/nov 12, 2023

Securing Your Web Applications and APIs with Veracode DAST Essentials

By Jenny Buckingham

Web applications are one of the most common vector for breaches, accounting for over 40% of breaches according to Verizon's 2022 Data Breach Report. Ensuring that your web applications are sufficiently protected and continue to be monitored once they are in production is vital to the security of your customers and your organization. 

Staying Ahead of the Threat

Attackers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and to breach web applications, which means that as their methods mature and they become more aggressive, even the most securely developed applications can become vulnerable. Organizations that only perform annual penetration tests on their web applications may be leaving themselves open to a breach that could be easily prevented with regular production scanning. 

Application security outlines a collection of processes and tools focused on identifying, remediating, and preventing application-level vulnerabilities throughout the entire software development lifecycle. Web application dynamic application security testing (DAST) is a critical baseline solution for your application security program. 

As modern application development leverages a continuous deployment and integration approach for faster delivery, application security testing needs to be automated and seamlessly integrated throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC). A comprehensive application security strategy involves several scans including: 

Understanding DAST

DAST scans applications for vulnerabilities and simulates external attacks during runtime. Unlike SAST, DAST does not require access to the binary or source code. Security and development teams can use DAST tools to perform simulated external attacks in test environments, gathering insights without compromising production instances.  

DAST tests are written by ethical hackers to attack the application externally by checking for critical flaws and potential security vulnerabilities on exposed attack surfaces. These experts then gather information on the application’s security vulnerability depending on how it responds to these simulations.

Categorized as a black box security testing approach, DAST uncovers potential security issues with a lower false-positive rate than other application security testing tools. 

Why DAST Matters

DAST helps organizations identify key runtime and exploitable web application vulnerabilities missed during code development and verification. It also demonstrates the application’s response to an attack, which is what most external attackers exploit to gain more control.   

A DAST solution can offer you several benefits: 

  • Identify new attack vectors continuously
  • Test APIs for security vulnerabilities
  • Detect security governance and meet compliance requirements 
  • Obtain insights into application performance and resource consumption 
  • Receive lower false-positives results 

Integrating DAST into the SDLC 

DAST combines vulnerability scanning with penetration testing to assess an application's security posture during runtime. Introducing DAST into the SDLC involves injecting faulty code and configurations into the application to identify security vulnerabilities. 

A common approach to DAST testing relies on a centralized registry of Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) to cross-reference and validate the severity of the susceptible points. These tools typically scan the HTML and HTTP interfaces for common security vulnerabilities, then perform automatic penetration testing for any exposed surfaces. A report of these vulnerabilities helps you update your application with patches for the vulnerabilities identified. 

DAST tools are commonly deployed when the application is going into production, identifying weaknesses that threat actors can exploit and then illustrating how these flaws can be used for unauthorized access. 

Vulnerabilities Uncovered by DAST 

DAST explores various attack scenarios and techniques attackers use to access web applications. Vulnerabilities and attacks uncovered by DAST include: 

  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): A client-side vulnerability that lets the attacker include malicious code on a legitimate web page to execute malicious actions on a victim’s web browser. 
  • Injection Errors: Malicious actors, disguised as users, use injection flaws to send untrusted data to web servers as part of a command. Injection attacks are often aimed at various targets such as: 
  • Server Misconfiguration: In these attacks, the threat actor attempts to exploit weaknesses in the configuration of web server components. 

Vulnerabilities detected with DAST rarely overlap with SAST or SCA findings, highlighting the critical role of DAST in a robust application security program. In fact, 80% of web apps have a critical vulnerability that can only be found with a DAST scan according to our State of Software Security Report.

How Veracode Can Help 

Veracode Dynamic Analysis (DAST) can help you improve application security by simulating attacks and remediating runtime vulnerabilities before they become targets, helping you stay ahead of evolving threats. 

Veracode DAST Essentials, part of Veracode’s DAST portfolio, provides dynamic scanning that meets the needs of modern development and security teams. With just a few clicks, teams can launch scans and receive real-time insights into vulnerabilities. This solution seamlessly integrates security testing into automated CI/CD pipelines, allowing for regular scanning of applications and APIs across various development stages on a daily or weekly basis.

Modern teams combine DAST, SAST, and SCA tools to establish a robust application security program. We can help you integrate security testing seamlessly into your modern development workflows to protect your web assets from malicious attacks. To see how our platform and DAST portfolio can work for you, try our DAST Essentials scanner for free today

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By Jenny Buckingham

Jenny Buckingham is a Product Marketing Manager helping developers and security professionals secure their cloud-native application development. With a focus on understanding her customer’s needs, she helps companies leverage powerful solutions to overcome security challenges.