Over the last decade, dynamic application testing tools or DAST testing has become the preferred mode of risk assessment.

It is simple to understand too. If the tester or machine can mimic what the hackers can do with the information available on the outside, you can trust the reports. Before we jump onto the top testing tools for dynamic assessment, here is a brief reminder of how DAST is different from SAST.

What is application security testing?

Web applications are more likely to be targeted by hackers putting your website, blog, or forum in. Application security testing helps you find out all kinds of security weaknesses that can cause some serious damage. Modern websites used a combination of DAST and SAST security testing methodologies to stop hackers.

Over the last few years, concepts like RASP and IAST have been gaining popularity. Although the technology is still not up to the mark, a hybrid approach is inevitable. Businesses shouldn’t be evaluating a dozen different security tools to understand what might work for them.

Most companies implement testing throughout the code life cycle to ensure that security scanning is a part of every step. It helps find inherent security flaws at a faster rate and much before it can cause any serious damage to the website. Let’s try and look at the difference between the most popular testing methodologies and if you should choose dynamic application testing tools over the others.

What is Static Application Security Testing?

In simplest of words, SAST is testing the source code for security flaws. This assessment methodology often takes place early in the code lifecycle. Also known as the white box testing method, it does not need the application to run or execute the code.

Sast method

The purpose of SAST or Static Application Security Testing is to help the developers get real-time feedback as they develop web properties.

Benefits of Static Application Security Testing
  • It helps find complex coding flaws that are almost impossible to find without source code access
  • Developers can keep an eye on security issues that arise early in the development cycle. It helps save a lot of time.
  • SAST allows testers to point out the exact location of the flaw. In most cases, testers pinpoint the precise location of the code in question. This helps developers find and fix the issue promptly.

If used correctly, SAST is a comprehensive testing weapon that can keep the organization security from different kinds of attacks. There are dozens of SAST testing tools on the market today.

What is Dynamic Application Security Testing? 

DAST or Dynamic application security testing is the outside view of the web asset. Under this testing methodology, automated scanners or penetration testers try to crack your web application mimicking the hackers. They try to identify potential vulnerabilities that hackers would use to exploit your systems.

DAST is also known as black-box testing and it is indispensable to securing modern web frameworks. Most companies use some form of dynamic testing to ensure that hackers do not steal their data, money, customers, or business reputation. 

Benefits of Dynamic Application Security Testing 
  • Security teams or developers get to identify critical vulnerabilities that hackers would look to exploit.
  • There is no need to provide the source code. Testing scanners or manual testers only need to mimic hacking environments and point out the security issues.
  • DAST is less expensive compared to SAST.
  • Automation makes it possible to test thousands of apps simultaneously.
  • Static testing is scalable with your business.

Dynamic testing is a preferred choice of assessment for most modern businesses. Although a hybrid approach can help you achieve better security results, expenses often stop startups and small businesses to adopt both.

SAST vs. DAST Testing

Which testing methodology is right for you? Often experts argue about choosing one security testing over the other but we believe that a hybrid approach is best suited for most websites.

On one hand, you would want to ensure the security of source code, and on the other, you would want a thorough black box testing on a scalable model. In this piece, we are covering the most popular and trusted Dynamic Application Security Testing tools.

Static Application Security Testing: This white-box testing methodology is used to assess web application from the inside. Developers or testers look for weaknesses in the source code. 

Dynamic Application Security Testing: DAST is a black box testing methodology where automated scan or manual pen testing is performed in ways that a hacker would.

Best Dynamic Application Security Testing Tools in 2020

Here are the top tools that you might want to consider for dynamic risk assessment.

1. Mister Scanner

Used by more than 1500 businesses across the world, Mister Scanner has quickly become one of the most popular DAST scanning tools today. It offers remote automated scans and penetration testing for common security loopholes including XSS, SQL Injection, CSRF, and other OWASP issues.

Reporting is one of the most powerful features of this tool. It provides easy to understand reports that convey the exact security threat along with details on what damage it could create and how to resolve it.

