Security Solutions

4 mins

Automated security testing is on the rise

In many businesses, the benefits of automation are well understood. By relieving employees of repetitive, manual tasks, your staff can instead focus on coming up with innovative new concepts, being more productive, and adding value. But in the world of cybersecurity, automation is increasingly being seen not as an added benefit, but as absolutely essential. 

The latest Building Security in Maturity Model (BSIMM) report, BSIMM14, outlines just how important automation is becoming to security testing, as well as the ways in which it is driving change within many cybersecurity strategies. Most prominently, automation is enabling more organizations to adopt a “shift everywhere” approach to software security - one that takes a holistic view of digital assets, risks, and security stakeholders

Embracing “shift everywhere”

Modern organizations face a rapidly increasing number of cybersecurity threats, coming from a variety of angles. With threat actors growing more innovative and underhand in their methods, cybersecurity teams face the difficult task of protecting their expanding network perimeters against a growing barrage of threats. In this complex security environment, automation represents a compelling approach for companies that want to eliminate human error, safeguard large numbers of assets (both known and unknown), and do more with less.    

But automation won’t plug all your security gaps on its own. That’s why many businesses are combining it with a change in their security philosophy - adopting a “shift everywhere” approach. But what does “shift everywhere” mean?

The concept of “shift left” has been utilized by security personnel for a number of years and describes the movement of security considerations closer to the beginning of your development timeline. Conversely, a “shift right” approach describes moving security testing the other way - toward the post-production environment. Shift everywhere is something different altogether. 

A shift everywhere testing philosophy depends on the incorporation of security into every aspect of the software development life cycle. Every asset. Every line of code. However, a shift everywhere approach also depends on mature development and robust security pipelines. And for that, it’s becoming clear to more businesses that automation is required.

According to the BSIMM report, an embrace of automation is driving the adoption of shift everywhere strategies. Automated, event-driven security testing has increased by 200% in the last two years. Cybersecurity teams are using automation to better gather and make use of intelligence provided by sensors throughout the software pipeline, which is allowing developers to proactively prevent vulnerabilities. For example, feedback as a result of software lifecycle data was observed at an increased rate of 36% in the past year.

The BSIMM report wasn’t all good news for cybersecurity professionals, however. A decline in expert-driven activities that are not easily automated suggests that more businesses should view automation as an addition to their human cybersecurity agents - not a replacement for them.

Demanding more from vendors

The right tooling is at the heart of any successful cybersecurity strategy - and is fundamental to the adoption of automated testing. This is evident from the fact that businesses that have fully embraced the cloud have found it easier to implement security automation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that organizations should work with any old cloud vendor. However, in an increasingly crowded market, choosing the right third-party software provider can be a challenge. 

Increasingly, businesses are demanding more and more from the vendors they collaborate with. This is especially true of a vendor’s security credentials. The BSIMM report found that business expectations of a vendor’s security practices increased by 21%, with firms holding vendors to standards similar to (or greater than) those they hold internally. Not only does this mean businesses can leverage expertise and digital tools that aren’t present inside the company, but also that they can avoid the additional security coaching or training that would be required to deliver an internally developed tool. 

Automation can be used to monitor all the code you bring in from outside the organization, as well as any written by your own developers. It can be used to mimic attackers and apply a holistic approach to securing applications. It enables the right-sized testing at the right time. And that is the embodiment of the shift everywhere approach to security testing. 

AI adoption

Looking at the rise of automated security testing in more detail reveals that AI is playing an increasingly important role. In order to future-proof solutions and their security credentials, this role will surely grow in prominence. 

Although much evolution is still to come, AI and large language models (LLMs) are already being integrated into many programs. AI is being used throughout the software development lifecycle to write code, design applications, and conduct debugging. Leveraging AI can represent a logical way to automate various elements of your software development and support. This can, in turn, lead to a faster, more secure development lifecycle. 

It is worth noting, however, that AI can also introduce new attack surfaces and additional risk, emphasizing, once again, the importance of choosing any vendor promising AI-driven automated security testing carefully. 

AI is also being weaponized by attackers, so cyberattacks are becoming faster and more ingenious when it comes to infiltrating defenses. It’s important that businesses learn to fight fire with fire by leveraging AI on their own terms to enhance their security posture. Although the latest BSIMM report reveals minimal AI security implementation so far, the report’s authors recognize it is only a matter of time before this is widespread. So with AI’s impact on security - both good and bad - seemingly inevitable, it’s time businesses start looking at vendors promising AI-driven security solutions. It’s time businesses start looking at Hadrian.

At Hadrian, event-based AI enhances your cybersecurity strategy with automated penetration testing that discovers vulnerable attack vectors, performs continuous risk assessments, and emulates the latest hacker exploits. Hadrian works with your security teams too, alerting them whenever remediation is required.

With Hadrian’s automated security testing, organizations can shift left, right, or everywhere - whatever their strategy demands. Automation provides the only way of remaining secure in today’s fast-moving threat landscape. It means the security credentials of your in-house developers, or those of your vendors, can be monitored in real-time so you can unlock the full potential of any application.

Automation is the latest trend in software security. AI will be the next. Embrace both today with Hadrian.

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