Among the application security testing (AST) methodologies, the dynamic application security testing (DAST) method operates through an external attacking mode. DAST doesn’t require access to the application or its source code since they formulate attack methods, similar to the black box penetration testing method.
DAST solutions are best suited to detect flaws in application security such as SQL injection possibilities, cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks, external XML entities (XXE), etc. Along with the static method of scanning the source code, this form of dynamic analysis greatly contributes to the overall security of the application.
Why Do You Need Dynamic Application Security Testing?
Lack of proper security for web applications can become major threats for every organization especially since they’re vital for business operations. Here are some other reasons why DAST is important:
- Increase in attacks on web applications and the API layer
Most cyberattacks are now focused on the web applications and the API layer and improper web application security testing (AST) techniques will lead to a severe loss of reputation and revenue. Therefore, firms must have the security infrastructure to prevent the compromising of critical web applications and sensitive data by detecting and resolving vulnerabilities as quickly as possible. Here, dynamic application security testing tools can assist since they use similar approaches as hackers with the same interface for attacking public services.
- Precisely finds issues in the microservices architecture
The benefit of the DAST methodology is its ability to attack possibilities and backdoors that may be missed by most testing methodologies, especially if the firm uses a microservices architecture. Static application security testing (SAST) tools can assist in scanning the source code but it’s not possible for them to identify the vulnerabilities in the interactions between microservices.
They also face restrictions from their environment because of their dependency on the programming language and a higher probability of false positives. Through their external attacks, DAST solutions are able to resolve these limitations using a production-like environment and visualizing how the microservices interact with each other, the components, and the users. DAST techniques can also be used from the pull request level to the staging environment for quickly finding vulnerabilities.
Dynamic Application Security Testing Tools
Most DAST tools scan for web application vulnerabilities using automated scans that take on the form of malicious external attacks. The output is then studied and compared with the expected outcome to identify the flaws. DAST tools typically test all the HTML and HTTP points of access and simulate random user behavior for discovering potential vulnerabilities. Since they don’t have access to the source code, the location of specific vulnerable components doesn’t come out during the testing. These tools also require the supervision of security experts as the tests need to be finetuned and the results should be evaluated within the context of the application logic.
One of the limitations of DAST tools is that they don’t offer the complete features of a penetration testing process. Instead, they majorly focus on systematic testing which is focused on the application’s runtime. Penetration testing, on the other hand, goes beyond the application and looks into possible vulnerabilities in the firewalls, routers, ports, services, etc. For conducting the entire procedure, the third-party service providers need to have a high level of understanding about the application being tested, the application servers, databases, access control lists, etc.
Recently, a new line of tools has come out that require less manual tuning by automatically creating test sets through the dynamic identification of the underlying structure of the application. The number of false positives is also reduced by using machine learning algorithms and fuzz testing techniques to analyze the results without human intervention. They are tuned to detect zero-day vulnerabilities and flaws in the business logic by accessing web applications from the perspective of a real user. Testers try out different control flows to discover a user interface path that can uncover a possible vulnerability. These new-generation tools also have AI detection features that are combined with real-time user data to identify possible zero-day attacks.
Dynamic Application Security Testing in the SDLC
By implementing the DAST techniques early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), firms are able to reduce the risk and save their resources. The DAST techniques contribute to compliance standards as well as other regulatory reporting requirements. It also helps the development teams to note any configuration issues, mistakes, and user experience problems and resolve them quickly. DAST tools discover and prioritize vulnerabilities based on their criticality by handing them over to the DevSecOps team.
Organizations should possess sufficient knowledge about the dynamic application security testing (DAST) techniques before proceeding with the testing and choosing the service provider. This will help them define their security goals in a more realistic manner by providing them accurate information about the situation.