What You Should Know About Dynamic Application Security Testing Tools

The dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools technique is one of the most important ways of ensuring web application security.

By Claudio Pires
Updated on October 19, 2023
What You Should Know About Dynamic Application Security Testing Tools

The dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools technique is one of the most important ways of ensuring web application security. It finds out about security issues by designing specific attack methods. In addition, studying the application’s response to see if it fits certain security standards. In this context, it’s important to use DAST testing tools which are also web application vulnerability scanners. 

DAST tools conduct security analysis from the outside of the application. These vulnerability assessments have no access to the application source code architecture and application security posture management can help a lot. This is what makes it most similar to the black box penetration testing method. 

How does the dynamic application security testing tool work?

The DAST vulnerability scanner usually has two components – the crawler and the detection components. The crawler aspect takes on the task of going through the application and discovering as many vulnerabilities as possible. Meanwhile, the detection aspect works on executing multiple requests against each URL being on the test. So, to evaluate the possibility of attack payloads. 

The vulnerability scanner begins its job with the scanning process on the home URL. By the crawler component going through multiple links for vulnerabilities. Since we’re beginning with the home URL. Pages that are not accessible through the home URL will be out of the security evaluation process. Manual intervention is on needs at this stage to ensure that all links are on the test. As a result, receiving a lot of details. 

Once the list is ready, the application security testing tools will be present to go through each link using multiple request formats; In order to detect vulnerabilities. For better success rates, it’s better to personalize the attack methods. According to the technologies in the system on the test. The entire process is time-consuming since different attack approaches need to be out. So, may even cause disruption of normal operations. 

The final stage of the DAST scanner will be the feedback process. Which involves detailing the kind of security vulnerability, a list of the affected URLs, and any other parameters involved in the testing procedure. Due to the external nature of the attack methods, there are usually no details involving the location of the security issue within the web application. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of dynamic application security testing?

The DAST methodology is a common technique under application security testing (AST) and is frequently for vulnerability assessment. Here are the benefits of the proper and regular implementation of the procedure:

  • Penetration testing nature – Manual penetration testing procedures should involve the DAST methodology since it can automate repetitive tasks including parameter fuzzing. Insertion of malicious payloads into the system. Tools such as Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, etc are usually present in this context. However, the skills of the pentester are also highly crucial at this stage as they’re responsible for designing the attack methods and using their experience to navigate the testing procedure. 
  • Not dependent on a specific platform – DAST tools can scan any application no matter the kind of technology present. Programming language, or its internal architecture. However, they should be able to discover the application, move around its system, log in, and collect the URLs to be on a test. Ideally, the DAST procedure must also be a custom work according to the particular technology present in the application. 

Here are some disadvantages associated with the DAST procedure:

  • Slow processing – Since the application security testing tools main feature is the scanning process, a thorough testing process can take a number of days to finish. This created difficulties for DevOps teams that push code frequently. The lack of quickness also means that any reports generated after the lengthy scanning process can become outdated by the time it’s available. 
  • Lack of proper coverage of security risks – The external attacking nature of the DAST methodology makes it difficult to identify the location of the discovered vulnerabilities and for any complex security risks. According to the OWASP Benchmark, the most efficient DAST tool approach is only able to find 18% of the security risks within an application. Some attack possibilities 
  • Lack of proper support – The DAST methodology is not well adapted for supporting DevSecOps practices since they take a long time for completion and the interpretation of the scan results may not be uniform. The DAST scanner is often restricted to known attack payloads and thus doesn’t investigate any new bypass schemes. It also doesn’t function well with modern technologies such as APIs, client-side MVC architectures, the JSON and the SOAP protocols. This often makes the use of application security testing tools in application security strategies impractical. 

When it comes to application security, the dynamic application security testing (DAST) approach is quite crucial to the entire process. Both firms and third-party service providers need to be aware of the nitty-gritty of the testing methodology so that the goals of the security testing process are met properly. 

Claudio Pires

Claudio Pires is the co-founder of Visualmodo, a renowned company in web development and design. With over 15 years of experience, Claudio has honed his skills in content creation, web development support, and senior web designer. A trilingual expert fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, he brings a global perspective to his work. Beyond his professional endeavors, Claudio is an active YouTuber, sharing his insights and expertise with a broader audience. Based in Brazil, Claudio continues to push the boundaries of web design and digital content, making him a pivotal figure in the industry.