Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a vital element of cybersecurity for any organisation that wants to protect itself from attacks. Since cybercriminals are always improving their skills and looking for vulnerabilities to exploit in web applications, DAST is a must-have in your organisation or business.
This automated security testing methodology allows you to investigate running web applications to detect any potential security vulnerabilities. By doing so, you get a head start against any cyber criminals who’ve been circling.
Today, you’ll better understand how DAST works, learn why it’s important, and discover some of the benefits of using it to secure your web applications.
How DAST Works
DAST operates by looking for vulnerabilities in your system. The DAST tool simulates an attack against your running application by sending a series of HTTP requests. It then analyses the responses it gets and looks for any weak spots that hackers and cybercriminals can exploit.
Some of the vulnerabilities the DAST tool looks for include cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and insecure authentication. The good thing about using a DAST tool for your web application security is that it runs on several applications across various platforms, such as Linux, Windows, and macOS. You can scan the entire web application you’re targeting or specific parts of it.
Another advantage of using Dynamic Application Security Testing is that you can apply it during the entire software development lifecycle. This means that you can use the DAST tool to search for vulnerabilities during production and after you’ve deployed the web application.
Once the Dynamic Application Security Testing tool finds security vulnerabilities, it illustrates how a hacker can use them to break into your system. You’ll then get automated alerts on how you can fix the crack in your
We recommend having your security and development teams handle Dynamic Application Security Testing because they can work hand-in-hand to fix any security issues while working on the web applications.
Importance of DAST in Web Application Security
DAST pretty much embodies the saying that prevention is better than cure. This web application security testing procedure allows you to spot weaknesses in your web applications before a cybercriminal can exploit them.
This saves your organisation lots of time and money that would have been used to pay off hackers or mend the damage caused by cybercriminals. The last thing you need is a cyber criminal stealing personal user data or disrupting normal operations.
Let’s now look at some of the benefits your business will gain from using a good DAST tool.
Benefits of DAST
1. Proactive Security Testing
Proactive security testing means that by using a DAST tool, your organisation is able to identify security vulnerabilities in web applications before cybercriminals find them. This strengthens the security measures around your company and reduces the chances of ransomware and other cyberattacks.
When your organisation is not worried about securing its systems or keeping cyber criminals at bay, your employees can focus on increasing their productivity and scaling the business.
In addition to increased employee focus, using DAST to secure your web applications means that your applications will rarely be down. Operations will continue smoothly, and your customers will keep coming back and increasing.
3. Automated Testing
Because Dynamic Application Security Testing is an automatic process, your security team can ensure that the process runs concurrently with the web development process. This means that they won’t have to manually do it themselves.
This frees them and allows them to focus on preventing other security risks in your system. This will then ensure that your business runs smoothly without any interruptions by unauthorised parties.
Dynamic Application Security Testing allows your business or organisation to comply with several industry regulations, including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). These are security standards that ensure organisations have a secure environment to accept, store, process and transmit credit card information.
5. Seamless Integration with other Workflows
DAST enables you to continually identify security vulnerabilities in your web applications while they are in production and after they are released to the public.
Integrating DAST with the development and testing teams ensures that no security vulnerability goes unnoticed even before you go to market. This provides extra protection.
How to Effectively Use DAST
Here are some tips to get the most out of your Dynamic Application Security Testing.
1. Integrate DAST Early and Often
The thing to understand when using the DAST methodology is that early is always best, and it’s an ongoing process. Always remember that hackers and cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate your web application and get what they want.
Therefore, web security application testing should always be a constant priority. This will save you from spending lots of time and money afterwards to repair the damage done by successful web application attacks.
Maximize the opportunity you get with dynamic security testing to capture and fix common security vulnerabilities before you launch your web application and after.
2. Collaborate with the Web Application Development Team
This point goes hand in hand with the one above about integrating DAST early on. Collaboration with your DevOps team will allow you to fix vulnerabilities early on during your web application security testing process and enable you to pivot if you need to.
Once your testing team finds vulnerabilities in the web application, they should pass on this information to the DevOps team to make the necessary changes.
3. Use DAST Within A Comprehensive Approach
Although a DAST tool can give you effective insight into protecting the security of your web application, it’s best used in conjunction with other strategies, such as Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and penetration tests. We’ll look at these two security testing methodologies in the next chapter.
All in all, you want to ensure that no hackers can get into your system, no matter how advanced their technology is. To do this, you’ll need to use a comprehensive approach to securing your web applications.
Speaking of a comprehensive approach, let’s look at other security testing methodologies you can use alongside DAST.
Notable Security Testing Methodologies
1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
SAST is all about going to the root and analyzing the source code of your web application. This type of security testing is best performed during the web development process and will allow you or your team to spot any vulnerabilities in the application.
2. Penetration Testing
You can think of this testing methodology as a kind of drill. Your team of security experts will simulate an attack against your application with the aim of identifying vulnerabilities.
Once the vulnerabilities are identified, you or the team in charge can pass them along to the DevOps team to make the necessary changes and offer extra protection.
3. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)
IAST is a combination of DAST and SAST elements. When you combine the components of these two security testing methods, you’re able to analyse the source code of your application while it’s still running.
Although these other security testing methodologies are effective, DAST still takes the lead because it allows you to spot vulnerabilities while your application is running. It basically takes you into the mind of a hacker and allows you to find which doors they can use to attack you.
This information then allows you to increase your security and keep cyber criminals out. Check out our guide on cyber security testing and assessments for more information on security tests.
DAST is an effective security testing methodology you can use to find vulnerabilities in your application. The advantage that DAST has over other methods used to identify vulnerabilities is that it does so while your web application is running.
You can use your DAST tool to simulate an attack against your application and discover vulnerabilities you wouldn’t know about if you just looked at the source code. If you are unsure about how to go about using these testing tools, you can also choose to outsource cybersecurity services.