Dynamic Application Security Testing: The Basics

Application Security Testing

When it comes to application security, there’s no straightforward approach. One thing is evident, that is, security testing tends to be the most crucial part of an SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). Dynamically testing your application is a good way to find out the security loopholes in it. In this article, we go over the basics of Dynamic Application Security Testing.

What is Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)?

DAST is the process of identifying vulnerabilities in an application while it’s running live. This type of security assessment is preferred over static analysis, as it tests the application In a close to the real-world working scenario. The tester interacts with the app to try and find any loopholes that could be exploited by attackers. It focuses on evaluating how secure your system is when it’s under heavy load or actual usage, unlike static testing which only looks at the code without actually executing it.

Pros and Cons of DAST

Pros of Dynamic Application Security Testing:

  • It’s more realistic as it tests the app in its live form.
  • Testers can interact with the app to try and find any loopholes that could be exploited by attackers.
  • It can pinpoint vulnerabilities in an application like SQL injection, Remote File Inclusion, Cross-site scripting, etc.
  • You can execute Dynamic Tests on your local machine (without using any cloud infrastructure).
  • There are a variety of Dynamic Testing solutions available on the market.

Cons of Dynamic Application Security Testing:

  • It requires a hands-on approach by security professionals
  • There’s a greater chance of the application crashing during web pen testing.
  • Due to its constant need for interaction, It can be time-consuming.
  • More expensive than static testing.
  • Costs could further increase due to multiple iterations.
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Types of Dynamic Application Security Testing

DAST can be performed in different ways, based on the tools that are used for it.

Manual Dynamic Application Security Testing: In this type of testing, a security professional has to manually interact with the app and try finding any vulnerabilities in it. This method is not recommended as there’s no way you can test all possible scenarios without exhausting yourself or missing out on key findings.

Automated Dynamic Application Security Testing: This type of DAST uses a tool that can automatically find security loopholes in an app. The tester has to configure the input data and expected result, after which the software runs against it without any manual intervention from them. It is generally preferred over Manual testing as it can be more efficient and save up on a lot of time due to its automated nature.

Who can benefit from DAST?

Developers: Dynamic testing is a good way to test the security of your application before it is deployed for use. You can identify vulnerabilities in the application by using tools that run Dynamic Tests on them, which will help you improve their security and fix any loopholes beforehand.

Quality Assurance (QA) Team: It can be quite helpful for QA teams. They use Dynamic Tests to check the security of web applications at every stage, starting from design to development and finally towards testing them in a production environment.

Business Owners: DAST is beneficial to business owners as well since you get regular reports on your app’s security status throughout the development process. You can also find and fix vulnerabilities before they’re exploited by attackers.

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IT Security Professionals: It is a must for IT security professionals as it helps in evaluating the security posture of an application under heavy load or actual usage. They can use this information to improve the overall security of their organisation’s applications.

What else should I know about it?

  • DAST is only one part of the larger application security testing process.
  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST) should be used in conjunction with Dynamic testing to get a more holistic view of the app’s security posture.
  • Dynamic testing is also helpful in identifying vulnerabilities that can’t be found using static analysis tools.
  • DAST is a process that should be continuous and needs to be performed at every stage of the software development life cycle.

Conclusion

Dynamic Application Security Testing is a must for all IT organisations as it helps you improve the security of your applications and identify vulnerabilities before hackers exploit them. It is a more efficient way of testing your application’s security, as it demonstrates how your application would behave under attack in a real-life scenario. It is beneficial to everyone in the organisation, including developers and quality assurance teams. It should be used at every stage of development to improve an app’s overall security posture. But don’t limit all your testing to just DAST. It should be used in conjunction with Static Application Security Testing to get a more holistic view of your application’s security posture.

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