What Is RASP: Runtime Application Self Protection

Learn what is Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP) – an application security technology to counteract any runtime attacks on applications:

Why is Runtime Application Self Protection required?

Do you know that attack vectors that are used on applications are now very intelligent that human detection no longer suffices but there is a need for a more intelligent approach to eliminate these attacks?

Rather than addressing the real deal, which is the design flaws in an application, software developers usually like to adopt traditional approaches that lead to failure in any security-threatening situation.

The rate at which software manufacturers are delivering applications to enterprise organizations is very high and there is a need to put a check to the challenge of protecting the applications against attack.

What Is Runtime Application Self Protection


One significant method is to have the applications doing self-protection by identifying and blocking any incoming attacks in real-time.

The more reason the Runtime Application Self-Protection was developed to eradicate this challenging situation that could come up in our deployed applications and is now making application security a no more casual approach to threat.


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How Does Runtime Application Self-Protection Work

It is an application security technology that was developed to counteract any runtime attacks inside the application layer by checking for any hidden vulnerabilities and providing real-time visibility into the entire application structure.

It integrates with an application and uses an artificial intelligence-like approach to constantly intercept any calls to the application and checking their security.

RASP software is not reactive rather, its proactive nature makes it not to wait for any attack on the application. It checks and flags down any malware traffic coming into the application even before such malware is executed inside the application.

malware traffic

Runtime Application Self-Protection is known for its ability to neutralize any threat and vulnerabilities, it is a very strong application that you can use against any zero-day attacks without any human intervention and makes use of more intelligence approaches like detecting behavioral changes that may have been caused by an attack and explains the prompt response to zero-day attacks.

It fights threat to an application rather than the usual traditional approach of protecting an application by blocking all suspected traffic like Web Application Firewalls (WAF).

It is not used to protect an entire network or used for endpoint protection, but its focus is on the protection of a singular application. While this is good in terms of security priority for RASP, as it will only need to monitor every input, output, and internal process in the application that it is protecting.

Also Read =>> Application Security Testing tools

How To Implement RASP As Against WAF

Web Application Firewalls (WAF) is a traditional security device or application that is usually placed before the web applications, used to check every incoming HTTP request traffic for known attack and detect any abnormal patterns.

Firewall rules can be built into WAF for only attacks that are well known. But in terms of some very sophisticated new threats, the WAF will not really be effective as it will not be an easy task writing rules to be blocking them.

Web Application Firewalls

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WAF Diagram

But RASP is always integrated into the main application and this helps to detect threat vectors and blocking them. RASP deployment is seamless, with zero code deployment and integration which creates a very minimal impact on the overall performance of the application.

Runtime Application Self Protection Diagram:

RASP Diagram

The RASP layer sits beside the main application and monitors every incoming traffic to both the server and APIs of the application. If any threat vectors are detected, it will trigger runtime protection measures and immediately protect the application from any further attack.

All the requests coming into the system are properly checked by the RASP that sits between the application and the server without causing any performance issues to the application.

RASP layer

Cloud computing has significantly exposed the traditional approach of perimeter security has lacked some vital aspects of security which is proof that it’s not enough to adequately protect applications hosted on the cloud.

Now come Runtime Application Self-Protection which can be integrated like a security framework to work with the application code. It is so powerful that it has more capabilities to counteract any actions that could allow any threat to be executed and not just detect threat vectors like WAF will do.

The way this works is by terminating any user session that suggests a bad actor online or analyzing all the request traffic at runtime and monitoring their impact on the application. It is known for its proximity nature to vulnerable code inside the application which helps it to trigger fewer false positives alarms.

WAF Vs RASP: A Comparison

Refer to the below table to understand the comparison:

