What Is DAST—And Where It Fits Into Your Web App Development
Some of the best tools for web application security are automated. DAST is an approach to testing that provides you with vital Information about your application security by exposing it to software-based attacks. You can think about this as having an automated hacker tell you everything you need to know about your application’s vulnerabilities.
DAST tests common weak points and helps to reduce the risks posed by human error. It’s a core part of web application security that even the most streamlined web applications should know.
Here’s why every web dev team needs to know the basics of DAST.
What is DAST
DAST stands for Dynamic Application Security Testing. These tests look at active run-time environments from the front-end of your application. One way to think about DAST is that it gives you a “hacker’s eye view” of your web app.
DAST is an approach to web application security testing that gives you a clear picture of front-end security flaws in your app. DAST discovers these security flaws by testing your web app with simulated attacks. DAST is often considered “black-box” testing because it approaches your app from the outside.
These tests are conducted by automated programs which are overseen by web app security experts. This automation allows your dev team to uncover common vulnerabilities in your application without having to manually check each potential attack vector.
The Advantages of DAST for Web Applications
DAST comes with some major advantages.
These tests are automated which allows them to quickly identify common vulnerabilities in your web application. DAST checks for today’s biggest application security threats by mimicking common attacks that hacker use such as injection and cross-site scripting. This makes DAST an invaluable tool for teams looking to move towards DevSecOps.
DAST can also be conducted before your application goes live. This allows you to check for potential security vulnerabilities before real world customer data can be put at risk. DAST is also an active approach to web application security which means it can be built into your development cycle.
Pros of DAST
- Operates without access to your application’s source code or back-end
- Checks for the most common threats
- Gives your team a fresh perspective through black-box testing
Cons of DAST
- Does not provide granular information on vulnerabilities in your code
- DAST identifies vulnerabilities, but does not identify causes
- Building DAST into your dev environment can be time-consuming
A Quick Guide to What DAST Tools Look For
DAST tools are automated programs that perform security tests on your application and generate reports based on those tests. These tools emulate common attacks that hackers utilize to jeopardize your application. DAST’s strength comes, in part, from putting your application up against the real threats it will face once it goes live.
- SQL and Other Injection Risks
- Cross-Site Scripting
- Data Breaches
- Other Public-Facing Vulnerabilities
Why DAST is Important for Developers
One of the best ways to prevent a security breach in your web application is to build in redundancies. DAST is an important security tool because it allows you to have an objective test that stresses your application’s weak points.
Your internal security team does great work on your application, but they still leave you vulnerable to human error. DAST provides a second layer of security and protection by running automated tests on your web application’s public-facing threat vectors. This is a fast and efficient way to ensure that your application will be more resistant to security breaches once it goes live.
Research shows that security breaches for web applications have only increased in recent years. A data breach can cost your business money as well as damage your company’s reputation. DAST allows you to strengthen your web application security and mitigate these risks in advance.
How to Implement DAST for Your Web App
You can implement DAST at any stage of your application’s development. In fact, building DAST into your overall development cycle gives you a clear picture of the security risks your web application faces.
DAST is also vital for continuous development environments. The more fluid and changing your web application becomes, the greater the importance of running DAST. The information provided by these tests is vital when it comes to building secure web applications.