End-to-end application security programs are no longer optional but imperative. With security vulnerabilities skyrocketing and the growing sophistication of cyberattacks, organizations face the daunting challenge of figuring out which vulnerabilities pose the most risk to their business.
To address this pressing need, the Application Security Orchestration and Correlation (ASOC) concept has emerged as an approach to consolidating the nightmare of alert fatigue produced by “shift left.”
Define: Application Security Orchestration and Correlation (ASOC)
ASOC represents a category of application security that focuses on integrating and coordinating various security testing tools, attempting to enable security teams to gain consistent visibility into the security posture of their applications throughout the software development life cycle.
By leveraging ASOC, organizations attempt to establish a single source of truth for their security program to improve communication between security engineers, development teams, and other stakeholders.
A Brief History of ASOC and Where it Stands Today
As apps have become more complex, there has been an influx of application security testing tools. Unfortunately, these tools create too much information for teams to understand and act on.
ASOC evolved in response to security teams struggling to understand and correlate the abundance of data and signals. But before ASOC, Gartner introduced Application Vulnerability Correlation (AVC) in 2016. In 2019, Gartner merged AVC and ASTO into a single product segment, ASOC.
In May 2023, Gartner formally recognized Application Security Posture Management (ASPM) as the next generation of tools to help security teams comprehend and prioritize application security signals.
ASPM tools have evolved over approximately a decade, and until recently were known as “application security orchestration and correlation” (ASOC). Originally, tools focused on specific domains (e.g., application development) and functions (such as correlation of test results from different tools). Over the last two years, a large number of new commercial offerings have emerged in the market, offering a broader scope of functionality.
Gartner’s Innovation Insight for ASPM, May 2023
While ASPM is the latest technology segment, AVC, ASTO, and ASOC products are still widely available. Some notable ASOC tools include:
- AppSec Phoenix
- Armorcode (although they have some ASPM capabilities)
- Code Dx by Synopsys
- Enso Security (although they have some ASPM capabilities)
How ASOC Works
ASOC integrates with different security testing tools, such as SAST, DAST, and SCA, and orchestrates their collective findings to a comprehensive view.
By consolidating the results, security teams attempt to eliminate duplication and make vulnerability testing more efficient. ASOC also attempts to unify security policy creation and enforcement across the entire development lifecycle.
Benefits of ASOC
Security teams ultimately want visibility into what is now called the “software supply chain” (aka securing the entire software development ecosystem). But the current toolsets have issues with providing too many alerts and a high percentage of false positives.
Alert fatigue and false positives can quickly inundate even the most skilled and dedicated security professionals.
Remediation is the end goal. So, when security teams have an overwhelming number of critical issues, their capacity to effectively prioritize and remediate them is compromised. ASOC provides an orchestration layer that helps manage and remediate security risks through workflow automation.
Ultimately, ASOC doesn’t address the root problem. It does not help security teams understand which vulnerabilities are most dangerous and create the most risk to the business. Instead, ASOC offers an additional layer of information for security teams to consume based on inputs from other tools.
Doesn’t Improve Security or Increase Developer Productivity
The issue with a handful of pre-production security tools is the potential for high volume false positives. Importing this data and attempting to correlate risk based on flawed data causes a disillusioned view of security risk.
Analyzing and correlating testing results from multiple tools across different development projects is also technically challenging and time-consuming.
No Application Model or Context
Whether this is source code, binaries, or security tools that scan the application, you have to define your ecosystem manually. In a cloud-native and CI/CD world, configuring and maintaining ASOC tools is a full-time job for several engineers to support constantly changing applications.
No Production Visibility or Context
The majority of data and tools that ASOC integrates with are pre-prod tools like SAST, DAST, and SCA, which rely on inspecting source code in code repositories (aka branches of code). Unfortunately, this does not reflect what is actually deployed because an application can have hundreds of branches in the code repository.
Weak Risk Scoring
ASOC is only as good as the data it ingests from the tools it integrates with. So if you have >10 tools detecting vulnerabilities using the traditional CVE scoring methodology (e.g. ≥9.0 = critical), you end up with hundreds or thousands of critical vulnerabilities, even after they are correlated and prioritized.
Where ASPM Fills the ASOC Gap
We recently wrote a more in-depth blog about comparing ASOC vs ASPM, but here is a quick rundown of how ASPM fills the gap that ASOC leaves.
Visibility of applications in production
ASPM doesn’t just ingest the signals of other tools. It offers full visibility of all application services, dependencies, and dataflows.
This seemingly simple yet overlooked capability fills a huge gap in existing solutions, eliminating reliance on outdated documentation, Visio diagrams, or other ways of piecing together incomplete information from multiple sources to see an application’s architecture.
Complete visibility translates to better context. ASPM brings application architecture, configuration, environmental, and business context together to security teams. This is a critical gap that ASOC solutions lack.
By understanding which application services and data a vulnerability can reach, how those components are configured, where those services are deployed, and the overall business use, Bionic provides a context-rich risk score that helps teams prioritize what to fix first.
How Bionic Fits into the ASOC Category
Bionic takes the concepts of ASOC one step further by applying security signals and data to an application’s specific configuration, environment, and business context.
Check out this demo to learn more.