In the quest to shift security left, it’s easy to lose track of security once your app goes live. But with cyber threats increasingly targeting live websites and apps, can businesses really afford to make post-production the end of the road for security testing?
Half of security professionals admit that developers fail to identify 75% of security vulnerabilities. When such vulnerabilities make it to the production stage - a purely reactive, ad-hoc approach to security is likely to install panic among dev and security teams - and be a painfully inefficient way to address issues without causing business disruption.
Enter DAST - a dynamic approach to security testing that analyzes apps in runtime, ensuring no gaps are left unattended. There are countless DAST tools available, but the last thing you need is to add yet another solution to your toolchain without understanding how it fits your DevOps team’s needs and integrates into your current stack.
To give you a helping hand, we list the top 10 DAST tools for 2024 in this article, including their unique features and best use cases. But first, let’s explore DAST and what you should expect from these tools.
Unlike SAST testing, which analyzes the application’s source code and related dependencies, DAST analyzes apps from the "outside-in" by simulating attacks on the application. This “black box” testing method interacts with the running application without accessing its source code, mimicking how an attacker would interact with the app in a real-life scenario.
It sends automated requests and payloads to the application (similar to what a malicious attacker would do). Then, it analyzes the app’s behavior and responses, looking for misconfigurations and vulnerabilities that may lead to attacks such as SQL injections and cross-site scripting (XSS).
Once vulnerabilities are found, DAST tools report their findings, which typically include a detailed overview of the vulnerability type, severity, and location to help developers address issues faster. Because this type of testing doesn’t access the source code, it is most suitable for testing apps already in production. However, it can be used across various stages of the SSDLC, depending on business needs.
Adding other types of testing, such as SAST and SCA, can bolster the effectiveness of DAST testing. For instance, SCA security tools work like specialized static security testing, looking specifically into the system’s connected open-source libraries and frameworks. The more layered approach you can take to security testing - the more protected your apps are.
You can’t cut corners when implementing DAST into your security toolchain. A good DAST tool should offer complete coverage - scanning all exposed application interfaces for vulnerabilities. Ideally, to get you from a reactive to a proactive stage, you should also be able to automate the tool for continuous scanning. This allows you to be constantly in the know, catching and resolving vulnerabilities as they arise.
Ensure that your DAST tool can integrate seamlessly into your existing DevOps pipeline to help streamline your security testing process. DevSecOps platforms like Jit consolidate your security plan so you can automate and manage all your security tools and controls into one platform.
Then comes the findings and reporting stage. Here, your DAST tool must provide real-time insights into the status of your applications, as well as detailed reports and remediation suggestions, so you know which vulnerabilities to prioritize and can automate an effective risk mitigation workflow that won’t cause disruption or operational overhead. With Jit, all your repos can easily be monitored, with appropriate security tools invoked to provide relevant alerts for any red flags.
And speaking of red flags that aren’t actually as red as they seem (a.k.a. false positives), ensure that your DAST tool is comprehensive enough to minimize false positives, providing you only with accurate and actionable alerts.
OWASP ZAP is a free and open-source tool actively maintained by a dedicated international team of volunteers. It provides features like active scanning, alerts, anti-CSRF tokens, authentication methods, breakpoints, and passive scanning.
It suits any web app developer or security team that wants to perform security testing on their web applications. Jit can seamlessly integrate with OWASP ZAP to automate DAST testing in your CI/CD.
"Owasp zap proxy is the best recon and penetration testing tool, which contains all things from manual testing to automation testing. For me especially, automatic testing is the best with Ajax Spider, and active scanning performs all the vulnerability tests, which is really good."
While not specifically a DAST tool, Jit is a DevSecOps platform that orchestrates DAST tools such as OWASP ZAP and other security testing tools such as SAST and SCA across your CI/CD pipeline. It enables DevOps-oriented teams to establish and automate a security plan, making it easier to implement and manage security controls across the entire SSDLC. Jit users also get real-time remediation suggestions and enriched findings based on reports from other tools in a single dashboard.
It’s best suited for DevOps teams looking to automate their security workflows and integrate them into their CI/CD pipelines.
“I love the notion of Jit providing as-code security plans, which are minimal and viable. The fact that Jit also automates the selection of relevant security tools and unifies the experience around them is super valuable.”
