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Hafsa April 30, 2024 0 Comments

What Is Application Security Testing (AST)?

Application Security Testing, abbreviated AST, is the systematic process of assessing software applications to uncover and rectify security vulnerabilities. The security testing process involves tests, analyses, and reports that offer information about the security level of a software program. AST checks whether the software is vulnerable to cyber attacks or suspicious operations. Security testing proves that systems and information are safe and reliable. Organizations should apply the AST process to any software development lifecycle phase (SDLC). 

In this blog, you will learn about AST and its types.

Types of AST:

Applications are the crown jewels of any organization. They store sensitive data, power critical operations, and connect us to the world. But with great functionality comes excellent responsibility – securing these applications from ever-evolving cyber threats.

It is where application security testing (AST) comes in. AST is a comprehensive approach to identifying and mitigating application vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them. 

For example, Imagine your application is a castle. Application security testing is like having a royal guard with different specialties. One checks the blueprints (SAST), another tests the walls (DAST), and another even guards the king while he travels (IAST). Together, they ensure your castle (and your data) stays safe!

Let’s delve into the various types of application security testing, shedding light on their unique methodologies, advantages, and limitations.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST):

SAST is a type of white-box testing that examines at-rest source code. SAST tools hunt for vulnerabilities in source code that external parties can attack. It identifies coding errors and weaknesses in the early stages of development. A SAST scan may uncover typical security vulnerabilities, including input validation issues, stack buffer overflows, and SQL injection. 

SAST is like having a diligent detective analyze your code before it goes live. It’s a type of security testing that examines an application’s source or binary code without executing it. SAST tools scan the code line by line, looking for potential vulnerabilities, security flaws, and coding errors that attackers could exploit. 

Shortcomings Of SAST:

While SAST excels at finding code-level vulnerabilities early on, it has drawbacks. SAST can overwhelm developers with false positives, wasting time on non-critical issues. Its focus on static code analysis also means it misses runtime vulnerabilities or those arising from complex integrations. SAST, used with other application security testing tools, provides a well-rounded security posture.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST):

DAST focuses on handling external attacks on a running application; it is a form of black-box testing. DAST tools send a barrage of malicious requests to the application, checking how it responds and identifying potential weaknesses, such as injection flaws, authentication issues, and insecure configurations. 

DAST searches for vulnerabilities and attacks in exposed interfaces and fetches solutions to penetrate applications from outside by looking for cyber attacks.

In SAST vs. DAST, SAST involves analyzing code without running it, focusing on early development vulnerabilities, while DAST tests the running application by simulating actual attacks. SAST is deep but prone to false positives, while DAST is real-world but may miss code-level issues. Combining both offers comprehensive security coverage.

Shortcomings Of DAST:

DAST has some drawbacks. It can generate false positives, wasting time investigating non-issues. DAST tools also struggle with complex applications and may miss vulnerabilities requiring specific actions to trigger. They can’t see the underlying code, so they provide limited guidance on how to fix problems. Additionally, DAST scans can be time-consuming, potentially delaying development.

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST):

IAST combines the qualities of SAST (static testing) and DAST (dynamic testing) to analyze code for vulnerabilities while the application is running. IAST can quickly scan your application’s source code in a dynamic environment. You can input this test in the QA environment or in real-time when the application runs. 

Moreover, you can integrate IAST into your continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD). Unlike DAST, IAST integrates with existing tests, avoiding the need to rewrite scripts and saving development teams valuable time. It will make IAST an attractive option for organizations seeking to build secure applications efficiently.

Shortcomings Of IAST:

IAST provides real-time monitoring for vulnerabilities but faces limitations. It may introduce performance overhead and compatibility issues due to its reliance on instrumentation within the application. Additionally, depending on the quality of the instrumentation, it may only partially cover certain areas or types of vulnerabilities. Nonetheless, when used with other application security testing tools, IAST remains beneficial for bolstering application security.

Software Composition Analysis (SCA):

SCA is like a security check-up for your code’s ingredients. It scans your application to identify all the open-source components used. Then, it checks these components for known security vulnerabilities and license compliance issues. SCA helps developers fix security problems and avoid legal pitfalls, making SCA a valuable tool for building secure and reliable software.

Shortcomings Of SCA:

SCA is limited by reliance on vulnerability databases, may overlook custom code vulnerabilities, and can generate excessive alerts, leading to challenges in prioritization and alert fatigue.

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP):

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is like having a security guard stationed inside your application, ready to defend it against attacks in real-time. It’s a security technology integrated directly into an application’s runtime environment, continuously monitoring and protecting the application as it executes. 

RASP analyzes the application’s behavior and traffic patterns, detecting and mitigating potential security threats such as code injection, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting attacks. Unlike traditional security measures relying on external devices or network perimeter defenses, RASP operates in the application.

Shortcomings Of RASP:

RASP offers strong protection but isn’t a silver bullet. While it excels at known threats, zero-day attacks can slip through. RASP can also misfire, flagging everyday actions as threats or missing actual attacks. Additionally, it can slow down applications and may not work seamlessly with older systems or some mobile platforms. 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, understanding and implementing Application Security Testing (AST) is imperative in safeguarding your digital assets against cyber threats. With an array of AST solutions available, including Static, Dynamic, Interactive, Software, and Runtime Application Security Testing, businesses can proactively fortify their software systems. By embracing AST, you prioritize security, enhance customer trust, and uphold your brand’s reputation as a reliable and secure entity. TRIOTECH SYSTEMS can help you with any Application Security services, whether testing, security, or anything else. If you want to learn more about our Application Security or any other services or prices, email [email protected] or call +1 403437-9549.

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