Attack preventionPattern matching via predefined rules.Runtime application self-protection
Attack & vulnerabilitiesIt fights attack and prevents the attack.Detects both attacks and vulnerability
Working ProcessIt mitigates DDoS Attacks and Blocks Brute Force Attacks from intrudersThis Injects security at runtime for the application
False positivesThis may occur sometimesThere are NO false positives. It has highly accurate reporting.
Protection methodWAF protects applications by filtering, monitoring, and blocking any malicious request or traffic coming into the application using some set of rules.This application is developed to detect attacks in real-time on any application. At runtime, RASP protect an application just by comparing the behavior of the application and the context of that behavior.
Intelligence, Insights & visibilityNot really an intelligent device or application.This is an intelligent app and it supports Penetration testing with greater visibility
Rule typesStatic rulesIt is application-specific
AlertsThe alerts are based on predictionsThe alerts are based on application behavior
Protection & identificationIt is Protection for both web app and mobile app.This is a major protection for web app and it identifies bugs in an application.
Logs of activityThere exist security event logs that capture all activities.RASP also logs all security incidents for audit purposes.
Attack RemediationWAF creates a set of policies and rules that can be used against attacks like Brute Force, SQL injection, and Cross-site scripting.RASP makes use of different detection techniques. It makes use of behavioral analysis and signatures.
DeploymentVery flexible and support hybrid deploymentVery easy and flexible to deploy too with minimal overhead cost.
Defense levelIt has a Multi-layer defense but does not sit inside the application.The actual defense happens inside the application because it sits inside the app.
Unvalidated redirects and forwardsNoneNone
Missing function level access controlNoneNone
SSL MisconfigurationVery much availableOut of scope

RASP Deployment Modes

The different deployment modes are explained below:

#1) The off mode: In this mode, there is no monitoring or blocking of requests or calls. All calls are passed without any hindrances coming from RASP.


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#2) The monitoring mode: In this mode, the RASP monitors the application for any threats and issues alerts, and reports but does not block any requests or calls.


#3) The block mode: This is the mode that RASP blocks any illegitimate calls or request to the application.

 The block mode

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#4) The block at perimeter mode: This mode behaves like the WAF, just the same way there are pre-defined rules set for WAF. Set rules that the Runtime Application Self-Protection will require fighting attacks. Any request or calls that do not have similar rules to the one defined in the RASP will be rejected and blocked.

Benefits Of RASP In DevOps

These are as follows:

#1) Focus and Cost-effective: RASP solutions are more focus-oriented than the traditional web application firewalls that use a general approach. It has a deep view and insight into your application layer simply because it is integrated into the application.

Its deep viewability helps you to detect different application vulnerabilities. It is cost-effective and values for money when compared to other security solutions.

#2) Reduces False Positives: RASP handles false positives so well because they reside within the application. It has a deep view of how an application behaves. One way it does this is by observing how the application execution flow is hindered by a potential attack.

This in-built ability helps RASP to differentiate genuine attacks that have a negative effect on the application (True Positive) from false attacks like an SQL injection that are never sent as SQL query (False Positive). When you have a reduction in the number of false positives, this will help the security team to focus more on genuine threats rather than the distractions that false positives could cause.

#3) Proactive Nature: It is very proactive rather than being reactive. It monitors the application for any suspected behavior like network sniffing, tampering with code, and data leakage. It has incident management and event logging by default that helps in any auditing process and also helps the company to know the angle to invest more for better ROI.

#4) DevSecOps Integration: RASP fully supports Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) in an agile environment. It is well-positioned in the software development life cycle. It is fully scalable and readily available to counteract any attack whether it is coming from web services or APIs.

RASP readily syncs with any features and functionalities in an agile environment. It supports full collaboration among the development and security teams for the rapid coordination and deployment of applications. It can work seamlessly with other security tools like WAF.

#5) Pen-test Support: Penetration testing is one way to find loopholes or vulnerabilities in an application and RASP will definitely complement the penetration effort by the security team through its visibility capability.

Through the help of the dashboard, the application threat intelligence can be combined with all the areas that have been tested, including the exact lines of code where the vulnerabilities exist. This is very crucial to the business goal of zero tolerance for application vulnerability.

#6) Incident Log Monitoring: RASP has an in-built incident logging system that helps to deal with application-layer attacks appropriately. It can address both known vulnerabilities and unknown vulnerabilities. It logs every event/trigger for proper auditing process and to make some business-critical decisions.

#7) Performance Nature: Sometimes the development team is always hesitant to implement RASP, thinking that it might have a negative impact on the performance of the application. What you should understand is that RASP consumes very minimal resources and has a very low-performance latency.

#8) Instill Stakeholders Confidence: There is no other security application that will provide a return on investment than what RASP will provide and this instills confidence and trust in it for providing production environment security.

There is no other application that can offer all the benefits that RASP can bring to stakeholders. All stakeholders want their applications to be completely secure with a self-protection security app like RASP.

