Dynamic Security Testing (DST) is an important part of web application security. It’s a testing method that automates the process of finding vulnerabilities and assessing risks in software applications. With this guide, we’ll discuss how to use Dynamic Security Testing and some best practices for DST implementations.
What is dynamic testing and how does it work?
Dynamic testing is an automated process that executes a web application in a controlled environment and identifies vulnerabilities.
Dynamic tests work by sending requests to the server, then analyzing its response using vulnerability detection engines such as Acunetix or Netsparker. Dynamic Application Security Testing vs. Static Application Security Testing
Dynamic security testing (DST) is similar but different from static code analysis (SCA). DST analyzes applications at runtime – it simulates real user actions and monitors how these affect system resources like memory or data stores; while SCA only scans the source files of the software for known bugs/vulnerabilities.
Dynamic methods can be very effective because they look beyond just what’s visible on the surface: They analyze instead of focusing on individual components of the application.
Dynamic security testing is a great way to find vulnerabilities that would be otherwise hard to detect in static code analysis, such as XSS and SQLi which can only be detected when actually executed by users on vulnerable applications.
How do Dynamic Application Security Testing tools work?
Dynamic vulnerability detection engines are not simple port scanners or protocol “sniffers.” Like anti-virus software, they have been engineered using advanced techniques from Artificial Intelligence (AI) research with unique capabilities for identifying new classes of attacks against web applications:
To understand what makes Dynamic Analysis better than traditional methods let’s look at how it works under the hood – starting from crawling websites through setting up servers & configuring virtual machines all the way down to the actual Dynamic Analysis engines themselves.
- Crawling websites: Dynamic analysis tools start by crawling web applications to get an understanding of how they are structured and what technologies/languages they use – these include Dynamic Application Security Testing, Web Security Testing, Static Code Analysis (SCA), Penetration testing through automated scanners & manual testers, etc..
They also discover all assets that need protection which is then made available for reporting purposes or when starting a Dynamic test session. The crawler only visits each URL once unless it detects changes in its source code – this allows you to avoid potential false positives caused by caching issues on proxies or browser caches.
- Setting up servers & virtual machines: Dynamic analysis tools are not installed locally but instead run from remote locations using Virtual machines (VMs) and sandboxes – these are isolated environments that mimic the user’s working environment.
Dynamic analysis tools run several tests simultaneously in separate VMs to speed up the process, while also making it possible for multiple testers/researchers to work on different parts of a web application at once or even set up private Dynamic Analysis Sandbox Servers.
- Dynamic Application Security Testing Engines: Dynamic security testing requires advanced engines which can do more than just identify vulnerabilities by looking for existing signatures in their databases. They must be able to understand how applications work, reason about them using inference techniques like symbolic execution & answer complex questions such as “what happens if I change this parameter?” For example, an attack vector might only exist when a value is set to ‘admin’ and Dynamic Analysis engines must be able to reason about it without having seen that data before.
The dynamic analysis also requires an engine that can simulate real users by following the actions they would take when interacting with a web application such as filling out forms, clicking on menus & buttons, or even changing values in input boxes.
Why should you use this type of testing in your business?
Dynamic analysis is more accurate than Static Code Analysis (SCA) because it can follow users’ actions, identify new attack vectors, and reason about applications to find vulnerabilities.
Dynamic security testing also requires advanced engines which can do more than just looking for existing signatures in their databases.
Dynamic analysis tools run several tests simultaneously in separate VMs to speed up the process while making it possible for multiple testers/researchers to work on different parts of a web application at once or even set up private Dynamic Analysis Sandbox Servers.
Dynamic security testing does not replace other types of tests but instead works alongside them – using different tools for different purposes depending on what you are trying to achieve. For example, Dynamic Analysis has its limitations: It’s useless against “toy” applications that don’t have any valuable assets/sensitive user data; while Static Code Analysis may give false positives because it doesn’t actually execute code inside browsers. Dynamic Application Security Testing is also very resource-intensive in terms of memory & processing power which means it can’t be used on every project – but when security issues are found in production apps Dynamic Analysis usually provides the most accurate results.