Published: 30/06/2021

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP)

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is a new application security technology that provides an additional layer of protection against cyberattacks. It also reduces the cost and complexity associated with traditional application security solutions by automating remediation processes, reducing false positives, and increasing efficiency.

How does runtime application self-protection work?

RASP works by running security analysis in real-time. It’s installed as a lightweight virtual machine, with no external agents or dependencies required to operate. Runtime Application Self-Protection is agentless and can be deployed on any system that runs applications including:

  • Servers
  • Desktops
  • Endpoint devices
  • IoT devices

What types of risks RASP protects from?

Runtime Application Self-Protection protects against common web threats, vulnerabilities, and exploits that affect both software and firmware. This includes:

Web attacks

RASP automatically blocks viruses, malware, zero-day attacks by using a virtual patching engine to provide protection without disrupting the user experience. It also provides additional benefits like reducing false positives from traditional anti-virus or sandbox solutions via signature learning; it’s able to detect previously unknown cyberattacks with no need for updates as they happen in real-time.

Malware infections

Attackers can take control of a device by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system and applications. RASP detects malware that makes it past traditional anti-virus security, but also prevents any exploits from ever taking place because they’re never allowed to occur—by design.


RASP defends against rootkit attacks by monitoring for unauthorized modifications to critical files on servers or desktop endpoints. If such an attack were detected, then RASP would restore those systems back to their original state without the attacker gaining access.

Application crashes/freezes

While some application stability issues are related to poor coding practices, others can be caused by bugs introduced through malicious code injection. To protect against these types of threats, RASP can automatically restart the application and provide details about what caused it to crash.

Who should use runtime application self-protection?


Developers use RASP to validate that their code doesn’t contain any vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, developers can use Runtime Application Self-Protection for development and testing purposes which helps them to improve the overall quality of their applications, before releasing them into production environments.

Operations teams

Operations teams use Runtime Application Self-Protection to achieve security compliance.

They also use RASP in production environments, as well as during application build and integration activities. This is done in order to monitor the status of applications once they have been deployed into a production environment or whether they are being integrated with other products.

Server administrators

Server administrators use Runtime Application Self-Protection to protect servers and networks from potential vulnerabilities in applications. They also monitor the runtime application for any errors, crashes or other disruptions that might disrupt service availability.


End-users use Runtime Application Self-Protection to protect their applications. They use it to monitor the runtime application for any errors, crashes or other disruptions that might disrupt their work.

Users of IT services often have a variety of applications running on their devices and need protection in case one is compromised by malware. They may also want to know which apps are consuming bandwidth, so they can make smart decisions about what data rates are appropriate for different app needs.

The benefits of using RASP

Users of Runtime Application Self-Protection can monitor their application for any errors, crashes or other disruptions that might disrupt service availability. They also have a variety of applications running on their devices and need protection in case one is compromised by malware.

They may also want to know which apps are consuming bandwidth, so they can make smart decisions about what data rates are appropriate for different app needs. This means that the user will be able to choose how much storage space each app requires without having it rely solely on luck if enough memory is available. Furthermore, RASP enables users to run multiple versions of an application at the same time while still being protected against vulnerabilities in old versions when new ones become available from its developers.

Key benefits of using runtime application self-protection

  • In contrast to traditional antivirus software, which scans files on a computer, RASP works by monitoring the code in real-time as it runs.
  • RASP protects applications by detecting and preventing attacks before they can do any damage to the system.
  • Runtime Application Self-Protection identifies malicious behavior in code and blocks it from running, stopping all potential harm before it starts.
  • RASP prevents data breaches by identifying and containing malware when an attack happens so it doesn’t have a chance to spread across the network or steal information.
  • By using this technology, developers can save time on code reviews and testing while still achieving the same level of security.

The disadvantages of using RASP

Despite the fact that Runtime Application Self-Protection is an emerging technology, it has achieved impressive results in both performance and security. RASP protection can be done during development time without any modifications to a production environment. This means when developers create applications, they are able to integrate RASP protection against common vulnerabilities such as SQL injection attacks or cross-site scripting threats into their application code before release – saving them from having to do this work after software goes live in order to protect it from these common types of exploits.

However, there are disadvantages associated with using RASP – including new vulnerabilities being discovered constantly which cannot be prevented by the system; the cost for organizations who may not have adequate IT staff or resources to handle RASP; and the fact that RASP is not a one-size-fits-all solution for protecting applications.

Key disadvantages of using runtime application self-protection

  • New vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered in software products and services; therefore, it is impossible for RASP to protect against all vulnerabilities.
  • The cost of implementing RASP can be prohibitively high for many organizations.
  • RASP can be difficult to set up and manage, especially for smaller companies without adequate IT staff.
  • Some developers have reported that using Runtime Application Self-Protection slows down their applications by up to 50% or more.

Web application firewall (WAF) vs runtime application self-protection (RASP)

What is WAF?

Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a type of software that sits in line between the user and a web application.

A WAF is designed to detect malicious activity or hacking attempts on an organization’s website before they reach the core infrastructure.