Veracode is a comprehensive cloud-native platform that reduces risk across all modern software components, from proprietary code to APIs and Infrastructure as Code. It can scan hundreds of web apps and APIs simultaneously, providing accurate alerts that developers can delve into in its dashboard.
It’s best suited for large-scale enterprises looking to secure every development phase for every application.
"Easy to set scans to monitor risks on applications. Informative dashboards to help monitor remediations."
Checkmarx’s significant features include real-time analysis, which evaluates running apps, and timely alerts that might arise due to recent changes in the code base. It can also be integrated into existing development and security workflows.
It’s best suited for organizations integrating security testing into their development process.
“The most valuable features are the easy-to-understand interface and it's very user-friendly. Reduce the code using cxsast plugin. It will scan code line by line and find most of the vulnerabilities. Very easy to use. Vulnerability report is awesome.”
Although not specifically a DAST tool, as part of Cloud Guard, Spectral offers DAST testing. Driven by AI, this can strengthen your security posture and mitigate risks by making it easy for developers to uncover blindspots and detect issues as early as the pre-commit stage.
It’s best suited for organizations leveraging AI-driven models and tools for on-chain risk solutions and those needing DAST testing as part of their security measures.
“We've solved the issue of having zero visibility into our ADO environment with SpectralOps. It integrates easily into ADO, allowing us to track down exposures we previously had no knowledge about.”
Acunetix provides dynamic application security testing against various web application attacks to identify vulnerabilities and assess their behavior. It features a fully automated crawler that can crawl complex custom HTML5 websites and web applications, including client-side single-page applications (SPAs), making it easier to implement zero-trust security.
Acunetix fits organizations looking to integrate security testing into their development process.
"It assists in identifying and repairing website flaws, reducing the likelihood of attacks and data theft. The scanning tool is extremely intelligent and can identify even the most complex security issues."
AppCheck offers in-depth automated testing for ad-hoc, scheduled, and continuous security testing. It provides full OWASP vulnerability coverage, including injection, XSS, RCE, zero days, plus 100,000+ known security flaws.
AppCheck is best suited for organizations that require robust and comprehensive security testing integrated into their development process.
"We used to have a manual pen test, used the free trial to compare, and AppCheck blew it out of the water. Then it occurred to me that manual testers just use automated tools anyway, so why not save time and cost.”
Intruder’s web app vulnerability scanner crawls through a site or app, looking for vulnerabilities and security flaws. This solution lets you assess your risk level and helps you prioritize remediation efforts based on the severity of detected vulnerabilities.
Intruder works best for organizations that want a user-friendly platform for managing attack surfaces and automating vulnerability scanning processes.
"This platform enables my team not to waste time testing against known vulnerabilities and focus on hardening our services and solutions. Intruder also provides a huge benefit in proactive Change detection, where it will advise when new instances or hosts are detected and any vulnerabilities it may have, allowing for more agile change management.”
SOOS SCA + DAST combines SCA and DAST in one platform. You can simultaneously use the features of SCA - such as finding and fixing open-source vulnerabilities - and DAST, which scans your web apps and APIs based on OpenAPI, SOAP, or GraphQL standards. The combined dashboard makes continuous monitoring, license issues, and policy violations accessible in a single interface.
It is best suited for organizations that require both Software Composition Analysis (SCA) and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) in one platform.
"With the integration we have in our pipelines, the ability to provide continuous assessment of software security as changes are made to the application and new dependencies are added has been very useful. Additionally, SOOS has been of great importance for our certification processes (Hitrust, SOC2).”
Detectify is a cloud-based EASM platform specializing in surface monitoring and application scanning. The automated discovery and continuous monitoring features help DevSecOps teams discover and remedy vulnerabilities easily integrated into Slack, Jira, and Splunk workflow tools.
Detectify is best suited for organizations that want a user-friendly platform for managing attack surfaces and automating vulnerability scanning processes.
"From the discoveries of new subjects, and for the ease of use, I also really like the integration of notifications and detailing the vulnerabilities and how to perform their corrections."
DAST tools support a proactive approach to identifying vulnerabilities, ensuring that web applications can withstand increasingly complex and dangerous cyberattacks. While essential to production environments, they are just one piece of the puzzle - and must be added to an end-to-end security plan and toolkit that covers each stage of your SDLC.
If you want to combine development, security, and operations seamlessly, Jit can weave security checks into your CI/CD process, making security more comprehensive and automated than ever. Start for free here.