Cyberattacks are at an all-time high and with the current shift towards digitalization during the covid-19, they have become a common occurrence.
A research conducted by Veracode shows that 83% of the applications had at least one security flaw on the initial scan and we all know that exploiting security vulnerabilities is one of the most favourite methods of hackers. In fact, most of the cyberattacks use security vulnerabilities as an entry point to launch their vicious criminal activities!
Therefore, it is important for the developers and coders to test their applications thoroughly and eliminate any possible weakness their app may have.
Luckily, a lot has been done in this regard and there are various methods and tools to perform security analysis on the applications and detect any possible security vulnerability that your app might have.
In this article, we have discussed the top 3 ways to detect security vulnerabilities in your application’s code with each method having its pros and cons.
Detecting Security Vulnerabilities in Your Application’s Code
So, without any further ado, let’s get to it:
1. Static application security testing (SAST)
Conducted in the coding stage, SAST allows the developers to identify and tackle any possible security vulnerabilities an application might have before the application is released to the end consumers.
It is a white-box testing technique that looks for coding or design flaws indicating a possible weak-point in the source code. Due to this, this technique doesn’t require the source code to be deployed and can be performed in the initial phase.
Pros of using SAST:
- Security testing can be performed at an early stage eliminating the risk of exposing the end-users to hackers.
- The cost of identifying and fixing security flaws is considerably cheap compared to other testing techniques.
- Developers can make use of this technique to ensure their code is error-free and full-proof from any possible security flaw.
Cons of using SAST:
While there are many benefits of using SAST, there are certain limitations to this method also. Some of them are listed below.
- High false-positive rate.
- Very slow to perform and SAST tools are difficult to scale.
- SAST tools are unable to detect runtime issues.
2. Interactive application security testing (IAST)
Unlike SAST, IAST doesn’t need a static environment to analyze security weaknesses. Instead, IAST tools can inspect security vulnerabilities while the application is running. Usually, this technique is employed while the app is run by a human tester, an automated test, or any particular activity interacting with the functionalities of the application.
The best part is, IAST works in a very specific approach and can be used to test some specific functionalities of the web application eliminating the need for testing the entire codebase again and again.
Pros of using IAST:
- Runtime issues are detected in real-time with very high accuracy.
- IAST tools can pinpoint the security vulnerabilities within the scope of some functionalities of the web application.
- IAST can make use of automated testing making it easier to scale.
- Vulnerabilities can be detected before the web application is made available to the end consumers, reducing the cost of fixing the security flaws significantly.
Cons of using IAST:
- Since most IAST tools are manufactured by third parties, these tools might not detect all the security flaws present in the application.
- IAST tools only support a few selected languages, limiting the scope of testing. IAST tools will be useless if you are using a slightly unpopular language like Go Lang, etc.
3. Dynamic Application security testing (DAST)
DAST is the opposite of the SAST and tests a web application outside-in. Dynamic application security testing is considered as black-box testing where the tester mimics the behaviour of a hacker and analyzes the loopholes in the security from the frontend.
DAST tools are used in the final phase of the web application to eliminate any possible security flaws that an application might have.
Pros of using DAST:
- DAST tools allow for the application to be tested from the consumer end and doesn’t require the source code.
- DAST tools can provide accurate testing results with a very low false-positive rate.
- They can be used with any programming language.
Cons of using DAST:
- Since the technique is used towards the end of the SDLC, the cost of identifying and fixing a security flaw is considerably high.
- DAST tools cannot detect all the security vulnerabilities and there is a chance that even after DAST, some security flaws remain undetected.