The Advantages Of Runtime Application Self-Protection

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Global cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly amorphous, with hackers finding new ways to exploit established systems, infiltrate applications, and exploit vulnerabilities.

One manifestation of these advances in hacking strategy is a sharp increase in the number of zero-day exploits that businesses have encountered in recent years. In 2023, 23% of businesses expected zero-day vulnerabilities to represent a major threat.

To combat the potential security breaches that zero-day attacks cause, businesses turn to strategies like Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP). Located within an application, RASP provides in-app cybersecurity protection. 

Its presence within an application itself rather than on the outer layer enables it to offer a high degree of protection and insight into an application.

Let’s explore what RASP technology is and why it’s so effective at enhancing application security. 

What is RASP?

Runtime Application Self-Protection is a form of modern cybersecurity defense that works from within an application’s runtime environment.

What is RASP?

With direct insight into the current status of an application, RASP is able to detect vulnerabilities in its performance, monitor changes in the application output, and identify anomalies in its behavior.

By existing within an application, the additional context of the app’s current runtime events and performance allows RASP to detect tiny changes to its status.

This advanced contextual understanding ensures that RASP can even identify zero-day vulnerabilities and mitigate attempts that bad actors make to exploit them.

On the operational front, RASP uses a range of sensors that embed directly into an application’s code.

These monitor changes to an application’s activities, providing a comprehensive insight into an application’s functioning at any given moment.

If data interacts in the system in an unexpected way, then these sensors convey that information to RASP, allowing it to take defensive actions.

RASP’s complete access to an application’s code also allows it to prevent changes to that code. 

If malware enters the application and attempts to execute changes, RASP will locate the attempt and neutralize it, preventing any code changes and alerting security teams so they can take more decisive action.

Why your AppSec needs RASP

When assessing traditional cybersecurity infrastructure, there is a stark divide between services that monitor incoming traffic and those that work with internal application data.

For example, a web application firewall sits on the application layer to monitor traffic and prevent potentially malicious connections from accessing a network.

A RASP sits on the other side of this divide, monitoring traffic within your application to encounter anomalies, identify threats, and neutralize them. 

The location of RASP in your application and its insight into the app’s processes enable it to enhance your application security in several ways:

Catch-all protection

While a company can rely on its other cybersecurity tools to prevent the vast majority of malicious traffic from entering an application, nothing is infallible.

Catch-all protection

Even the most advanced security software in the world will make errors or let something slip through the gaps from time to time.

RASP acts as an additional layer of security, monitoring the application itself to determine whether anything has managed to make it through your outer defenses.

Zero-day protection 

Zero-day attacks are malicious actions that make use of exploits that have not previously been discovered by the developers of the software itself.

These attacks have the potential to cause major problems for companies, as they could face a data breach through a strategy that they never considered.

By consistently monitoring and searching for anomalous activity in an application, RASP can identify even zero-day attacks and put a stop to them.

Advanced contextual understanding

When RASP detects a potential risk in your application, it has all the other contexts of the application to deliver a more insightful investigation.

As it has the runtime context and a knowledge of the application structure, it can pinpoint not only that a security event is occurring, but also what the consequences will be for the application. 

Streamlined maintenance

Other common pillars of cybersecurity defense infrastructure need a high degree of maintenance.

A WAF that uses a blacklist, for example, would need regular updates with new blocked sites, added known risks, and traffic to block.

Streamlined maintenance

RASP does not need administrative rules, instead working off the constantly changing context of the application it runs within. 

This ease of use makes it simple to maintain, reducing the administrative load that security professionals have to deal with.

By focusing on a single application, RASP provides a high degree of context, precision, and flexibility that all combine to make it a powerful solution. 

Enhancing your application security

As the cybersecurity threat rises, businesses continually search for new ways of keeping their applications, data, and networks safe from attacks.

RASP solutions represent a modern addition to the standard cybersecurity posture, providing an additional layer that helps to identify zero-day attacks and monitor potential threats that have slipped through cracks in WAF and WAAP solutions.

With in-app sensors, comprehensive insight into typical application runtime processing, and an established understanding of how an app should interact with and produce data, RASP is an advanced aspect of application security.

With real-time monitoring, advanced contextual insight, and easy integration into applications, RASP empowers cybersecurity teams to build effective security directly into their apps. 

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