platform, ASOC platforms also offer a cost-free way to test the waters of AppSec for companies that have not yet invested in commercial security tools.

Using these open source scanners, organizations can warm up to security and start scanning their applications right away.

Bringing together security, development, and DevOps teams to decide on the processes on how to react to vulnerabilities could be a good starting point to make security an integral part of DevOps pipelines.

2) Centralized vulnerability management

Time is of the essence for understaffed security teams and vulnerability management is a big part of security teams’ daily workload.

Centralizing vulnerabilities that are normally scattered across various interfaces and even reports is a time- saving capability offered by ASOC platforms.

Having a consolidated and correlated view of vulnerabilities in a single platform speed up the analysis and prioritization of vulnerabilities and lead to a shorter time between the identification of a vulnerability and the start of remediation.

By bringing together vulnerabilities from many different sources in a consolidated and correlated way and directing them to issue managers, ASOC platforms offer unparalleled visibility into the remediation status of vulnerabilities and make it much easier to track remediation speed metrics.

3) Automated AppSec processes

Let’s face it. The conversations between security and development teams are not the most friendly ones. As two teams differ in priorities, team sizes and skillsets, conflicts naturally arise. ASOC platforms come in handy to set workflows that have been mutually agreed upon by these two teams in advance.

Instead of one to one communication between security engineers and software developers, both teams can be notified when something that does not comply with the agreed-upon processes occurs.

Automatically opening issues for vulnerabilities that meet predefined criteria and sending notifications based on predefined rules, ASOC platforms act like a traffic police that keeps things flowing in order.

Automatically breaking builds in CI/CD tools if the project fails to meet the threshold entered is another cool automation capability offered by ASOC platforms to position security as a gateway to production.

4) Sustainable corporate AppSec memory

It is very common to see organizations change their security tools every now and then. What happens when a company switches to a new AppSec vendor? Normally, all historical data is lost.

It is also very common to see people change their jobs. What happens when a key (and sometimes the only) member of the security team leaves the organization? A significant amount of security knowledge is also gone with that person.

By using an ASOC platform, it is possible to prevent the loss of historical data which is crucial to see how the security posture has evolved over time.

ASOC is an up and coming field that plays ball with the broader topics of vulnerability management, DevSecOps and process automation. While digital transformation forces even the most traditional industries to develop applications, cyberattacks also increasingly target the application layers.

Due to the lack of AppSec engineers in the market, the need for orchestration and automation in AppSec is obvious to be able to keep up with the speed of software development and ASOC platforms have a lot to offer to both large enterprises and SME’s.

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