Due to the rise in cyberattacks, choosing the best strategy to defend your applications has never been more daunting. IBM's report shows that the consequences of a cybersecurity breach can be catastrophic, with the average cost of a data breach reaching $4.24 million in 2021. This is not a small number. It shows why application security testing is an essential component of any organization's strategy for safeguarding its systems and data against online threats of any kind. Two of the widely used approaches for application security testing are: Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) and Penetration Testing.
In this blog, we will delve into the distinctions between Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) and Penetration Testing, as well as their relative uses and benefits. Additionally, we will showcase real-world instances of companies that have effectively leveraged DAST and Penetration Testing. But first, let us briefly understand what both Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) and Penetration Testing really are.
Understanding DAST and Penetration Testing
Dynamic Application Security Testing or DAST is an automated approach, that helps simulate attacks on web-based applications to identify vulnerabilities. It is a black box testing technique that doesn't need access to the application's source code. DAST works by sending requests to the application and analyzing the responses to identify vulnerabilities.
Penetration testing, also known as Pen testing, is a more manual approach that involves skilled security professionals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and networks. It is a white box testing technique that requires access to the application's source code. According to reports, over 70% of companies do penetration tests for their vulnerability assessment programs, 69% for assessing security posture, and 67% for achieving compliance.
Differences Between DAST and Penetration Testing
DAST vs Pen Testing. How are they different? It is important to know how these two methodologies differ from each other to make the right choice.
DAST and Penetration Testing have some significant differences. Main difference to consider is the level of automation. DAST is an automated approach that requires minimal human intervention, while Penetration Testing is a manual approach that requires trained security experts to perform the testing.
Another difference is the scope of testing. DAST offers a comprehensive approach to security testing, as it identifies known security vulnerabilities in very little time and with very low human intervention. Penetration Testing, on the other hand, is a more targeted approach that focuses on specific vulnerabilities in systems and networks.
DAST is also more suitable for testing web-based applications, while the Penetration Testing technique is more suitable for testing out systems and networks.
Examples of DAST and Penetration Testing Tools
There are several DAST and Penetration Testing tools available in the market. Some of the popular cloud based DAST tools are:
AWS DAST/AST: This tool is widely used for testing web applications. It can identify vulnerabilities including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and faulty session and authentication management.
Azure DAST/AST: Azure tool can scan web applications for vulnerabilities. It can identify vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, XSS, and file inclusion.
GCP DAST/AST: GCP DAST tool is widely used for testing web applications. It can identify vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, XSS, and CSRF.
Making the Right Choice: Deciding When to Use DAST
DAST acts as a more modern approach to security testing. It offers many benefits over traditional penetration testing techniques. Here are some use cases where DAST proves to be the better option:
Identifying Known Vulnerabilities:
DAST excels at identifying known vulnerabilities within web applications. It can quickly scan the application and provide insights into potential security weaknesses.
Testing Security Controls:
It allows organizations to test the effectiveness of their security controls, such as web application firewalls (WAFs). By simulating hacker activities, DAST can evaluate the robustness of these controls.
No Syntactic Knowledge Required:
DAST does not require in-depth knowledge of the application's syntax or codebase. This makes it accessible to organizations that may not have specialized technical expertise.
Identifying Runtime Problems:
DAST can identify runtime problems within web applications, such as configuration issues or vulnerabilities that arise during application execution.
Simulating Hacker Activities:
This method mimics the activities of real hackers, allowing organizations to understand how their applications may be exploited in real-world scenarios.
Faster and More Efficient:
The DAST method automates the testing process, making it faster and more efficient compared to manual approaches like Penetration Testing.
DAST offers a cost-effective solution for organizations looking to assess the security of their web applications without significant financial investment.
Making the Right Choice: When to Choose Penetration Testing
Penetration Testing is a more invasive approach to security testing that involves trained security experts attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in systems and networks. Here are some situations where Penetration Testing is the better option:
Comprehensive Security Posture:
Penetration Testing provides a holistic view of an application's security posture. It goes beyond identifying known vulnerabilities and explores potential weaknesses that may not be detected by automated tools.
Realistic Security Assessment:
The Penetration Testing method aims to replicate real-world attacks, providing organizations with a realistic assessment of their application's security. It helps uncover vulnerabilities that may be missed by automated testing.
Penetration Testing requires the expertise of skilled security professionals who can actively probe the application's defenses. This manual approach allows for a thorough analysis of the application's security: Red, blue, and purple cybersecurity teams can be your go to professionals for this approach.
In situations where a more invasive approach is required, such as testing the resilience of critical systems or networks, Penetration Testing is the preferred choice.
Penetration Testing is often mandated by compliance regulations, such as PCI DSS or HIPAA, to ensure the security of sensitive data and meet regulatory standards.
Proactive Defense for Your Applications: Choose Cloud4C's Managed Security Services
According to reports, 29% of organizations have automated over 70% of their security testing. Hence, making the choice between the right approach to application security testing is crucial. While both DAST and Penetration Testing have their advantages and considerations, organizations must evaluate their specific requirements to make an informed decision.
Cloud4C offers comprehensive data security solutions for a wide range of assets including datacenters, servers, networks, computing infrastructure, devices, software, middleware, workloads, and business applications across AWS, Azure, GCP, and Oracle Cloud.
Read More about how Cloud4C’s Managed Security Services, helped secure private cloud landscape for an Indian Financial Leader, risk-proofing their operations end-to-end.
With expertise in integrating cutting-edge cloud-native security tools including DAST, Penetration Testing, and other security testing methodologies, automation solutions, and proprietary risk management intelligence platforms, Cloud4C enables organizations to risk-proof their cloud transformations and IT modernizations end-to-end. With round-the-clock consulting support from certified cloud security experts, organizations can achieve robust protection and significant cost savings.
If you're interested in learning more about Cloud4C's Managed Security Services, contact us.