Finding the right vulnerability scanning tool that can find issues dynamically is difficult. Mister Scanner is our top choice for dynamic application testing tools here for a number of reasons. However, the top two are its affordability and simplicity.

Developed to be scaled, it can be used to test thousands of apps. In fact, with simple pricing and basic framework, even bloggers and startups can use it for as little as $1. 

The best thing about Mister Scanner is that both developers and non-tech people can understand the underlying weaknesses with simple reports.

  • OWASP Top 10
  • SANS 25
  • Simple Security Reports
  • 24*7 Support
  • Remediation Assistance

Used by: Companies of all sizes including startups, medium-sized, and enterprises.

2. Detectify

Detectify offers automated scanning for more than 1500 vulnerabilities. Managed by a group of ethical hackers that regularly update the security issues, Detectify is apt for smaller companies looking for a dashboard to manage their vulnerabilities.

Deep Scan from Detectify is powerful and robust. It helps you discover and fix the vulnerability on a continuous basis. The cloud, scalable model further ensures that you keep the growing business secure. We were impressed with the CVE library of the company that helps you keep the web property secure from even the latest vulnerabilities. The descriptive reports further add to its value.

Detectify Pricing

Detectify is the most underrated tool in Dynamic Application Security testing. Although it is a newer tool on the market, the functionalities and benefits far exceed beyond what you get with tools like Acunetix that charge over $6000 for one property.

The free version of the tool allows you to test it before actually paying for anything. You get full access to all the features including the dashboard and live reports.

  • OWASP Top 10
  • Crowd-sourced Library
  • Free Trial
  • Online Dashboard

Used by: Small to medium-sized businesses 

3. Acunetix

Acunetix is one of the oldest DAST testing tools on the market with more than two decades of experience in testing. The online dashboard automatically fetches real-time scan data and helps you get a quick overview. It is powerful against the most common issues like Cross-Site Scripting and SQLi.

However, support for smaller businesses is not super powerful. We have had a few readers complaining about how they can take days to get back. We can’t back that up but the issue has been coming quite frequently.

  • OWASP Top 10 Detection
  • Powerful SQLi and XSS Detection
  • Online Dashboard
  • Demo Available 

Acunetix Testing Pricing

Unfortunately, Acunetix is not suitable for small businesses. Just to initiate a scan with this company you need in excess of $6000-7000, which most small businesses will not be able to afford. Over the last few years, Acunetix has increased its prices given its dominance and market leadership. 

Are these dynamic application testing tool prices sustainable? With the new cloud and scalable scanners coming in, it seems inevitable that this scanner will have to reconsider pricing. However, if security is critical to your organization, it is one of the best tools out there. You can test out the dynamic testing features over a free trial.

Used by: Enterprise and medium-sized businesses

4. HDIV Security

Although we haven’t reviewed HDIV Security yet, it has become a trusted dynamic application security testing tool. It offers a unified security solution for applications and APIs powered by a WAF that protects against the vulnerabilities. 

This company uses BurpSuite to identify and report vulnerabilities, which helps you keep a tab on priorities. The protection module makes it easier to secure the app.

HDIV dynamic application testing is a perfect tool for businesses looking to integrate WAF. However, most developers and small businesses might not want to deal with added load and expense. If you happen to use the product, we’d love to hear more about it.

  • OWASP Top 10
  • Protection with WAF
  • Online Dashboard
  • Business Logic Testing
  • Scalability with Cloud

HDIV Security Pricing

HDIV has been a little hesitant to mention the pricing of its products on the website. This made us look into the details. For a startup, the security testing costs will go over $4000.

Is it too much? Although HDIV Security is not the traditional scanner, the additional benefits do not justify the cost. According to a few reports, they are still testing the pricing models and we’d suggest that you get in touch to know more about it.

