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Pentesting vs DAST: What is Your DAST Tool Missing?

DAST and pentesting both have the same goal to minimize risk and prevent attacks before they happen. So, what’s the difference between the two and how can your organization leverage these tools?

The uptick in technology and a digital-first approach to business provides many benefits. However, it also creates opportunities for increasing cybercrime. Application security is constantly developing as an essential component of any organization, and companies are discovering the ways investing in a robust application security stack, for instance, DAST coupled with penetration testing, can help protect business-critical assets.

DAST and pentesting both have the same goal to minimize risk and prevent attacks before they happen. So, what’s the difference between the two and how can your organization leverage these tools?

DAST vs Pentesting

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a simulation of automated attacks during runtime. That’s where the “dynamic” aspect comes into play, as it functions while systems are already running. DAST is a fully automated process using screening tools, while modern pentesting combines automation with the expertise of trained security professionals (pentesters) who test assets manually.

DAST Screening Tools

DAST tools perform a black-box test that communicates with a web application to identify potential security vulnerabilities and weaknesses. These screening tools are good for pinpointing a variety of security risks, including:

  • Cross-site scripting
  • SQL injection
  • Command injection
  • Insecure server configuration
  • SSRF

However, “DAST also has limited effectiveness in the detecting of non-reflective attacks (i.e – XSS) and other design flaws (coding errors) that can lead to stability issues.” (The CyberSecurity Place)

Pentesting and PtaaS

Pentesting is a proactive cybersecurity practice defined as, “a method of testing where testers target individual binary components or the application as a whole to determine whether intra or inter component vulnerabilities can be exploited to compromise the application, its data, or its environmental resources.” (CSRC)

Penetration testing applies targeted attacks from trained cybersecurity professionals, where testers identify potential vulnerabilities and report detailed findings that companies can leverage for remediation. It also offers a different view of your security posture compared to DAST tools which often miss business logic, chained exploits, and more.

Traditional one-off pentesting rarely focuses on speed, automation and agility, leading to delays in the release cycle and more. To keep up with modern technology and business security practices, pentesting has begun evolving into Pentest as a Service (PtaaS). PtaaS is focused on testing for heightened security, speed, and affordability, differing from traditional pentesting by providing a modernized cloud-based platform with software integrations and automatic reporting.

Continuous Pentesting Cycle

A continuous pentest program ensures that the assets that are most business critical are regularly tested. This way, there is a much higher likelihood that high-risk vulnerabilities will be identified and remediated quickly. What is your DAST tool missing? The benefits of integrating a Pentest as a Service platform. Learn more about the benefits PtaaS can bring to your organization.

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About Mary Elliott
Passionate about marketing and communications within the cybersecurity industry, Mary Elliott is a published writer who enjoys all things content marketing, copywriting/editing, and digital communications. More By Mary Elliott
Launching "The PtaaS Book: The A - Z of Pentest as a Service"
Authored by InfoSec community advocate and Chief Strategy Officer at Cobalt, Caroline Wong, The PtaaS Book features 7 chapters that go in depth to answer a variety of questions.
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Jan 10, 2022