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The ABCs of AppSec Testing: IAST & DAST

Cyber attacks compel the organizations to resort to application security testing solutions for safety. IAST and DAST are the two solutions among the various available options in the AppSec market.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) or “black box testing”:

An application is run to test for the vulnerabilities by providing input to its external interface to examine its behavior. In spite of detecting several vulnerabilities, DAST has several limitations. For instance, to receive the output, the application has to pass the build stage causing significant delays while dealing with sophisticated vulnerabilities in bigger projects involving numerous builds per day.

It has a longer turnaround cycle and any new configuration calls for more challenging automation. It also falls short during CI/CD flows as it can begin working only after the completion of the build. Besides automation being the chief activity throughout the development stages, the frequency of committing the code is high in CI environments.

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Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST):

It is the updated version of DAST. It is a part of the dynamic testing world and is based on ‘application under test’. It is responsible to integrate the applications into the existing functional, UI, network, manual or non-functional testing (i.e., load and stress testing) platforms and monitor them while they run in the testing environments.

It also provides instant output and is performed with the existing automation processes to spot the security vulnerabilities automatically because of which it is opted by DevOps and CI/CD processes.

Being an automated testing solution, it can substitute DAST as well as eliminate its disadvantages. This will enable the development houses to sustain full security automation during the SLDC.

DAST and IAST monitor and test an application that is running.

Unlike DAST, IAST enables application security throughout the CI/CD pipeline, without the necessity of DAST as an “enabler”, making it a suitable solution for DevOps and CI environments. Other reasons are:

  • It takes zero scan time because the identification of vulnerabilities during the functional testing ends the security scan.
  • Automatic detection of applications causes less operation overhead.
  • No need for operation or maintenance during the changes in application business logic makes it agonistic.
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