As more and more businesses are moving their operations online, the need for robust security measures is becoming increasingly apparent. When it comes to web application security, detecting and preventing attacks is quite crucial. Lucky for us, the OWASP Foundation published a carefully curated list of the ten most frequent security risks seen in websites. They started this project back in 2004 and have been updating this list yearly ever since. Now the obvious question is, how to go about defending your website against such vulnerabilities. Enter dynamic application security testing (DAST). In this article, we’ll introduce you to DAST, its importance, and take a look at the common security concerns with web applications. We will also introduce you to six of the best DAST tools to protect against the top ten vulnerabilities.

What is DAST?

As the name suggests, this is a security testing methodology that uses automated tools to detect security vulnerabilities in web applications. It can be used as part of an overall security assessment or on its own. DAST is different from static analysis, which relies on manual inspection of the code. It is called “dynamic” since it is done at various stages of an application’s development lifecycle and can be used to find both known and unknown vulnerabilities.

Automated DAST vs. Manual DAST

Automated DAST:

Automated DAST is faster and more efficient. It can scan a large number of applications and identify vulnerabilities that may be difficult to find with manual testing. Do bear in mind that automated tools cannot find each and every flaw nor can they be 100% accurate.

Manual DAST:

However, manual testing is also important and should not be neglected. It can be used to supplement automated testing and to find vulnerabilities that may have been missed by the automated tools. While this approach can be more time-consuming, it can be more accurate.

Importance of DAST

  • It can be used to test applications that are in production
  • Automated tools can scan applications quickly and easily identify
  • vulnerabilities
  • Developers get to patch security flaws before the application gets deployed
  • It ensures security flaws are dealt with at each and every stage of the app’s development before beginning work on the next phase. This makes it easier to fix future bugs and saves up time in the long run.
  • DAST can also be used with other security testing methods

DAST is an important part of any web application security program. It can help identify vulnerabilities that other methods may fail to find. Additionally, DAST can be used to test applications regularly, which can help ensure that they are secure and up-to-date.

Security issues in web applications

One of the main reasons businesses are moving online is to take advantage of the potential for increased sales and revenue. However, as with any online operation, there is a risk of cyberattacks. and so, the security of a web application is especially important for businesses that rely on them to conduct their operations. Hackers are increasingly targeting web applications, as they are often an entry point into the network.

The OWASP top 10 security risks in web applications as of 2021:

  1. Broken Access Control: This occurs when an attacker is able to bypass the security measures in place and access resources that they should not have access to.
  2. Cryptographic Failures: This is when an attacker is able to decrypt or forge data by exploiting vulnerabilities in the cryptography used.
  3. Injection and Cross-Site Scripting: This is when an attacker inputs some malicious code into an application which is then executed by the user who is unaware of the manipulation.
  4. Insecure Design: This includes vulnerabilities that are introduced during the design phase of the application. These can be tricky to detect, and/or fix, so it could be a while before these flaws are discovered.
  5. Security Misconfiguration: This is when the security settings of an application are not properly configured, which can leave it open to attack.
  6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components: This is when the application uses components that are no longer supported or have known security vulnerabilities.
  7. Identification and Authentication Failures: This occurs when the authentication process is not properly implemented, which can allow attackers to gain access to the application.
  8. Software and Data Integrity Failures: This is when an attacker is able to modify or delete data in the application.
  9. Security Logging and Monitoring Failures: This is when the security logging and monitoring process is not implemented or is ineffective, which makes it difficult to detect attacks.
  10. Server-Side Request Forgery: This is a type of attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the server. It allows an attacker to inject illegitimate requests into the application, which are then executed by the server.

Web applications need to be tested for the OWASP top ten vulnerabilities. In no way are we implying that web applications cannot have other vulnerabilities. 

Top 6 DAST tools

  1. Astra Pentest: This tool was developed by Astra Security, a company that specialises in pentesting, security audits, blockchain/smart contract audit, compliance testing, cloud testing, and more. What’s more, is that security experts from Astra Security are available 24/7 to provide remote support. The Astra Pentest was designed to perform vulnerability assessments and pentesting with the OWASP top ten in mind. It comes with a neat, simple and interactive dashboard that displays real-time threat updates, risk scores and provides you with remediation tips for each vulnerability.
  2. Burp Suite: This is a popular tool that many security professionals turn to. It has a base version and a paid Pro version, both packing all the essential features one would need.
  3. Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP): This is a popular open-source tool. Its user interface is pretty easy to understand making it easy for experts as well as novices to perform scans. Performing a scan is as easy as entering the URL.
  4. HCL AppScan: This is another popular tool from IBM that offers a wide range of features, including the ability to scan mobile applications.
  5. Grendel-Scan: This tool is designed to find vulnerabilities and aid with manual pentesting. It was written in Java and allows integrations with the development process.
  6. WebInspect: This tool from HP offers a wide range of features, including the ability to scan for vulnerabilities in mobile applications.

Conclusion

No web application is immune from attack, so it is important to implement DAST as part of your security testing process. We listed the six best DAST tools that will help you detect the OWASP top ten vulnerabilities. But use this list wisely and remember to branch out in your testing. You should also use other tools and techniques to find all the vulnerabilities in your web application.

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