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Ten Characteristics That Differentiate AST and ASPM 

16 Jan 2024 8 AM
  • Published by Joseph Feiman
  • Application security testing (AST) and application security posture management (ASPM) are two complementary technologies with a common purpose to enable visibility into applications’ security posture. In this post, we analyze their relationships, commonalities, and differences.

     Application Security Testing (AST) Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) 
    1. Type of TechnologyAST is a testing/scanning technology. Examples of AST are SAST, DAST and SCAASPM is an aggregation technology, which collects test results from AST technologies.ASPM cannot exist without AST: if there are no test results provided by an AST, then there is no ASPM. Therefore, when you deliberate adoption of a technology, AST comes first
    2. Type of DataAST detects security vulnerabilities in applications   ASPM collects and aggregates security vulnerabilities detected by AST  
    3. Data-Collection Method AST conducts active direct analysis of application code, libraries and runtime environments. AST technologies actively contact the application by analyzing its code, libraries, and runtime environment. The outcome of this active direct analysis is application test results served to the clientsASPM is passive collection of data (of test results) produced by AST technologies (e.g. by SAST, DAST, SCA)
    4. Authenticity of DataFirsthand data collected by AST technologies. This data could be true positive or false positive, depending on the accuracy of a particular AST tool. Nevertheless, the data is firsthand.Data collected by AST technologies and aggregated by ASPM. Keep in mind that AST is not part of ASPM, therefore the authenticity of data aggregated by ASPM is fully dependent on AST
    5. Veracity of DataAST provides reasonably/practically high veracity data collected by AST through the direct active testing of applications. This data (i.e. test results)  could be true positive or false positive, depending on the accuracy of a particular AST tool. Nevertheless, AST is the best existing source of veracity data.ASPM aggregates data collected by AST, which AST  conducts direct analysis of application code, libraries, runtime environments. Veracity of data aggregated by ASPM is fully dependent on the veracity of AST data  
    6. Homogeneity / Heterogeneity of Data Homogeneous data, i.e. only security data·  Data from a single AST vendor Homogeneous data, i.e. in only security data· Data from multiple AST vendors It is worth mentioning that AST vendors have begun collecting some DevOps-related data in addition to security data.
    7. Comprehensive insight into application security postureAn AST tool provides test results relevant to a particular siloed aspect of application security posture. E.g. SAST – to security posture of application’s code, DAST – security of application runtime, SCA – security of open-source components. To get a broader insight into application security posture, it is necessary to run multiple AST tools, e.g. SAST and DAST and SCA. Moreover, those test results from multiple tools should aggregated: which is the exact purpose why ASPM has been createdASPM can collect and aggregate test results from a variety of AST technologies (e.g. from SAST, DAST and SCA), which, all together, address different aspects of the application security posture. Moreover, ASPM can collect and aggregate test results from different vendors’ AST tools. Thus, ASPM provides more comprehensive visibility into application security posture than individual AST tools 
    8. Correlation and ContextAST tools collect homogeneous data (i.e. only security data). There is quite limited context in it.ASPM attempts to increase correlation and contextualization. For example, ASPM tools attempt to correlate results from different AST technologies and vendors. The ultimate purpose of correlation and contextualization is to increase visibility into security posture and thus enable optimal decision-making when it comes to application security
    9. Timeliness of AssessmentAST technologies take a snapshot of an application's security posture at the moment of a test. In that sense, AST is timely, compared to ASPM. The timeliness of the AST can alert the user of the detected vulnerability earlier that ASPM could doASPM aggregates data post-factum, after the AST has been completed. ASPM takes time to collect and aggregate test results from different AST tools and normalize this data to enable a single-pane-view into application security posture. During that time, the posture could have changed. In that sense, ASPM is not as timely as AST.   
    10. Sync with DevOps LifeCycleAST can be driven by a DevOps event, e.g., upon unit-of-the-code completion or application-build completion. Such a synchronization with DevOps LifeCycle events enables right-in-time AST, so that DevOps personnel will be alerted by AST of vulnerabilities as early as possible and fixing them most easily and inexpensively.ASPM is not directly synchronized with DevOps events. ASPM cycle is driven by the update of the ASPM repository with the newest AST test result.