Every day, we hear about a new data breach or some other cyber-attack that has compromised millions of user accounts. If you own or run a website, you have the important job of ensuring that the web application you develop and deploy is safe from these types of attacks. This can be achieved through AST. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between DAST and SAST, their pros and cons, as well as the different types of tools available in terms of licenses. Finally, we’ll list twelve essential open source SAST and DAST tools.
What is Application Security Testing (AST)?
The goal of AST is to find and remove flaws in web applications. This can be done through manual testing, using a variety of automated tools, or a combination of both. This is crucial to minimise the number of bugs and/or flaws before your website goes live. Because once it’s out there, anyone can access it including hackers, and you don’t want them finding security issues before you do.
DAST vs. SAST
The two most common types of AST are DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) and SAST (Static Application Security Testing).
DAST involves testing the application while it is running.
- Can identify vulnerabilities that are not detectable through static analysis
- Provides a more complete view of the application’s security posture
- Detects issues that may have been introduced as a result of code changes
- Vulnerabilities identified may be difficult or impossible to fix
- Can be time-consuming and resource-intensive
SAST uses static analysis to examine the code without running it.
- Identifies potential security flaws early in the development process
- Is less expensive and time-consuming than DAST
- Does not detect vulnerabilities that are introduced as a result of code changes
- Cannot identify issues that are specific to how the application is being used.
Types of AST tools
When it comes to AST tools, there are three main types: commercial, open-source, and free but not open-source. Commercial tools are those that are developed and sold by a company. Open-source tools are those that are developed and made available for free download, with the source code being openly shared. Free but not open-source tools are similar to open-source tools, except that the source code is not available for modification or redistribution.
How to choose the right tool?
When it comes to selecting an AST solution, the most important thing to keep in mind is that one size does not fit all. Here are some factors you should consider to discover the tool that is appropriate for your exact needs and requirements:
- The type of application you are testing
- Whether or not the tool is compatible with your development environment
- The size and complexity of the application
- The language(s) it is written in
- Whether you need a tool that can be used for both manual and automated testing
- The level of security required
- Your budget
12 essential open source SAST and DAST tools
Now that we know a little bit more about AST, let’s take a look at some of the best open-source tools available.
6 open source DAST tools
OWASP ZAP is a popular OWASP project that is used for attacking web applications. It’s an easy-to-use tool that can be run on any platform.
Word documents, and Excel sheets.
Nikto is a web server scanner that was created to find malicious files on servers It also checks for outdated server software. You can find it included with Kali Linux or download its Dockerfile.
OpenVAS is a cross-platform vulnerability scanner. You can also manage vulnerabilities that it detects and find useful tips to fix them.
Nuclei uses customisable templates that result in zero false positives. It’s well-known for its customisation options and quick scans against a large number of hosts. Nuclei is a great tool for reconnaissance, scanning, and pentesting.
Deepfence ThreatMapper is a tool that helps you visualise your organisation’s application risk. It does this by mapping out the relationships between applications, data stores, and users. This allows you to see how an attack on one part of your infrastructure could impact other parts.
6 open source SAST tools
Flawfinder is a static analysis tool that scans C, C++, Perl, PHP, and Java source code for security vulnerabilities. It can run on any platform.
.NET Security Guard
This is a static analysis tool for .NET applications that was created to help identify and fix security vulnerabilities. It’s an easy-to-use tool that can be run on any platform.
CodeSonar is a static analysis tool that’s used to find security vulnerabilities, coding errors, and design problems in C, C++, and Java code. It has a commercial edition as well.
Deep Dive is a static byte code analysis tool that’s used to find security vulnerabilities in Java applications. It also allows integration with your development process.
PMD is a static analysis tool that’s used to find security vulnerabilities, coding errors, and style problems in Java code. It’s open source and can be run on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
The bottom line
AST is an important part of application security and should be used throughout the development process to help identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can do damage. When selecting an AST tool, consider what you require from a security testing tool.
The key thing to remember is that one size does not fit all, so you need to find a tool that meets your specific needs. The 12 essential open source SAST and DAST tools listed here should give you a good starting point.
Author Bio: Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing “engineering in marketing” to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.
You can connect with him on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ankit-pahuja/
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