In Runtime application self-protection (RASP) emerged in recent years as a way to address application vulnerability issues and to add an extra layer of security to IT infrastructure. RASP is an emerging technology considered part of the Application Security Technology class.
Organizations face threats from all sorts of perpetrators interested in targeting vulnerabilities to compromise sensitive, confidential data. If a hacker can find vulnerabilities, that becomes his or her attack path – the way to information assets that are stored in a network. Runtime application self-protection will automatically defend an integrated application.
There is a trend for security teams to shift security left and address security threats and vulnerabilities during the planning stages. However, there is still a substantial amount of SDLC teams that do not address threats early enough. If a vulnerability is not remediated during the design and development stages, they may slip through the cracks to the quality assurance and production stages, raising the likelihood of a data breach. Runtime application self-protection can help DevSecOps teams to shift left and be proactive about vulnerabilities.
Over the course of SDLC, applications containing vulnerabilities tend to add up within an organization’s IT ecosystem. Depending on an organization’s risk appetite – the level of risk it is willing to accept to attain its objectives – security managers need to determine the best approach to secure against cyberattacks.
Difference Between Runtime Application Self-Protection and Firewalls
There is a key difference between RASP security technology and firewalls, which is considered a perimeter-based defense. RASP, unlike firewalls, does need contextual awareness – the ability to gather information about a given environment and respond to it accordingly – to find and block hacks. Runtime application self-protection is installed on a server and, through its integration with an application, activates whenever an application runs. RASP, therefore, allows for less reliance on firewalls with its added layer of protection.
How Does RASP Work
RASP is a diagnostic tool that acts as an intermediary between an application and a system, intercepting all calls made and ensuring they are secure. While it is in runtime, it takes action whenever it detects anomalous, bad behavior. In diagnostic mode, RASP will raise a red flag when something appears wrong. One example is when RASP detects an SQL injection. Once detected, RASP will trigger a way to stop the code from taking over.
Runtime application self-protection leverages data stored in the software to detect attacks in real-time. RASP continuously monitors the behavior of a connected application within the context of what should be occurring. If it detects some sort of bad behavior, RASP will work to mitigate threats – without human intervention.
Runtime application self-protection can monitor inputs and block insertions of malicious code. The technology can also deter any unwanted tampering or changes that can leave an IT ecosystem vulnerable to cyberattack. Programmers can add RASP in minutes as a dependency, meaning that it integrates with the functioning of an application.
Benefits of RASP Security
RASP can secure web and non-web applications. With more and more organizations migrating to mobile and the cloud, they are becoming susceptible to more attack paths. This is known as becoming a more porous attack surface. Developers who install RASP stand a better chance of defending against threats to a porous attack surface.
Runtime application self-protection is preventative and takes several measures to thwart hackers from compromising the system. RASP behaves vigilantly, taking control of the application whenever a problem occurs. In addition to detecting malicious code, RASP can:
- Abruptly end a user session
- Shut down the application or system
- Flag admins and security personnel of the anomalous event
- Send warnings to system users
Since it operates integrated with an application, RASP can protect an information system even after a hacker has infiltrated perimeter defenses, e.g. a firewall. During runtime, it comprehends an application’s configuration, logic, and data application execution flows – in and out of a component. RASP is highly accurate in its ability to distinguish between legitimate calls and malicious activity. This reduces the number of false positives and makes security teams job of mitigating real threats easier.
Runtime application self-protection will integrate with code libraries and addresses vulnerabilities at the source level. Due to this level of integration, RASP is capable of conducting deep analysis to identify application vulnerabilities.
How to Implement RASP
RASP uses function calls to interact with the application’s source code, exerting precise control over what needs to be protected within the app. Examples include logins and database queries. Programmers can put the app in a wrapper, also known as secure it in a management layer.
Downsides of Implementing RASP
There are some negatives to using RASP. For one thing, application performance may be compromised and/or slowed down, resulting in latency issues. Runtime application self-protection users must ensure that software is compatible with a technology stack or else it will not work.
RASP will not repair an already defective application. In addition, RASP will not address all vulnerabilities. Security teams may need additional defenses. All said, the upside to integrating RASP outweighs the downsides.
Utilize Threat Modeling to Define Parameters for RASP Security
Understanding your attack path will enable security teams to prioritize, mitigate and remediate threats. Threat modeling is one such way to gain an improved understanding of your attack path to blog attack vectors at the application layer. The activity of threat modeling enables you to map out your entire IT ecosystem, including servers, web, mobile and IoT embedded applications, on a process flow diagram.
Threat modeling will help security teams to determine the places where RASP can block attack vectors. Specifically, threat modeling can identify places where RASP agents can be placed in-front for protection. Threat modeling will also determine which attack vectors need to be detected at key locations, including entry points.
ThreatModeler is an automated tool that uses the Visual, Agile, Simple Threat modeling approach (VAST). ThreatModeler includes the most features that SDLC security teams require to effectively mitigate threats. It stays current with existing and new threats via content updates from reliable threat intelligence libraries, including WASP, WASC and CAPEC.
To learn more about how ThreatModeler can help security teams to reduce the likelihood of a ransomware attack, request a free evaluation of the ThreatModeler platform. You can also contact us to speak with an application threat modeling expert today.