What is Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)?

Jun 21, 2022 6:31:00 PM

Dynamic Application Security Testing

There are 400 million active websites on the internet and all these websites are susceptible to vulnerabilities of one kind or the other. Even the microscale misconfigurations, such as improper validation, disclosure of server versions, and using vulnerable software libraries can lead to drastic security issues. To avoid the consequences, there is Application Security Testing. 



What is DAST: Dynamic Application Security Testing?


Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is the practice of examining an application for vulnerabilities while it’s running. It’s a type of black-box testing wherein the tester has no visibility of internal code, structure, or design but he examines the output of simulated attacks (made by DAST tools). The DAST output determines if the application is vulnerable to any malicious attack.

 

DAST mimics a malicious attack by simulating an automated attack on the application. This enables the testing team to discover unexpected scenarios that would otherwise be used by attackers to compromise the application.

There are different ways in which application testing can be performed. This involves testing an application in a static and dynamic environment. SAST and DAST are the two common approaches to testing an application. Let us understand what they are and how do they differ from each other. 

SAST vs DAST

 

Application security testing has been gaining ground owing to augmenting security breaching cases. There is a constant struggle to identify the flaws in the application at an early stage. For this, the SAST and DAST have prominently adopted approaches. 

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a white-box methodology for testing that involves analyzing an application at the code level. It inspects the source code and verifies the functionality of the software- integrations with third-party systems, infrastructure, etc. 

DAST is a dynamic scan that runs in real-time, i.e. when the application is in the production environment. Contrary to SAST, this approach does not require access to the source code or binaries for testing the application. 

While the goal of both the testing approaches is similar, there are the following differences between the two: 

SAST DAST
The vulnerabilities are examined and discovered at an early stage of development. Thus, fixing them early is possible. The vulnerabilities are usually discovered at a later stage in the development cycle. This might delay the fixing time.
SAST can only discover static issues. It cannot discover run-time or environment-related issues.
DAST tools perform dynamic analysis on applications and thus, can examine run-time vulnerabilities

SAST is suitable for almost all kinds of software. DAST is suitable for solutions such as web apps, web services, etc. 

 

Manual DAST vs Automated DAST


Dynamic Application Securit Testing (DAST) can either be executed manually or through automation. The quality analysis team can manually run the test cases in a live environment to see if the application functionality or performance is impacted by any attacks. 

In an automated DAST cycle, the scans are performed using scripts to perform functional testing of web apps. The request from the automation framework to the web app is sent through the proxy server. To automate DAST scans, we have a few tools out there that we will be discussing in the later section of this article. 

The DAST scan, when automated can be included in a CI/CD pipeline for continuous feedback on the security aspect of the application. 

ALSO READ: Understanding Software Testing Automation for Continuous Delivery

Tools for high-coverage DAST

 

There are several tools out there that can perform DAST security scans for web apps. Here is a list of the top 3 DAST tools: 

Invicti 

Invicti automates the security tasks and gives complete visibility of vulnerabilities and remediation efforts. The app provides a full-fledged report for HIPAA, PCI, and OWASP report for the testing team to ensure that the app follows the security compliances. 

Astra

Astra is another cloud-based DAST tool that facilitates intelligent scanning and provides security updates in a CXO and developer-friendly dashboard. The testers can integrate Astra with CI/CD tools to manage vulnerabilities without bringing any change to the usual workflow of the business. 

Port Swigger 

PortSwigger has a variety of tools for web application testing, security, and scanning. It helps the testing team to discover the latest vulnerabilities and work on them. The application is available in different editions and provides automated protection against vulnerabilities. 

Conclusion


Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a powerful tool for detecting security threats on a website/web app. Whether a traditional SDLC cycle or a CI/CD pipeline, DAST is fit for vulnerability tests in both cases. 


To get started with SAST or DAST for your web application, set up a free consultation with our QA experts. For reference to what our team can do for your business or applications, check out our software testing services.

 

Archna Oberoi

Written by Archna Oberoi

Content strategist by profession and blogger by passion, Archna is avid about updating herself with the freshest dose of technology and sharing them with the readers. Stay tuned here as she brings some trending stories from the tech-territory of mobile and web.