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Why Should Interactive Application Security Testing Be Used To Empower Your Software?

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By Author: Michael Wade
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The spectre of cybercrime is spreading thick and fast with companies and individuals being defrauded of sensitive personal and business information and money on a humongous scale. It is estimated that by 2020, the world shall witness an annual outgo of $5 trillion because of cybercrime (Source: www.cyberdefensemagazine.com). Strands of malware, ransomware, viruses, and trojans are wreaking havoc worldwide with around 31% of organizations having experienced cyber-attacks on their IT architecture and IoT facing attacks to the tune of 600% in 2017 alone (Source: Symantec.)

The only way to address the alarming situation is by increasing the security budget and adopting the best cyber security practices. First and foremost, businesses should ensure their software architecture conforms to the regulatory protocols such as PCI DSS, GLBA, SOX, and HIPPA among others. Furthermore, they should ensure any software application being developed to undergo rigorous application security testing. To ensure the same, it is about time businesses embraced Interactive Application ...
... Security Testing (IAST) instead of the dated Static and Dynamic Analysis (SAST and DAST).

IAST is being hailed as the next big thing in the arsenal of cyber security testing for its plethora of benefits including an expansive test coverage. It has emerged as a potent disrupter in the world of application security testing with an innate capability to elicit information from an application undergoing QA. The information may comprise data flow, stack trace, libraries, runtime requests, and control flow among others. Let us understand IAST better in the following segment.

What is IAST?

As the code of an application is run by an automated test tool or human tester (manual testing) to test its functionality, the IAST or Interactive Application Security Testing analyzes the code for any built-in security vulnerability by using agents or sensors. IAST doesn’t include testing the entire software application but only the codes that are being part of the functional test. Needless to state, IAST is best leveraged when the QA environment encompasses an automated functional test. In addition to monitoring the existing security vulnerabilities in an application, IAST can verify them and declare them as potential threats. Thereupon, IAST can produce a vulnerability test report with the suggested course of action needed to fix the same. The report and its attendant guidelines enable the development team to fix the issues on priority. Typically, IAST is implemented shift-left in the SDLC resulting in early identification of runtime vulnerabilities. This pre-empts delays and mitigates the risk of breaches leading to cost savings.

What are the benefits of IAST?

IAST offers a host of benefits as listed below to identify vulnerabilities and strengthen the security framework of applications.

• There is no process disruption in executing IAST as it can run concurrently (and transparently) with existing software security testing. Since there is a premium on testing time due to a business’s obsession with time-to-market, IAST offers no disruptions or checkpoints. This is due to the fact that an IAST technique executes application security testing by leveraging activities that are already running.

• There is no need to rewrite the test scripts as IAST can be run by reusing the existing ones. This results in savings on time, effort, and money.

• Provides integration with analytics tools such as Software Composition Analysis (SCA) to scan open source components in third party applications or binary files.

• Since static and dynamic analysis does not include the testing of frameworks or libraries, a vast section of the application remains unchecked of vulnerabilities. On the other hand, since IAST validates the entire application from inside while the same is being run, there is better test coverage of the entire codebase.

• IAST does not need customization, finetuning, or configuration during its implementation. It simply runs alongside the software application security testing process automatically and on a continuous basis.

• IAST offers instant feedback assuring developers that the code being developed is clean. This can eliminate procedural delays in validating glitches thus saving time and money.

• Security tools can generate false error reports, which can engage the attention of testers and lead to the stretching of their workload. Moreover, this increased workload can let testers spend less time in identifying the critical flaws. However, with IAST, there is more access to data resulting in better error findings.

Conclusion

Web applications are increasingly being threatened by hackers to steal sensitive personal data, critical intellectual property, and other info. The existing methods or techniques for security vulnerability testing are not uniform and differ in the way they scan and test. Since not all tools are similar in their effectiveness, businesses have their task cut out while choosing the best one. However, the shift-left testing in IAST helps to identify and address the vulnerabilities early and prevents delays and cost overruns.

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