Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

What is Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)?

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a type of security testing method that analyzes a web application in its running state, typically from the outside in, to detect potential vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.

Unlike Static Application Security Testing (SAST), which analyzes source code or compiled versions of code, DAST tests the exposed interfaces and behavior of an application, looking for potential security flaws while the application is actively executing or operating.

DAST is often referred to as “black box” testing because it doesn’t require access to the underlying source code. It simulates attacks against a web application and analyzes the responses to identify vulnerabilities.

Common vulnerabilities that DAST tools look for include Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL Injection, and other issues defined by the OWASP Top 10.

DAST is generally used as part of a comprehensive application security program. It’s a powerful method for identifying real-world attack vectors, it can identify many potential security issues if they are exploitable through the application’s interfaces.

How is Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) performed?

DAST is performed while the application is running, thus simulating a real-world attack scenario. Here’s a generalized step-by-step process of how DAST is typically conducted:

  • Planning and Preparation — In this stage, you define the scope of the test, identify the areas of the application to be tested, and understand the functionalities of the application. This stage also involves setting up the DAST tools and environment.

  • Spidering/Crawling — Once the application is running, the DAST tool starts by ‘crawling’ or ‘spidering’ through the application. This process is similar to how search engine bots crawl websites. The tool follows links, maps out site structure, and analyzes different elements such as URLs, cookies, forms, and scripts present in the application.

  • Attack Simulation — After the application has been thoroughly mapped, the DAST tool starts to simulate attacks on the discovered entry points. It sends various malicious inputs or exploits to these points and observes the application’s responses.

  • Analysis — The DAST tool analyzes the application’s responses to the simulated attacks. If the application returns an error message, crashes, or behaves unusually in response to the malicious input, the tool flags the input as a potential vulnerability.

  • Reporting — Once the test is complete, the DAST tool generates a report detailing all the discovered vulnerabilities, along with information such as the location of the vulnerability, the potential impact, and suggested remediation steps.

  • Remediation — The final step involves taking action based on the report. This could include fixing the code, implementing security controls, and then retesting to verify that the vulnerabilities have been adequately addressed.

While DAST provides valuable insights into vulnerabilities that can be exploited at runtime, it’s generally recommended to use it in conjunction with other testing methods (like SAST) to achieve a more comprehensive view of application security. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses, and a multi-faceted approach can provide the most robust protection.

Why MCH is the right service provider to select for your DAST needs?

Selecting the right Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) service provider can be critical to the security of an organization’s applications. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Capability and Scope — The DAST tool employed by your service provider should be capable of testing the technologies and platforms your applications are built on. For example, some tools might specialize in testing web applications, while others might be more suited to mobile applications or APIs.  MCH has the tools for testing all these types of applications.

  • Reporting and Remediation Guidance — The tool should generate clear, understandable reports, providing actionable insights and guidance on how to remediate identified vulnerabilities.

  • Reputation and Reviews — Consider the provider’s reputation in the industry. Look for independent reviews and case studies. Ask for references if possible.

  • Pricing — Evaluate the pricing model and make sure it aligns with your budget. Consider both immediate and long-term costs.

Always keep your organization’s specific requirements and constraints in mind when selecting a DAST service provider.