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DevOps / Security

Consolidate with Application Security Posture Management 

Software vendor consolidation continues to be a hot topic in application security in large part because of these risks posed by software complexity.
Aug 22nd, 2023 7:39am by
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In our previous article, “AppSec Consolidation for Developers: Why You Should Care,” we introduced the reasons why the industry is talking about consolidation. Specifically, we looked at the ways that rapid proliferation of software solutions, including digitalization, cloud adoption and the rise of AI, have become the backbone of business and have posed significant new challenges for development teams. The increasing complexity and the sheer volume of code have made it difficult to manage and secure applications effectively.

Software vendor consolidation continues to be a hot topic in application security in large part because of these risks posed by software complexity. So this week, let’s look at how your team can tap into the benefits of consolidation, and how adopting an application security posture management (ASPM) tool can help you streamline your security efforts and mitigate software risk efficiently.

Software Complexity Increases Risk

Navigating complicated software environments not only diverts valuable resources away from key development activities but also impedes agility, making it harder for organizations to respond quickly to changing market and customer demands. On the security side, using complex tools slows down production and increases risk. When development pipelines get bogged down, development teams wind up skipping or ignoring security gates in order to meet development milestones.

A recent paper by the Enterprise Strategy Group, “Cracking the Code of DevSecOps” discovered that over 70% of enterprises are using more than 10 application security testing (AST) solutions. Security complexity is a good microcosm of the problem that software complexity poses across organizations as a whole.

More security tools lead to more tests, which translates to more results. Since results are being returned from a variety of point tools, too often, developers end up receiving duplicate results in conjunction with inefficient and non-contextual remediation guidance. This means they waste valuable time and resources trying to triage security issues before they can even hope to start fixing them.

Since the primary job of most developers is to ship software, not to ship secure software, they end up releasing software that they know is not secure or that has vulnerabilities. The effort required to manage tools, perform maintenance and integrate tools into existing environments inhibits organizations from remaining productive.

Consolidation means working with fewer tools, which lifts management strain, allowing organizations to minimize complexity in their development environment and work at the speed that business demands.

Consolidate Your Vendors and Tools

The solution to software proliferation isn’t adding more tools, it’s figuring out how to optimize the ones you already own. You can do this by doing a security audit, removing duplicate functionality across your tools, then beginning the process of improving resource efficiency by reducing the number of vendors your teams are managing.

While sourcing multiple tools from one vendor can solve part of the problem, isolated implementations can fall short of achieving the benefits that consolidation offers. Rather than force development teams to learn multiple UIs and triage issues from multiple tools, create an abstraction layer between your development team and the security tooling. An application security posture management (ASPM) solution can do this by orienting your team on one UI to not only improve efficiency but also make it easier to plug in new tools and remove unnecessary ones without causing any disruption to testing.

According to Gartner, “Application security posture management analyzes security signals across software development, deployment and operations to improve visibility, better manage vulnerabilities and enforce controls. Security leaders can use ASPM to improve application security efficacy and better manage risk.”

What to Look for When Consolidating Vendors

You’ve decided to consolidate, and now you need to think about how you want to do that. The first question you want to address is how to vet security vendors. A good place to start is to look for a vendor whose portfolio can cover all your security demands. It’s not enough for a vendor to offer one of the so-called “essential three” automated tools.

You need a vendor with the best static application security testing (SAST) tool who can also offer best-in-quality software composition analysis (SCA) and dynamic application security testing (DAST). If your vendor is lacking in any one of these, you’ll have weak links in your security chain. Since one bad link means your whole chain is weak, you’re not going to be able to secure your applications with this vendor.

You also want to look for a vendor with an open platform who can help you use the tools you already have. Consolidating doesn’t happen overnight and most organizations are already using good security tools. The trick is to get them all working in concert so you’re doing the right tests at the right time and at the right depth.

According to Synopsys Software Integrity Group marketing vice president Jim Ivers, vendor consolidation is “the equivalent of changing the tires on a moving vehicle.” To accomplish the software security version of this type of switch, you need a platform that will enable you to leverage your existing security testing tools and that offers integrations to help you accomplish that.

The last issue you need to consider is verifying the stability and longevity of any potential vendor. Consolidation means entering a long-term relationship, so does the vendor you’re considering have a history of evolving its portfolio to keep pace with rapidly evolving development techniques and threats? Accomplishing your consolidation goals depends on how you go about it. So it’s important to take the time to do it in a way that will help you build trust in your software.

Consolidation starts with eliminating tools and reducing vendors but quickly becomes about much more. Teams need a way to centralize policy, take in the results from all their security tools, prioritize and contextualize them, then provide a unified place for administration and reporting. Doing this as part of the consolidation initiative ensures you not only optimize resources, but actually improve risk posture as a result.

As software continues to revolutionize industries, managing and securing applications become increasingly complex tasks. Consolidation emerges as a strategic approach to streamling application security efforts and improving total cost of ownership.

By adopting an ASPM tool like Software Risk Manager (SRM) by Synopsys, organizations can break down silos, centralize security insights, improve collaboration and foster a proactive security culture. Consolidation not only reduces operational overheads but also empowers organizations to allocate resources effectively, leading to better decision-making and a more robust security posture.

In a rapidly evolving software landscape, consolidation becomes a key enabler for organizations seeking to manage their software risk effectively and stay ahead in the competitive market. So, embrace the philosophy of scale, not sprawl and leverage consolidation to optimize your application security practices and minimize software risk.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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