Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a type of security testing that examines web applications and APIs by simulating real-world attacks. It is used to identify security vulnerabilities in applications in real-time. DAST is often used as part of a larger security testing strategy that includes other testing techniques such as static analysis, penetration testing, and threat modeling.
DAST works by sending various HTTP requests to the application under test, analyzing the responses, and detecting potential security flaws. These requests may include attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in the application, such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. DAST tools can identify security flaws in web applications that are not easily detectable using other testing methods.
Examples of DAST Tools
There are many DAST tools available, both commercial and open-source. Here are some popular examples:
- OWASP ZAP: OWASP ZAP is a free, open-source tool that can be used to perform DAST on web applications. It has a wide range of features, including automated scanning, active and passive scanning, and a REST API for integration with other tools.
- Acunetix: Acunetix is a commercial DAST tool that can be used to scan web applications for vulnerabilities. It has a comprehensive list of features, including an easy-to-use interface, automated scanning, and a large database of vulnerabilities.
- Burp Suite: Burp Suite is a popular DAST tool used by many security professionals. It has a wide range of features, including active and passive scanning, automated scanning, and the ability to intercept and modify HTTP requests and responses.
- IBM Security AppScan: IBM Security AppScan is a commercial DAST tool that can be used to scan web applications for vulnerabilities. It has a range of features, including automated scanning, a large database of vulnerabilities, and integration with other security tools.
DAST in Action
Let’s take a look at how DAST works in practice. Here is a sample scenario:
Suppose you are a security tester and you have been asked to perform DAST on a web application that allows users to upload and view images. You start by configuring your DAST tool to scan the application.
The DAST tool sends various HTTP requests to the application and analyzes the responses. It discovers that the application is vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. This vulnerability allows an attacker to inject malicious SQL code into the application and gain unauthorized access to the database.
To exploit the vulnerability, you craft a special HTTP request that includes a SQL injection payload. You send the request to the application and analyze the response. You discover that the application is indeed vulnerable to SQL injection attacks and that the payload you sent was successful in extracting sensitive data from the database.
You report the vulnerability to the development team, and they fix it by sanitizing the input and using prepared statements to prevent SQL injection attacks.
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is an essential part of any security testing strategy. It allows security testers to identify security vulnerabilities in web applications and APIs in real-time. By using DAST tools, testers can simulate real-world attacks and discover vulnerabilities that may not be easily detectable using other testing methods. DAST is an important tool in the fight against cybercrime, and it should be included in any comprehensive security testing plan.