Key differences between RASP and WAF

  • A WAF protects web applications. RASP can protect any kind of software application, not just a website or app running on the internet.
  • It’s more difficult to monitor and detect new types of attacks with a Web Application Firewall because WAF requires an organization to know what vulnerabilities are out there in order to build their defense against themThe detection for RASP is performed by monitoring runtime application behavior instead of looking at code signatures that have been previously identified as malicious.
  • A RASP provides protection against new application vulnerabilities not present in a WAF. A WAF is more reactive, whereas a Runtime Application Self-Protection can be proactive in identifying and mitigating the risks of an attack on legacy applications or those that have been developed for operating systems other than Windows.

How RASP and WAF complement each other

The Runtime Application Self-Protection is not a replacement for the WAF but rather an additional layer of security that provides defense against new application vulnerabilities. This type of protection can be used to defend legacy applications or those that have been developed for operating systems other than Windows. The detection process with RASP monitors runtime application behavior instead of looking at code signatures that have already been identified as malicious, and in this way it works differently from a WAF. A WAF is more reactive while RASP can be proactive in identifying and mitigating risks before they are exploited by attackers on vulnerable applications (or their data).

How to implement runtime application self-protection

Most Runtime Application Self-Protection systems are implemented at the network layer, meaning they interpose themselves between clients and servers. This is typically done by deploying a hardware appliance on the network or as an add-on to another security product such as a firewall.

Security concerns that need to be addressed before implementing a RASP

When implementing a Runtime Application Self-Protection system, it is important to consider these security concerns:

  • RASP systems are most effective against known vulnerabilities and malware. As such, the value of an RASP system may be reduced if there is no mechanism for identifying new threats or the company does not have good visibility into their application landscape.
  • An attacker who finds a vulnerability that bypasses the protections offered by a RASP could use this as a foothold in your environment. Further mitigation measures will now need to be put in place before you can regain control over this potential intrusion point. This would include deploying additional detection tools (including behavioral analytics) to identify future evasions attempts from attackers leveraging the system’s weaknesses, or adding new protection mechanisms such as application whitelisting and network segmentation that are tailored for specific applications running on the same machine with different trust levels assigned.

Why is it important to have runtime application self-protection?

Runtime Application Self-Protection is important to have because it will protect your application from intrusions. The Runtime Application Self-Protection system monitors the state of an application’s runtime environment and automatically responds by taking corrective action if a security violation or breach attempt occurs.

As with any type of technology, RASP does come with both benefits and risks: one of the potential drawbacks that you may face when using this solution is installing new software on devices which could potentially cause compatibility issues for existing applications running in your infrastructure. Also, depending on how thorough you want to be with your deployment process (e.g., blocking unauthorized apps), some degree of manual labor will inevitably need to be applied in order for it to work properly as a security/privacy-enhancing solution.

How to decide if RASP is right for your application?

First, you need to understand what your application does. You then need to figure out if it is necessary for that particular app to have a level of security and privacy protection when in use. This would be dependent on the sensitivity of data being processed or transmitted by said application. If so, RASP could potentially be an option worth considering as part of your solution architecture because it will offer just enough protection without adding too much overhead/complexity (because not all apps require these types of protections).

When not to use RASP

If your application is not sensitive and does not process or transmit data that could be considered as sensitive, then RASP may not be necessary.

Alternative solutions for runtime application self-protection

Some alternatives to RASP exist which can be used in place of RASP, however, they come with their own specific sets of drawbacks. For example:

  • Protection against malicious code injection is possible through a combination of sandboxing and regular expression matching on request input strings. However, this strategy does not work well when dealing with vulnerabilities that allow attackers access within a privileged mode (i.e., Ring 0).
  • Runtime Code Emulation provides another viable option to protect applications from memory corruption attacks by executing programs inside an isolated environment and keeping them separate from other processes running on the computer system at any given time. This approach has been done successfully before but it often comes with the drawback that it does not work well for high-performance applications.

Frequently asked questions about RASP

Can RASP be used as a defense?

Yes, RASP can both be used to prevent potential damages when vulnerability exploitation occurs.

Is runtime application self-protection easy to use?

No, RASP is not an easy solution because it requires the installation of software packages and configuration changes in order for it to work properly. It also has been identified as being time-consuming and expensive by many organizations who have attempted to implement this type of protection without success.

What are some limitations that may limit the effectiveness of RASP?

Some common limitations include limited hardware resources available on IoT devices or small file sizes which could lead to false negatives with regular expression matching logic. In addition, buffer overflow attacks can be difficult if not impossible to defend against when using static code emulation over dynamic runtime analysis techniques. This technique would require extensive knowledge about all the possible combinations of input that could be used in an attack.

What makes a good RASP solution?

A good Runtime Application Self-Protection solution needs to:

  • Provide protection without sacrificing performance or needing significant spare CPU time.
  • Be easy to deploy and maintain across a large number of devices in different locations.
  • Prevent buffer overflow attacks by prioritizing defense against these types of threats.

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