dynamic application security testing (DAST)

min read

What is DAST?

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a method of cyber security testing in which a running application, such as a web application or API, is actively tested and probed using real traffic and requests. This type of testing evaluates the application from the “outside in” by attacking the application like an attacker would, to find any security vulnerabilities.

What’s the difference between SAST vs DAST?

DAST contrasts with Static Application Security Testing (SAST), which performs “offline” analysis from the inside. SAST scans the original source code, while DAST scans the actual application itself, which should include any APIs or web services your application connects to.

As such, SAST is done earlier in the software development lifecycle shortly after code is written, while DAST is conducted later in the development lifecycle once there’s a working application running in a test environment, or even on production code.

How do DAST scanners work?

Often referred to as ‘black box testing’ DAST tools don’t have direct access to server-side code, and will attempt to identify potential vulnerabilities within the application using the same methods and access an attacker would – by using the public front-end.

DAST mirrors the way that a penetration tester would approach an attack, in that first it identifies injection points (paths or pages that are designed to receive and process data – such as HTML forms or front-end JavaScript) and then sends payloads (crafted sets of data designed to permit malicious behavior) to an application, before analyzing the response.

DAST scanners can also look for vulnerabilities behind login pages, otherwise known as 'authenticated vulnerability scanning'.

Why is dynamic application security testing important?

While web applications underpin most business processes today and undoubtedly drive growth and streamline operations, they can often include vulnerabilities that could lead to a damaging and costly breach if they’re not found and fixed quickly.

This is where DAST tools come in, as part of a more dynamic and proactive approach to app development. DAST tools show how your applications behave in production, so you can fix potential vulnerabilities before a hacker uses them to stage an attack.

And as your applications evolve, DAST tools continue to scan them so that you can find and fix problems faster, before they can develop into serious risks.

How to choose a DAST tool

A DAST tool should provide actionable reports including details about vulnerabilities, their severity, and remediation steps. These reports should be easy to understand, even for non-technical stakeholders. They should provide a clear understanding of the security posture of the application and provide actionable advice on how to fix any vulnerabilities.

The tool should minimize false positives and negatives, ensuring that the security team can trust the results and prioritize effectively. High accuracy in scans reduces the time spent on manual verification of detected issues.

The ability of a DAST tool to integrate with other tools in your SDLC is also important. Integrations enhance the functionality of your DAST tool and streamline the vulnerability management process. Your DAST tool should integrate with your CI/CD pipeline, bug tracking systems, alerting systems, and other security tools.

Take a tour of Intruder's DAST solution with our interactive demo below.

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‍Intruder's dynamic application security testing tool makes it easy to continuously find vulnerabilities in web applications and APIs. You can integrate it with your CI/CD pipeline to identify vulnerabilities before they go into production, send evidence of your scans for compliance in just one click, and much more. Try it for free for 14 days.

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