Introduction 

Applications or Apps as they are called have become an integral part of any operating system. There are hundreds of apps entering the market every year and most of them – around 90%, are not tested for vulnerabilities during development and quality assurance stages. Many more go unprotected during the production phase. This is the reason that apps have become the main target of black hat hackers, who know that it’s easier to find and exploit these weaknesses in apps to conduct a data breach in systems. 

Cyber security experts struggle to protect these apps from attack and keep on finding new ways to protect precious data from being stolen. This is where RASP (Runtime Application Self Protection) comes to rescue.

  1. What is RASP?
  2. Working
  3. Benefits of RASP

1) What is RASP 

RASP stands for Runtime Application Self Protection and as its name suggests, it triggers actions to protect the app while it is running. Going by RASP meaning – applications protect themselves from cyber-attacks by identifying and blocking attacks in real-time, by analyzing their behaviour and the context in which that particular behaviour pattern occurs.

To define RASP in simpler terms – It is an application security technology that is installed in the server and triggers when an app is in the final stage of execution i.e., the runtime. RASP technology improves the security of server manifold, by observing the inputs and blocking the ones that could allow attacks. At the same time, it protects the runtime environment from tampering and unwanted changes. 

2) Working  

Unlike the working of external protection devices like firewalls, RASP can take a series of actions to protect the system from attack as soon as it detects malicious activity going around. It uses the app to continuously monitor its own behaviour, thus identifying and mitigating attacks without any human intervention. These actions may include terminating a user’s active session, shutting down the application and alerting the user and security personnel in its wake. Runtime Application Self Protection – RASP can be used to protect both web and non-web-based apps. It can be integrated into the system by developers in a couple of ways.

 The first is by using the function calls included in the app’s source code to access technology and the other is by taking a completed app and putting it in a wrapper to allow the app to be secured by the push of a single button. The prior one is given preference by developers as it helps them in making precise decisions about specific parts and functionalities of the app such as login, database or administrative tasks and taking steps to protect them. 

It can be integrated within the app as a module that runs in tandem with the program’s codes, libraries and system calls. It can even be implemented by creating a virtual version. The RASP security can be deployed in the monitor mode or the protection mode. In monitor mode, the RASP only reports the web application attacks but does not block them. In protection mode, the RASP reports as well as blocks the web application attacks carried out on the target system. 

3) Benefits of RASP 

In contrast to a firewall, that provides protection from the outside through isolated network protection method, RASP technology works from the inside of the app, thus providing contextualized service and that is its biggest asset. In addition to added security and a broad range of protection, there are a range of benefits that RASP provides: 

  • Detecting and blocking attacks in real-time. 
  • In comparing RASP vs WAF, RASP looks for suspicious actions within the app whereas a Web Application Firewall (WAF) analyses known or preset signatures and patterns based on commonly known attacks.  
  • Unlike WAF, that provides security around the perimeter of the app, but has no say in activities going inside the app itself; RASP can defend applications from attacks even after a hacker has breached the perimeter defences. 
  • Due to its working at runtime environment, it delivers security that is better tailored to the app’s specific requirements. 
  • As the alerts provided are more accurate, RASP helps security team to provide strategic security on a priority basis. 
  • In addition to blocking attacks, RASP also monitors the apps closely for any unauthenticated usage or tampering inside the system. 
  • RASP doesn’t require a change in the application code, it doesn’t interfere in the design of the app. 
  • It can detect and block a range of attacks like CSS, HTTP tampering, Regex DOS, CSRF etc. 

Conclusion

RASP application security is a game changer in the app security and protection arena. It helps organizations detect and deal with threats in real-time, allowing alerts to security experts to pinpoint the area that needs work on priority. With its varied set of capabilities to deal with threats and malware, RASP is the ideal choice to thwart and mitigate attacks with high efficacy.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.

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