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What Is Application Security Posture Management (ASPM): A Comprehensive Guide

Get details on what ASPM is, the problems it solves, and what to look for.  

Software development is evolving, and application security must evolve along with it. Traditional application security solutions are not keeping up with the way developers work today, or the way attackers do. A new approach to application security is needed, and ASPM plays a critical role in that approach.


What is ASPM?   

Application Security Posture Management or ASPM gives security teams a clear view of the full software factory, its assets, its owners, its security controls, its vulnerabilities, and how all are related.  

With this view, security teams can ensure the integrity, governance, and compliance of every software release.  

Gartner defines ASPM as a solution that “analyzes security signals across software development, deployment and operation to improve visibility, better manage vulnerabilities and enforce controls.”* 

Application security posture management provides visibility, prioritization, and alignment among internal teams to more efficiently and effectively secure software, and prove it.  


What problem does ASPM solve?   

Changes in development processes and attacker tactics are creating significant challenges for modern security teams. ASPM is uniquely suited to address these challenges.

The security challenges of modern software development

Developers are now more self-sufficient and capable than ever before. They can build not only their own apps, but also local test environments that look identical to production environments and pipelines for continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD). With the advent of containers, Kubernetes, and cloud architecture, they can quickly test, iterate, build, destroy and rebuild, all in a matter of minutes. If they have a question about building or fixing code, AI will instantly give them complete snippets of code, troubleshoot why code isn’t working, or even give them real-time suggestions while they code.

Add to this that development organizations today can be huge, with thousands of developers, and grow exponentially almost overnight due to M&A activity — and you’ve got a dev environment that is more fast-moving and fluid than anything we’ve ever seen before.

While fostering an unprecedented level of innovation, this software development revolution has also greatly expanded application attack surfaces.

In this environment, security teams struggle with:

Visibility: Lack of visibility into the full software factory, from assets to pathways and pipelines.

Beyond increasing risk, lack of visibility into the attack surface also creates compliance challenges. Security teams are struggling to comply with regulations requiring evidence of asset inventories and security controls.

Correlation: Lack of correlation among types of risk – such as cloud, app, supply chain – across the SDLC, leading to increased manual efforts

For instance, if a vulnerability is identified in a cloud environment, it can take hours for the cloud security team to work with the application security and development teams to locate the code creating the vulnerability.

Complexity: Complexity leading to misconfigurations and the exposure of secrets in development pipelines

The complexity of the modern software factory opens up new avenues for risk misconfigurations, such as of build systems, and exposure of secrets, such as API keys and cloud credentials.

The security challenges of modern attacker tactics

To take advantage of the vulnerabilities created by modern software development environments, sophisticated attackers have expanded their focus beyond front-end applications.

Now, attackers also increasingly target software supply chain factory components (pipelines, build servers, libraries, tools, and processes).

Attacks like these have led to massive global breaches, such as those at 3CX, SolarWinds, Codecov, and CyberLink.

What are the benefits of ASPM? 

ASPM offers one platform that corrals the application security chaos, scales as development organizations grow and change, and offers a clear view of the full software factory, its assets, its owners, its security controls, its vulnerabilities, and how all are related.

ASPM helps teams:

  • Mitigate high-priority security vulnerabilities to intelligently reduce risk.
  • Uncover shadow IT, systems, and source code.
  • Measure the blast radius of vulnerabilities—the potential impact of a security breach within a system.
  • Provide guardrails that allow developers to move fast without security controls slowing them down.
  • Streamline regulation compliance by proving where controls are deployed.
  • Evaluate application business criticality.
  • Provide a common language
    for executives, developers, and security teams to understand risks.
  • Show progress in reducing risks.

ASPM vs. code scanners

Static analysis (SAST), dynamic analysis (DAST), and software composition analysis (SCA) scan source code for vulnerabilities in different phases of code development.  

Solely scanning source code for application security falls short because its focus is too narrow, it lacks context, and it produces a variety of results without correlation.  

In addition, source code scanners only look at application risk and largely ignore the risk found in the software factory, like weaknesses in the CI/CD pipeline. This focus leads to blind spots in the area that’s currently causing and producing the most devastating attacks seen in the wild. 


Application Security Orchestration and Correlation or ASOC is a solution that helps facilitate vulnerability testing and remediation. These solutions correlate scan data from various sources, including SAST, DAST, IAST and SCA tools, helping with prioritization and de-duplication of results.  

ASPM is a more comprehensive security solution. While ASOC is focused on vulnerabilities in pre-production code, ASPM encompasses the entire software factory, from code to pipelines, pathways, and assets. 


Cloud-Native Application Protection Platform or CNAPP is a security solution focused on the security of cloud environments. These solutions aim to monitor, detect, and remediate cloud security threats and vulnerabilities. CNAPP is solely focused on runtime protection, while ASPM is centered on application security across the SDLC.  

What should you consider in an ASPM solution?

ASPM is a relatively new category, and different offerings will have different strengths and weaknesses. When evaluating solutions, consider:

  • Types of visibility offered
  • Scalability
  • AI discovery
  • Deployment flexibility
  • Secrets detection
  • Compliance attestation and reporting

Types of Visibility Offered  

Enterprises today have large, dynamic development teams, and securing the SDLC requires views into the environment that allow prioritization and comparison.  

Look for ASPM solutions that offer a real-time, continuous view of both the dev environment and security – and the context across both of these areas that makes it possible to prioritize based on business risk.  

In addition, the ability to see product- and team-level views vs. a single, aggregated view of all data is important, especially for complex dev teams with varying tools and processes. With this view, teams can, for example, see data related to a specific dev team and compare it to others. 


Development organizations today can be huge, with thousands of developers, and grow exponentially almost overnight due to M&A activity — leading to dev environments that are more fast-moving and fluid than anything we’ve ever seen before.  

Look for enterprise-class ASPM solutions with the ability to support very large, distributed development organizations.   

AI Discovery  

Generative AI gives developers an easier way to produce code at scale. However, it also generates code with vulnerabilities, just like code created by developers, and could include code licensed by another organization.  

Look for an ASPM solution that has the ability to understand when and where developers are using AI code assistants, plus identify GenAI code within their business, and risky AI models.  

Deployment Flexibility  

Deployment options are an important consideration when evaluating ASPM solutions. Look for the ability to deploy as a SaaS solution, in a private cloud, on prem, or hybrid. 

Secrets Detection  

Secrets exposure has become a significant and growing software security issue. Modern apps require hundreds of secrets to function (API keys, third parties, cloud credentials, etc.). At the same time, developers are pushed to innovate and develop code as fast as possible, frequently leading to shortcuts intended to drive efficiency and speed. One of those shortcuts is using secrets in development to accelerate testing and QA.   

Look for best-in-class secrets detection in an ASPM solution, with remediation, prevention, and low false positives.  

Compliance Attestation and Reporting  

Streamlining compliance with cybersecurity regulations is a key capability of an ASPM solution. From SBOMsto attestation, ASPM solutions should take the manual work out of demonstrating the security controls in place across the SDLC. 

Look for an ASPM solution that will evaluate your security posture in the context of a wide range of regulations and security frameworks, such as SLSA, NIST SSDF, PCI DSS, FedRAMP, and CISA Attestation. The solution should also deliver verification and evidence to support compliance audit requirements, and attestation mandates. 

Learn more

Learn more about the problems ASPM addresses in our new guide.

Learn more about Legit Security’s ASPM platform.



*Gartner® Report: Innovation Insight For Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) 


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Published on
June 28, 2024

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