Interactive Application Security Testing : Things to know

Vulnerabilities in web application are the major cause for security breaches and are being treated as a pain by enterprises. Continuous monitoring of web applications is a hectic process, as the organizations are adopting agile delivery to face the business challenges. Traditional DAST and SAST are widely known technologies which make it easier to perform web application security assessments.

DAST(Dynamic Application Security Testing) method works by testing the application from outside when the application is running. It tries to explore the exposed surface of the web application when it is in production or testing environment. DAST is good at finding the visible vulnerabilities just by feeding the URL to an automated scanner. Apart from the advantages like high scalability, easy integration and rapid nature, DAST also has its own downsides like it requires experts to configure and run the scan i.e. it requires experts to use the tool efficiently. Another biggest problem with DAST is its inability to validate the findings, resulting in false positives and false negatives.

SAST(Static Application Security Testing) method tests the application from inside out by analyzing the source code or byte code of the application for the indications of security vulnerabilities. It is the most reliable method of testing as it sometimes finds the most critical vulnerabilities before the application is launched and made available to the users, making the code stronger and secure. Unlike DAST, it shows the exact location of the issue and thereby reduces the number of false positives. But SAST has its own drawbacks like the implementation of SAST in SDLC and need of access to source code of the application. Sometimes its inability to test the application logic, third party code and improper configuration makes SAST fail to prove its efficiency.

Some vulnerabilities can be found only by using DAST approach and some by using SAST approach. From the business perspective, if both DAST and SAST work together forms a strong and comprehensive application security testing. But the cost factor leaves organization to use any one of the testing methods based on their business needs.

IAST(Interactive Application Security Testing) has emerged as a solution for modern mobile and web application security testing. The design of IAST takes the strengths and advantages of both DAST and SAST to improve the application security testing to get better results. The combination of DAST and SAST gives the broadest view of the application security vulnerabilities in real time environment.

Below are some of the features of IAST:

  • IAST technology enables an automated process to ensure the detection of vulnerabilities during the development phase of the application.

  • It works like a debugger to predict the code execution in the memory and their associated process to determine the events which may lead to the vulnerability.

  • It provides the precise location of the issue by analyzing the application in run time and tracks the relevant source code.

  • It even analyzes the framework and third party codes on the fly and locates the issue.

  • It is easy to integrate IAST to the development environments which covers the complete code to give broader visibility for vulnerabilities.

  • Interactive testing approach provides greater accuracy, instant finding and faster results than DAST and SAST approaches.

  • It also reduces the time spent for configuration, integration etc and eliminates the need for expertise to use the tool.

  • It works in a simple and better way.

Authored by Saravanan M

TCS Enterprise Security and Risk Management

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