If you’re running a website, it’s critical to make sure that it’s safe. Chances are you did not use secure coding practices everywhere or perhaps you want to make sure no new flaws were introduced after the last update? Application security testing is one of the best ways to secure your website against hackers and other malicious actors. In this article, we’ll discuss two security testing methods in particular: SAST and DAST. We will also explain how each type of testing works, and show you how to get started with them yourself!
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Why is website security important?
Websites are available for access to anyone connected to the internet… including hackers. If your website handles sensitive information such as passwords, phone numbers, bank/card details, etc., then it is imperative that you ensure it is secure. To cybercriminals, such websites are gold mines and they’ve come up with several ways to steal data from them.
Common security risks that you need to protect against include:
- SQL injection
- Cross-site scripting
- Directory traversal/file inclusion vulnerabilities
- Cross-site request forgery
- Weak encryptions
- Security misconfigurations
- Insecure access controls
- Insufficient logging and monitoring
There are many other ways for hackers to gain access to your website and its data. It is important to secure your website because hackers can steal information from users who visit it or inject malware into the site itself. If this happens, then visitors will not be able to trust you anymore and they may even stop coming back altogether.
Thankfully, there are various security testing methods that you can use to find and fix these vulnerabilities.
All about SAST
Static application security testing, or SAST for short, is a method of analysing code without actually running it. It can be performed as you’re coding. In fact, most SAST tools allow integrations with IDEs (integrated development environment) and websites like GitHub.
The great thing about SAST is that it can be used on any language and platform. It can detect insecure coding practises as well as potential logical errors that cause crashes or unexpected behaviour.
One of the downsides of SAST is that it fails to detect several high-risk threats that can only be detected by testing an application while it is in execution.
All about DAST
Dynamic application security testing, or DAST for short, is a method of analysing running applications. This type of testing is performed on live systems and can detect issues that may occur when users are interacting with your application.
The great thing about DAST is that you do not need to have access to the source code. DAST can also detect issues that are only visible after an application has been started, such as memory leaks and race conditions between threads, etc. This type of testing is great for detecting vulnerabilities in web applications and APIs that may not be detectable with SAST.
However, DAST does have some downsides. One of them is that it can be expensive to set up and maintain. It is also prone to reporting false positives which will lead developers down a rabbit hole trying to figure out what went wrong. It can also be overly aggressive and cause the application to crash during testing.
Getting started with web application security testing
Both SAST and DAST are great methods for improving the security of your website. However, they both require a certain level of expertise to use properly.
If you’re new to security testing, we recommend starting with SAST first. It’s easier to use and will help you identify common coding mistakes.
- HCL AppScan
- OWASP ASST
After you’ve gotten a handle on SAST, you may go on to DAST. This type of testing is more difficult to use but it offers a higher level of security by detecting vulnerabilities that are not detectable with SAST.
- Astra Pentest
- HCL AppScan
- OWASP ZAP
- Burp Suite Professional
Tips for using SAST and DAST tools:
- Always use the latest version of SAST and DAST tools. Their updates could include crucial bug fixes and new features.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of how the tools work before using them on your website.
- Do not rely on just one tool. Use a combination of tools to get the most comprehensive results.
- Always run your tools in a sandbox environment before using them on production servers. If something goes wrong during testing, it won’t do any real damage.
- Stay up to date with the latest news on web application security testing tools and techniques by following blogs and online forums.
If security is crucial to your website but you don’t have the time or resources to do the testing yourself, we recommend using a professional security testing service like Astra Security. This is the most successful way to prevent hackers and other harmful actors from attacking your website.
We’ve emphasized time and again how critical it is to safeguard your website. Remember that even if you think nothing could ever happen, hackers are always looking for new ways to steal data and break into websites. The best way to protect yourself from these attacks is by using web application security testing methods such as SAST and DAST.
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