#9) Zero-Day Protection: RASP uses signatures to identify attacks and different patterns. It is not just limited to only signature-based detection, it also identifies and responds to abnormal behaviors. With this RASP reaction, it can detect and block any zero-day attacks.

Some organization has their own way of developing patches for any of their applications and you can only affect these patches if it has been developed and released. This is where RASP comes into play as it can protect your critical resources like your applications against any zero-day attack.

#10) Easy and Flexible Deployment: RASP deployment is very easy and flexible. The application is developed on HTML standards and this makes it very easy to integrate its API to work with different software architectures and software standards.

This flexibility allows it to even protect non-web applications using standards like XML and RPC. It supports multiple frameworks and languages.

#11) Easy Maintenance: RASP does not overburden any team. It highly supports insight into an application, not just by setting traffic rules or blacklisting. Even Security Operation Center (SOC) team and CISO’s prefer this application because it is cost-effective and never creates an unnecessary task for them, it is very reliable.

#12) Cloud Support: RASP can be integrated into any DevOps environment where it can run and the cloud is one of the environments. It fully supports cloud computing. The capacity to secure the cloud is not a joke as it demands great effort to achieve, this is because applications are running on another person’s infrastructure which is outside the organization’s secure network.

When you integrate RASP into your applications, this will provide you with the rest of your mind that your application is safe even though the network security may not be enough.

#13) No Training Required: RASP does not need to be taught what inappropriate behavior is. It sits within the application and knows what the application should and should not be doing. When the application’s behavior changes, the RASP adapts and detects any abnormal behavior; it does not react base on any set of pre-defined rules.

#14) Availability of Time to Fix Vulnerabilities: This technology provides the programmers with enough time to fix any vulnerabilities within the application even while still releasing new applications and features. Since it sometimes takes months to develop and apply these patches, RASP will always provide the needed protection for the application by blocking any incoming abnormal requests or calls from causing any further attacks.

Drawbacks Of Runtime Application Self Protection

These are enlisted below:

#1) Mutual Compatibility Context: Since RASP sits inside the application framework, it maintains an intimate relationship with the application it is supposed to protect. They are usually built with a particular programming language.

For example, a RASP that is designed to protect a Ruby application cannot protect a C# application. But RASP supports most of the major common programming languages available today.

#2) Lack of Broader Business Context: Some sophisticated approaches that some attackers now make use of have sometimes bypassed RASP detection. Protection for this kind of intrusion requires building a very broad business context for the application which RASP lacks.

The absence of proper authorization checks allows attackers to access the unauthorized resource, which results in Broken Object Level Authentication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is RASP security testing?

Answer: It is a tool developed to run inside an application and detect attacks in real-time. It will always protect an application from any malicious attack or behavior by analyzing the application behavior and also analyzing every request coming into the application.

Q #2) What is RASP in cybersecurity?

Answer: RASP means runtime application self-protection. It’s software designed and developed to protect your enterprise applications.

Q #3) What is a Runtime Application Self Protection solution?

Answer: Runtime Application Self Protection is a security solution designed to provide protection to enterprise applications. It uses an intelligent approach to get an insight into an application by analyzing every activity going on inside the application. This security solution will always identify vulnerabilities that other security solutions could not detect.

Q #4) What is a RASP vs WAF?

Answer: WAF is a network security device that detects and takes action against attacks by blocking any request that fails the predefined rule set up in the WAF.

While Runtime Application Self-Protection does not actually need a pre-defined rule to detect and protect attacks in real-time. WAF protects mobile apps from malicious attacks while RASP can protect your web applications against threats.

Q #5) Is RASP a network device?

Answer: No. It is not a network device, rather it’s a software solution that has a completely different way of deployment from any other security solution.

Q #6) What are Runtime Application Self Protection tools?

Answer: This is a security tool used to fight off attacks coming into an application and it resides with the main application.


Every right-thinking organization should start thinking about how to integrate RASP into their enterprise. The monitoring, traffic analysis, high accuracy reporting, and intelligence approach that Runtime Application Self Protection uses is what every organization needs today to quickly and effectively deal with any sophisticated threat currently available globally.

Suggested Reading =>> Compare SAST, DAST, IAST, And RASP

With monitoring, traffic analysis, and learning capabilities of RASP, applications can be equipped with a RASP layer that has capabilities to thwart attacks with high accuracy.