Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) has become an essential practice for effectively managing organizational risk, especially concerning IT assets and operations. However, mitigating risk in today’s landscape goes beyond traditional perimeter defenses. As we explore the diverse landscape of modern infrastructure, encompassing IoT devices, mobile phones, tablets, wireless technologies, cloud services, smartwatches, and even smart glass, smart vehicle, it becomes evident that the evolution of these devices is ceaseless. With the advent of even more innovative smart devices on the horizon, we can anticipate exciting possibilities in our daily lives. However, this progress also brings forth new security challenges that necessitate adapting our approaches to effectively mitigate risks and ensure the safety and privacy of these advanced technologies.
Every software application possesses vulnerabilities, making them attractive targets for attackers. In general, it around 40% of external attacks were aimed at exploitable web applications, while 30% targeted software vulnerabilities. This includes infrastructure, commercial, custom-built, and contracted applications, as they are easily accessible from the web and therefore more susceptible to attacks.
The attack surface is larger than previously believed, requiring security and risk teams to adopt an application security mindset when assessing their organization’s risk and compliance posture. Attack surface management (ASM) can be helpful, especially for large organizations with numerous public-facing websites. Additionally, the Application Security Orchestration and Correlation (ASOC) solution offers valuable capabilities that align with various components of a Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) framework.
It’s crucial to understand the scope of the Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) challenge when it comes to software applications. Assessing an organization’s risk footprint involves considering potential vulnerabilities in infrastructure and commercial software across hundreds of business-critical assets within their IT infrastructure. In the case of custom-built applications, the risk footprint multiplies significantly due to the volume of software that includes open source or third-party code and critical vulnerabilities that may remain unaddressed during the production process.
As a result, modern software development practices present numerous blind spots when it comes to risk and compliance. The widespread adoption of DevOps and Agile methodologies or DevSecOps has accelerated the speed of production code deployment, creating multiple opportunities for software flaws to go unnoticed.
Furthermore, integrating testing, triage, and remediation within the software development life cycle (SDLC) is complex. Many application security (AppSec) teams invest in various Application Security Testing (AST) tools to identify specific types of software flaws at different stages of the SDLC. For example, static application security testing (SAST) or software composition analysis (SCA) tools may be used to scan source code for quality, security, and compliance issues during the build phase, while dynamic application security testing (DAST) is employed to identify runtime issues in simulated production environments.
Each of these essential testing approaches can uncover thousands of potential flaws and compliance issues, storing them in separate repositories with their own taxonomies. It becomes challenging to navigate through all these findings to identify the most critical issues. To assess overall software risk effectively, it is necessary to aggregate these findings, standardize the format, and prioritize the most impactful ones. Additionally, auditing this data and ensuring adherence to required regulatory standards poses significant challenges. At this point, relying on multiple application security tools becomes costly, and the focus shifts towards Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC).
A solid Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) strategy goes beyond implementing merely Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software tools. It involves to help standardizing business processes and policies, enforcing controls, centralizing risk management, and auditing decisions and artifacts. Understanding the risk at the development level and earlier stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is crucial for maintaining resilient and compliant operations. By having a robust understanding of Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) strategy and the data it requires, organizations can save substantial resources, whether it be billions or millions. It’s not necessary to invest heavily in application security testing tools if the deployed tools can provide fundamental insights to meet Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) requirements.
Key questions to self answer include below:
- When was the software tested? (to understand the frequency and to determine whether it fit or you identify GRC gap)
- What vulnerabilities were found? (are they sort by severity and impact, have report based on our context for internal, development or production context)
- What vulnerabilities were fixed? (are they any report can confirm from previous and current and evidence provide for compliance reporting)
- How can I identify my most vulnerable software? (you need to inventory and have all the report in hand before you can know, even in the form of spreadsheet may be just fine)
- What is the extent of my exposure and exploitability? (to determine your cyber exposure risk and high risk and likelihood for exploitability, in particular those external and public access asset)
If an organization spends billions or millions on security measures but cannot answer these questions, it indicates a misallocation of resources. In such cases, considering an ASOC solution can be beneficial. An Application Security Orchestration and Correlation (ASOC) solution empowers organizations to extract actionable insights from a variety of AST tools, introducing a uniform risk assessment methodology and orchestrating testing activities without disrupting existing processes. These capabilities are foundational for aligning security, risk, and development stakeholders, ensuring software quality, compliance, and a risk-based approach to software development.
Typical ASOC can assist in several components of a Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) framework based on the user’s specific context. Here are a few examples:
- Risk management: Individual Application Security Testing (AST) tools provide assessments of software risk using their own methodologies, resulting in a fragmented view of overall software risk posture. ASOC simplifies risk assessment by correlating issues across different tool types, normalizing results to a common scoring methodology. Additionally, ASOC can export these results to a GRC management tool, enabling a consistent view of infrastructure and application risks and incorporating a more detailed understanding of application risk.
- Auditing: Advanced ASOC solutions provide application context and intelligence to help teams identify findings that violate specific compliance standards. They consolidate high-priority results, implemented controls, and overall application health into a comprehensive report. This capability enables the mapping of software defects to violations of regulatory standards, enhancing auditing practices and addressing blind spots in software security.
- Policy management: Managing security policies that reflect the unique needs of each application is a complex task. ASOC resolves this challenge by orchestrating policy-as-code, defining thresholds for triggering testing based on application criticality, code changes, and dependencies. This approach integrates seamlessly with existing development pipelines and, through API integration with ticketing systems, automates the enforcement of security policies with developers.
In today’s business landscape, software risk is business risk. A successful GRC strategy must tackle the specific AppSec challenges associated with mitigating software risk. ASOC solutions bridge the gap between GRC workflows and AppSec tools and processes, establishing testing automation, security intelligence, and risk visibility. Furthermore, ASOC solutions offer the advantage of avoiding vendor lock-in, as they can leverage normalized data regardless of the specific tools or brands used, whether commercial or open source, providing flexibility to adapt to specific business contexts.
To sum up, an ASOC solution strengthens the connection between GRC and AppSec by streamlining risk management, enhancing auditing practices, and enabling effective policy management. By leveraging ASOC, organizations can achieve a more comprehensive and cohesive approach to software risk mitigation, leading to improved software quality, compliance, and cost-effectiveness.
E-SPIN Group is a leading provider of enterprise ICT solutions and value-added services. We specialize in providing customized end-to-end solutions that meet the specific needs and requirements of our clients. Our services include consultancy, supply, integration, project management, training, and maintenance, all of which are designed to help organizations achieve their regulatory compliance goals and improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Whether you need a customised solution for your entire organization or a point solution for a specific area of your business, E-SPIN Group has the expertise and experience to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your organisation’s needs and requirements.