Used by: Enterprise and medium-sized businesses

5. Netsparker Dynamic Security Testing

Netsparker is also one of the popular choices with compliances with OWASP, HIPPA, and PCI. Known for its compatibility across JIRA, Github, Slack, this DAST testing tool is easy to use and comes with an online dashboard to help you keep a tab on the vulnerabilities.

Compliance is a strong positive for this testing tool. HIPAA, OWASP, and PCI reports make it a strong contender for every business where security, reporting, compliance and customer data is of utmost importance.

  • OWASP Top 10
  • HIPPA and PCI
  • JIRA and Github Compatible
  • On-premise Software Only
  • Not on Cloud

NetSparker Pricing

On the pricing front, this is another expensive offering for businesses. Let’s assume that you have a single website for medium-sized business and a security team of 5 people. NetSparker will charge $10000 a year for application security testing. It is definitely a lot of money especially for bootstrapped and initial rounds of funded companies. The basic plan comes at about $6000 but this is not the cloud package.

Used by: Larger companies

6. Checkmarx

Checkmarx is a security platform built for CI/CD. Mentioned as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing, it is trusted by more than 1400 businesses across the world. Although Chekmarx is different from any tool on this list in terms of complexity, we won’t comment on that and you will have to test it yourself. 

Unlike other companies on the list, CheckMarx also offers a robust SAST tool. It can be used in sync with the DAST to ensure hybrid security. You can easily manage the entire infrastructure on their IASt platform. As a competitor to GitHub, it is not one of the most affordable tools on the market. It is highly respected by developers

DAST Testing Tools

There is an online demo available for this tool. It will help you get a better idea of what the company has to offer. Unfortunately, there is no free trial and you will have to pay to use it.

  • Leader in Gartner Quadrant for AST
  • OWASP Top 10
  • Most Expensive Tool on List
  • CI/CD Pipeline Security

CheckMark Pricing

It is extremely difficult to find out the exact DAST cost for CheckMarx. Since the company is moving towards offering a complete development and security infrastructure, DAST is not their priority. We made a few phone calls to understand how the pricing works and it came out that for a team of 5, it would cost over $10000. 

Used by: Startups, medium, and large-sized businesses

7. Synopsys

Synopsys DAST is flexible, easy to use, and covers the major security loopholes. This testing tool also includes managed penetration testing along with mobile application testing. Any other tool on this DAST testing list doesn’t offer mobile testing as a part of the solution.

Synopsys is built for scalability and flexibility. It is easy to use but for the large part, untested. We could not find a lot of reviews for the company. Given that there is no Free Trial, we recommend you ask for one through the ‘Demo’ option.

  • OWASP 10
  • Penetration Testing
  • Mobile Application Testing
  • Network Testing

Synopsys Pricing

It is one of the lesser-known application testing tools on the list. Understandably, the prices are on the lower side. Startups and small businesses can use their DAST product for as little as $500 a month, which includes on-demand analysis by an expert. Given the company also offers a powerful mobile app testing infrastructure, it is a better choice for ecom and financial businesses.

Used by: Medium and large-sized businesses

What risks do the DAST tool scan?

Dynamic Application Security Testing or DAST scan is a broad term used for a number of testing methodologies. As blackbox testing or assessment, the exposure spans over different kinds of issues. OWASP Top 10 is the most basic place to start.

OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities
  • Injection

This kind of vulnerability helps hackers inject and execute malicious chunks of code. It is one of the most critical vulnerabilities on SQL, NoSQL, OS, and LDAP. Most major security breaches in the past happened due to injection attacks. 

  • Broken Authentication

Under this security loophole, hackers can take over user accounts. The inherent weaknesses allow hijackers to compromise keys, session tokens, passwords, and other authentication and session management points.

  • Sensitive Data Exposure

When APIs or apps do not protect sensitive data, attackers can use this information to carry out different kinds of attacks. It allows them to carry out identity theft, steal credit card information or PII. 

  • XML External Entities (XEE)

Attackers can exploit this vulnerability to uncover internal files. They can use remote code injection, URI handler, DOS, internal pots or even file sharing mechanism to execute XEE. Developers often overlook the importance of this vulnerability.

