Innovation needs speed. Continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuously rising demand for development velocity - for developers, they all translate into continuous labor. Under such conditions, it’s no wonder some corners are rounded, if not cut altogether. Application security is one such corner.
The gap between security teams, developers, and the goals set by the C-suite often lead to security being an afterthought in the application delivery chain. But priorities are clearly shifting: 52% organizations plan to increase their IT spending in 2023, focusing strongly on cybersecurity. And the even better news is: with proper security testing in place, you don’t have to slow down delivery.
Two of the most common testing technologies used in the CI/CD pipeline to keep rogue code and vulnerabilities out of applications are Static Application Security Testing (SAST) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST). In this article, we’ll review and compare both types of application security testing.
Spoiler alert! After reading this post, you likely won’t have to choose between SAST and DAST.
Static application security testing (SAST) is a white-box automated testing technique that scans and analyzes application source code and related dependencies (frameworks and libraries) for various security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include (but are not limited to) XSS-based attacks, SQL injections, buffer overflows, keys and passwords embedded in the source code, XML external entity (XXE) attacks, and other OWASP Top 10 security risks.
SAST tools are automated and set to run early in the CI/CD pipeline, executed whenever code is committed to a source code repository (usually Git). They provide immediate and clear insights on potential vulnerabilities that may have been introduced into the code along the development process.
Since SAST is employed early in the SDLC to detect vulnerabilities and coding errors before applications are compiled, it’s considered one of the most widely adopted testing methodologies in development teams shifting left security and implementing DevSecOps principles.
To make it really simple, Dynamic application security testing (DAST) is the opposite of SAST. A black-box technique, DAST entails testing the behavior of running applications from the point of view of an attacker. Also called behavioral testing or “fuzzing,” DAST tools can help developers discover potential vulnerabilities to malicious attacks beyond the source code.
DAST tools scan more of an application's cyber attack surface, including API endpoints, web services, and elements of the application's cloud infrastructure or host system that may be susceptible to compromise.
DAST tools test the application against vulnerability sources like the OWASP Top 10 or SANS/CWE 25 to uncover runtime vulnerabilities before the application is pushed to production. Implemented later in the CI/CD pipeline build phase, DAST requires some interaction from the tester to preconfigure testing parameters before the tests can be executed automatically.
If you’ve read this far, you probably understand the spoiler in the introduction. To build a robust and scalable application security testing strategy, you must employ both SAST and DAST in your pipeline. In fact, you’ll probably need SCA (software composition analysis) and IAST (interactive application security testing), depending on your application, its life stage, and its intended end-users. It’s not really a question of which you should employ, but rather the question of when you should use SAST or DAST in your SDLC.
Some of the main challenges with DAST and SAST are configuring and maintaining them as your application and its potential vulnerabilities scale and grow. With Jit, you get a complete Minimal Viable Security package that covers precisely what you need and doesn't waste resources on things you don’t. Jit integrates with powerful DAST and SAST tools, some of which are mentioned in this article, such as Semgrep, Bandit, Legitify, and OVS-scanner, to deliver a complete DevSecOps toolchain across IDE-Code-Pipeline-Cloud and Runtime.
Start free today and discover how Jit can streamline your DevSecOps processes and enable your developers to effortlessly dot the i’s and cross the t’s of modern application security.