Cybersecurity – SAST and DAST VS IAST and RASP
A great number of breaches in cybersecurity nowadays can be attributed to web applications, meaning application security is now a priority in the market. Application security has improved throughout the years, and some of the newer technologies may turn the older ones obsolete. This creates the debate about the use of classic solutions like SAST and DAST versus newer solutions that may offer better security but are so recent that are seen by some as experimental.
In order to understand exactly what the differences are between these solutions and understand what each of them can offer, there’s no better way to start than by the absolute basics.</p
What is application security testing?
During its various stages of development, an application is submitted to a set of measures that target it’s vulnerabilities and then registers them in order to later fix and prevent them. During the overall lifecycle of an application, there must be constant supervision of such vulnerabilities through security testing in order to address them in time. Security testing comes in many forms, such as SAST, DAST and IAST.
SAST – Static Application Security Testing
This solution has been the main tool of application developers for ages. It’s the precursor of all recent security tools and as such it mustn’t be underrated as obsolete. It is also known as “white box testing” and it is used to find security vulnerabilities in the application’s source code, meaning it is most useful early in the application’s life cycle.
The advantages that have maintained SAST solutions at the top of application security for so long are their ability to find highly complex vulnerabilities during the early stages of development and take little effort to integrate and examine code.
However, their disadvantages have become obvious in recent years, such as the great challenge of deploying these solutions in scale, the inaccurate model of code behaviour that inevitably leads to a great number of false positives and false negatives and the inability to evaluate the application’s behaviour in a real environment.
DAST – Dynamic Application Security Testing
The DAST solution is also known as “black box testing” and the main difference between this and SAST is it finds security vulnerabilities in a running application, opposed to finding them in early development. This search is done by introducing faults to the running app, such as malware, and then finding the gaps in the app’s security that need to be filled. It can also cast a light on other runtime errors, such as authentication and server configuration issues.
Such a solution presents the benefits of securing an app already running, with less false positive results and presenting a less complex and expensive solution as opposed to SAST. However, one can never ignore the disadvantages, especially when those are blatantly obvious as the incapability of finding every underlying cause of such vulnerabilities, being unusable during early development stages and being unable to exactly simulate the real-life invasions such an application can suffer.
IAST – Interactive Application Security Testing
IAST’s functions provide a much different approach to security, monitoring continuously the applications by using agents and sensors during every stage of testing. The expansive monitoring techniques used by this solution allow not only to find vulnerabilities but also determine how serious they are and if they pose a serious threat to the application.
By operating inside the application, IAST has a much bigger coverage, having access to a wide range of data on a continuous timeline, throughout the lifecycle of the protected application.
Applying IAST will allow finding issues early, with minimal cost and delay, determining the exact cause, superficial or underlying, of any issue due to the great amount of information it has access to and a much less complex integration.
Since it is a recent technology, some of the problems attached to it may not yet have been discovered but one of them has become obvious which is the possibility of overwhelming and slowing the general functioning of the application due to the added instrumentation.
RASP – Runtime Application Self-Protection
RASP is a solution that shouldn’t replace any of the previously mentioned but instead add to them. This solution isn’t focused in testing an application for security vulnerabilities but in effectively protecting the application from external threats. RASP is a more active security solution, as it protects the application in real-time.
RASP is becoming the fundamental complement for any of the previous solutions by adding to the security layers of the app an extra one that keeps actively protecting even during runtime, having an easy and fast integration process and allowing a quicker and more efficient response to unknown and recurring security threats to an application.
However, such recent technologies are always a possible target for unforeseen issues. It may have a negative impact on the performance of the protected application since RASP is integrated in its server, the developer may depend on it too much, ignoring good security habits, and may disregard the need for security testing, putting the application at risk.
All the solutions that are nowadays available for guaranteeing the security of applications are possible choices and with varying degrees of efficiency and satisfaction. The older the solution, the more problems with it have been solved and as such the more trustworthy that solution is. However, there are improvements that are just impossible to integrate in older technologies and require the creation and development of new ones, more efficient ones. These last mentioned may be susceptible to unpredictable issues, but with a competent security team and technical support, those issues are solved and an application remains protected by the most improved and efficient solutions.
So as they say… and because it’s “better to be safe than to be sorry” check out our Cybersecurity Solutions and put your business security FIRST at your TO DO list!
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