Dast testing is a method of testing a lab’s cybersecurity that uses a simulated cyber attack. This method is often used by a pen tester to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s cybersecurity system.

Pen testing, on the other hand, is a method of testing a lab’s cybersecurity that uses a simulated cyber attack. This type of testing is used in order to find vulnerabilities in a lab’s systems and networks.

Here are some differences between the two methods that you should keep in mind the next time you’re looking for a lab cybersecurity solution.

What Is DAST Security Testing?

A Dynamic Application Security Test (DAST) is a black-box security testing methodology, where applications are tested from the outside. 

As a DAST tester, you examine an application while it is being run and try to hack it like a hacker would. As an alternative, static application security testing is a white-box testing method called static application security testing (SAST). 

Black box and DAST are often praised. Nevertheless, we cannot completely disregard white-box methods. Every successful security program should use both methodologies because each has its strengths and weaknesses. 

How Does DAST Work?

Through automated scanning, DAST identifies outcomes that are not expected to be included in an application. It simulates attacks from the outside to identify any malicious attacks. Injecting malicious data is an example of this to discover injection deficiencies. As well as testing all HTTP and HTML access points, DAST simulates random actions and user behaviors to detect vulnerabilities. 

Unlike a security scanner that looks at an application’s source code, DAST attacks an application from the outside, in order to find vulnerabilities. DAST does not analyze code, therefore it cannot point testers to specific lines of code when they find vulnerabilities.

When implementing DAST solutions, security experts are heavily relied upon. The tool needs to be fine-tuned by security experts or tested before it is useful. They must understand the way the application works and the way it is used to perform this task. DAST administrators must also understand web servers, application servers, databases, access control lists, application traffic flow, etc.

While DAST and penetration testing (or pen testing) may sound similar, there are several notable differences. This method offers systematic testing of running applications. In contrast, pen testing employs common hacking techniques with the owner’s permission and targets vulnerabilities beyond just the application, such as firewalls, ports, routers, and servers.

What Are The Benefits Of Using DAST?

As with most things, there are going to be both beneficial and not so beneficial features when it comes to using DAST. As the name implies, the dynamic testing focuses mainly on the active or runtime features of the application. We cover some of the ones we think are most important.

Memory usage

An application’s static analysis (SAST) cannot give information or test cases regarding how memory is used and managed within the application. 

While it will assist in the detection of the different parts of RAM that can be easily exploited in dynamic testing (DAST).  It will directly execute the payloads in memory while executing programs in databases or websites that use the DAST methodology.

This method can be used to check memory consumption since it will directly execute the payload on the CPU and RAM memory. DAST aids in testing whether a memory exploit is occurring or not this way. 

Encryption

As per the industry standards and many emerging federal regulations, your application must use encryption algorithms to protect the confidential or sensitive data that users submit and protect critical applications processes. 

Instead of analyzing the encryption algorithm used in DAST, the computation tests to see if it can break down the encryption technique, testing the potential impact to business operations if there is any compromise. 

The authentication mechanism also uses different encryption methods, as there are in APIs. DAST is a method of decryption used by attackers that are more focused on directly bypassing available encryption mechanisms. 

Authorization

It is possible to test if a user is granted access to different resources by dynamic testing or by using malicious code to interact with the application and gain access as a superuser on the rooted device. Using static testing, it is impossible to detect this security issue; however, dynamic testing helps detect it. 

A web application has a vulnerability that, on successful execution, allows an attacker to gain access to a more privileged user account. 

In such scenarios, DAST will prove helpful since it enables testing of the live web application, where SAST cannot be used, since it focuses on securing the web application’s source code. 

Performance

In the running state of an application, the performance of that application will be apparent. It is impossible to determine the resource consumption on CPU and RAM through static analysis; however, through dynamic testing, the resource consumption is determined which is later compared to the standard benchmark used by the industry. 

When executing different payloads in the database, you can determine how much CPU and RAM is consumed as a result of DAST methodology. As a result, the resource consumption can be easily monitored as it will execute the payload directly to CPU and RAM memory. 

What Are The Challenges Of DAST?

There are a few disadvantages of dynamic application security testing tools that should be considered.

Due to the fact that DAST can rely on security experts to create the appropriate test procedures, it is difficult to create a comprehensive test for every application. 

As well as that, DAST tools may mistake a valid element of an application for a threat, resulting in false-positive tests. An analyst’s task in determining whether DAST results are valid is complicated by false positives. Test reliability decreases as the false-positive rate rises.

DAST tools are also limited in that they can only indicate the existence of a problem rather than identify problems within the code itself. By itself, DAST may not be able to tell developers where to look for a solution. 

Also, DAST tools focus on requests and responses which can miss a fair bit of flaws hidden in the architectural design.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Through the use of dedicated tools and vulnerability databases, Pen Testing is carried out by security experts who try to mimic hackers. 

Due to the time and cost limitations, this rarely occurs due to the ability to customize the process. Due to this, there are a lot of False Negatives, making multiple testing cycles necessary.

Due to the fact that the application must be running for testing, the time constraints are severe for this security method. 

Thus, you have a very narrow window of opportunity to test the application’s robustness. It goes without saying that this methodology requires specialized staff to decipher the findings and provide developers with information.

How Are DAST And Pen Testing Different?

DAST is not the same as penetration testing. Security testing of dynamic applications is known as DAST. The testing is usually automated after the development phase is complete, and after the code has been fully implemented. 

An actual attacker may use various methods in penetration testing, which is done by humans. Since DAST generally runs continuously, it can assist in identifying issues as the code base is being updated. 

In most organizations, pen testing will often find things that DAST won’t find, since it’s only done once a year, which is why DAST and static testing SAST are necessary.

Which One Should You Choose?

While DAST can have its benefits, if you want to delve deeper into your network beyond just applications then penetration testing is the service you will most likely require. 

However if your organisation is heavily application based and the focus needs to be set onto that, then it’s probably more advisable to opt for DAST. They can both work well together and should be implemented as part of a security process.