Both static application security testing (SAST) and dynamic application security testing (DAST) are methodologies used to test the security of application environments.
- DAST is a black-box security testing method that tests applications from the outside-in.
- SAST is a white-box security testing method that tests applications from the inside-out.
So, when cyber analysts are using SAST, they are pouring through the source code to determine any potential vulnerabilities. DAST, on the other hand, tests applications in their running state in an attempt to stress the applications exactly how a real-life attacker would. In short, DAST finds vulnerabilities in run-time, while SAST finds vulnerabilities in source code. These two different methods both have their strengths and weaknesses, which is why it’s best to use both for more thorough and accurate security.
A Clean Sweep for Code
SAST is fantastic at targeting source code, byte code, and binary vulnerabilities in environments across-the-board. It also finds weaknesses one line at a time before you launch the software, giving you the exact location of each vulnerability. Common vulnerabilities consist of:
- Numerical errors
- Input validation
- Race conditions
- Path traversals
- Pointers and references
SAST thrives in Sequential Design Process environments, real-time systems, mobile applications, and software on embedded devices. Remember: if you want your SAST scanner to be effective, ensure it supports the language for the web application framework; this includes PHP, Java, Python, and more. The scanner also needs support, in turn, from the framework.
A Full Framework Analysis
DAST handles the complicated aspects of app security, discovering weaknesses within the entire application framework, including:
- Web proxies
- Servers (AWS, Azure, physical, etc.)
- Databases (MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft, etc.)
- Caches (out-of-process, in-process)
Since DAST takes place in a running environment, all interconnected structures that exist outside of your source code are simultaneously being tested to expose vulnerabilities. Pinpointing misconfigurations between all app environments gives DevOps a deeper understanding of vulnerability particulars while also exposing potential threats outside-the-code. Because SAST doesn’t take an app’s entire external framework into consideration, DAST complements SAST’s work. DAST provides results in an HTTP request that can be replayed for verifiability. This combination of run-time testing and replayable results makes DAST incredibly accurate and dynamic enough to provide vulnerability repeatability.
A Two-Pronged Attack
DAST and SAST should both be implemented on two fronts, automated and manual. Services, like Orenda Security, provide automated and manual assessments for both methods of application security testing. Automated DAST assessments can give good overall coverage of app framework and perform basic attacks and stress patterns. At the same time, manual assessments can dive deep into hyper-specific attack patterns and attempt to leverage expert insights to perform complex attack patterns. This combination can uncover complex and simple vulnerabilities while ensuring that every known attack pattern is replicated thoroughly across app frameworks.
Note: Good SAST providers should also leverage automated solutions while still using SMEs to manually review code vulnerabilities.
SAST and DAST make for a dynamic duo by helping WebOps uncover vulnerabilities in applications. If you’re looking for security experts who provide thorough automatic and manual reviews of applications via SAST, DAST, and penetration testing, contact us now.