  • Broken Access Control

Imagine if you don’t enforce proper control on user right and some random user ends up having more privilege than they should. This is the exact definition of Broken Access Control and attackers are always on the lookout for such inherent system weaknesses. 

  • Security Misconfiguration

It is a common security issue where the developers either overlook the importance of security or leave it that way by mistake. HTTP headers, open cloud space, and open code libraries are examples of such misconfiguration. 

  • Cross-Site Scripting

When your application accepts untrusted data, attackers can use it to execute malicious scripts. Unlike injection attacks, XSS harms the end-user of your app. It can create some serious business and reputational damage.

  • Insecure Deserialization

Remote code execution is often due to this security vulnerability. Ensure that your deserialization is secure and not visible to everyone.

  • Using Components With Known Vulnerabilities

Open source code, libraries, frameworks, software modules, and universal privilege settings can lead to the most catastrophic security issues. Whenever you introduce new components, ensure that they are thoroughly tested.

  • Insufficient Logging And Monitoring

Most data breaches are not even detected for 150 days. It is critical to ensure that you are the first one to know an app hack. The little incidences will help you develop a better security framework through intelligence.

SANS 25 dynamic application testing tools have emerged as one of the popular testing areas in synchronization with the OWASP 10.

SANS 25 Security Flaws
  1. Use of Hard-coded Credentials
  2. Incorrect Permission Assignment for Critical Resource
  3. Deserialization of Untrusted Data
  4. Improper Privilege Management
  5. Uncontrolled Resource Consumption
  6. Missing Release of Resource after Effective Lifetime
  7. Untrusted Search Path
  8. Out-of-bounds Read
  9. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
  10. Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type
  11. Improper Certificate Validation
  12. Improper Restriction of XML External Entity Reference
  13. Use After Free
  14. Integer Overflow or Wraparound
  15. Improper Restriction of Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer
  16. Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation (‘Cross-site Scripting’)
  17. Improper Input Validation
  18. Information Exposure
  19. Improper Limitation of a Pathname to a Restricted Directory (‘Path Traversal’)
  20. Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an OS Command (‘OS Command Injection’)
  21. Out-of-bounds Write
  22. Improper Authentication
  23. NULL Pointer Dereference
  24. Improper Control of Generation of Code (‘Code Injection’)
  25. Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an SQL Command (‘SQL Injection’)

Dynamic application security testing tools are evolving. Many companies like HP and IBM have come up with their own versions of the tools. In fact, big players are aggressively acquiring scanners to add to their suite of products. Have you recently come across any such tools? Do leave them in the comments below.

Wrapping up: Dynamic Application Testing Tools Key Points

What is application security testing?

Web applications are more likely to be targeted by hackers putting your website, blog, or forum in. Application security testing helps you find out all kinds of security weaknesses that can cause damage.

What tool is recommended for application security testing?

Here are the top application security testing tools that you might want to consider for dynamic risk assessment.
1. Mister Scanner
2. Detectify
3. Acunetix
4. HDIV Security
5. Netsparker
6. Checkmarx
7. Synopsys

What is SAST and DAST testing?

Static Application Security Testing: This white-box testing methodology is used to assess web application from the inside. Developers or testers look for weaknesses in the source code.
Dynamic Application Security Testing: DAST is a black box testing methodology where automated scan or manual pen testing is performed in ways that a hacker would.

Which tool is used for DAST?

DASt testing tools can help you find security flaws. Here are the top used scanners:
1. Mister Scanner
2. Detectify
3. Acunetix
4. HDIV Security
5. Netsparker

What is the benefits of running a DAST automated test?

1. Identify critical vulnerabilities that hackers would look to exploit
2. No source code requirement
3. Less expensive than SAST
4. Run thousands of app tests

What is a dynamic scan?

DAST is a black box testing methodology where automated scan or manual pen testing is performed in ways that a hacker would.

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