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What is application security monitoring?

While there are many ways to track performance and threats, application security monitoring combines several crucial components and offers unique benefits.

Rising cloud complexity has made securing cloud-native and multicloud applications significantly more difficult. With the pace of digital transformation continuing to accelerate, organizations are realizing the growing imperative to have a robust application security monitoring process in place.

Cloud applications are built with the help of a software supply chain, such as OSS libraries and third-party software. According to recent research, 68% of CISOs say vulnerability management has become more difficult due to increased software supply chain and cloud complexity. Moreover, 74% of CISOs face a significant challenge in minimizing risk in their environments, given the difficulty of working with vendors to identify and resolve vulnerabilities.

Application security monitoring is the practice of monitoring and analyzing applications or software systems to detect vulnerabilities, identify threats, and mitigate attacks. Continuously monitoring application behavior, network traffic, and system logs allows teams to identify abnormal or suspicious activities that could indicate a security breach.

While there are disparate ways to track program performance and proactively address potential threats, effective application security monitoring combines several crucial components and offers significant benefits to organizations.

What are the goals of continuous application security monitoring and why is it important?

Application monitoring has three primary goals: identify risks, detect potential vulnerabilities, and respond appropriately.

While point-in-time monitoring provides a security snapshot, it doesn’t tell the whole story. With a continuous, ongoing monitoring approach, organizations can enjoy several advantages. These advantages include quickly identifying, prioritizing, correcting, and reporting critical application vulnerabilities.


The identification stage of application security monitoring involves discovering and pinpointing potential security weaknesses within an application’s code, configuration, or design. Identifying any critical vulnerabilities is an important stage in understanding an application’s overall security posture.

By continuously monitoring an application, security teams can detect and identify potential critical vulnerabilities in software solutions or their configurations. These could include issues with vulnerable and outdated components, injections, and software and data integrity failures.


Continuous application security monitoring helps detect exploit attempts in real time. This approach can determine malicious activity and block it by monitoring the flow of data within the application, all the way from the user to the database. During the development stage, vulnerabilities can arise when developers use third-party open-source code or make an error in application logic. By continuously monitoring the security state of an application, teams can detect these vulnerabilities as soon as they emerge. Early detection enables timely remediation before attackers can exploit the vulnerability. If a vulnerability remains undetected, the compromised code can allow attackers access to data they’re not authorized to have.

Response and remediation

After detecting a security incident, application security monitoring enables speedy responses and mitigation. Data from application security monitoring tools helps teams understand the nature of the incident and its impact. Armed with data, teams can effectively investigate, contain, and remediate the issue.

Rapid identification and remediation are key in minimizing a security incident’s impact. Continuous monitoring allows security teams to identify security breaches quickly, investigate the root cause, and implement remediation actions. In turn, they reduce the overall time to respond and remediate critical security incidents.

Proactive prioritization

Proactive prioritization of vulnerabilities is a strategic approach to managing security vulnerabilities that focuses resources on addressing the most critical and high-impact issues first. Organizations can proactively manage security risks by identifying and prioritizing threat patterns. These trends can then help them implement security measures that address specific risks and reduce the likelihood of further attacks.

By focusing on the most critical vulnerabilities that pose the greatest risk, organizations can reduce their exposure to potential security breaches and make informed decisions about where to invest in remediation efforts. This approach helps organizations address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors and ultimately enhances their overall security posture.

Improved incident response and forensics

Incident response is a structured approach that focuses on addressing and mitigating the immediate effects of security incidents. Forensics focuses on the systemic investigation and analysis of digital evidence to determine root causes.

Continuous security monitoring provides detailed logs and audit trails that are valuable during incident response and forensic investigations. These logs and trails can help teams reconstruct the timeline of events, understand a security incident’s scope and impact, and gather evidence for legal or regulatory purposes.

What are the key components of application security monitoring?

While no two application security deployments are identical, there are four necessary components of application security monitoring that prove to be effective.

Logging and auditing

Application security monitoring starts with collecting and analyzing the application’s logs and audit trails. These logs and audit trails provide valuable information about the application’s behavior and potential security incidents.

Vulnerability scanning

Regular vulnerability scans are crucial to identifying potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities in an application. Automated vulnerability scanning tools scan the application to identify any known security weaknesses such as vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and outdated software components.

Incident detection and response

In the event of a security incident, there is a well-defined incident response process to investigate and mitigate the issue. This process may involve behavioral analytics; real-time monitoring of network traffic, user activity, and system logs; and threat intelligence. Effective incident detection and response goes through phases of isolating affected systems, analyzing the impact, identifying the root cause, and taking appropriate remedial actions.

Real-time monitoring

Application security monitoring often includes real-time monitoring of the application’s infrastructure, network traffic, and user activities for any signs of intrusion or suspicious behavior. Deviations or anomalies from “normal” application behavior can indicate a valid security concern.

What are application security monitoring best practices?

Effective application security monitoring combines logging, scanning, detection, and identification. The following best practices can help organizations achieve these goals:

Prioritize visibility

Application security monitoring solutions deliver value based on visibility. The more visible and accessible local, hybrid, and cloud networks are, the more accurate and timely the results of app sec monitoring. As a result, it’s critical to prioritize IT tools and environments that offer interconnection and interoperation to help underpin the efficacy of application monitoring tools.

Enable analytics

Visibility sets the stage while analytics help turn data into action. By deploying analytics tools capable of capturing and correlating data from runtime to session termination, teams are better equipped to make the best use of real-time monitoring tools.

Implement AI

Even for experienced teams, the sheer volume of user, incident, and operational data makes it virtually impossible to keep pace with the volume and variety of security monitoring alerts. Implementing AI-assisted vulnerability identification and prioritization tools can help businesses determine the best course of immediate action and create an evolving knowledge base to help limit the impact of future threats.

Bring staff on board

The best monitoring tools cannot perform to their full potential without support from staff. As a result, organizations need to involve staff from the start. This may include asking for feedback about current monitoring pain points, looking for suggestions about what potential solutions should include, and allowing teams to see platforms in action before they are deployed at scale.

Continuous application security monitoring at scale

Continuous application security monitoring is a crucial aspect of maintaining the security of software applications. It’s important to continuously monitor and assess an application’s security posture to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities and threats. The end goal of application security monitoring is to ensure that the application remains secure and that any potential security issues are promptly detected and addressed. As attacks evolve, however, organizations need AI-driven tools that go beyond the basics. They must be able to pinpoint root causes, reduce attack impacts, predict potential threats, and enable speedy remediation.

Runtime vulnerability analytics, runtime security protection and analytics, and AI-assisted prioritization are cornerstones of the Dynatrace approach to application security monitoring. The platform enables security teams to reduce the time and cost to identify application vulnerabilities, continuously monitor and block common application attacks, quickly gain actionable insights that enable proactive security risk mitigation, and leverage runtime and observability context to precisely implement remediation.

Ready to learn more about how DevSecOps enables faster innovation without compromising security? Explore how Dynatrace can help CISOs better manage risk in the 2023 CISO Report.