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SAST vs. DAST: Which is better for application security testing?


Many companies wonder whether SAST or DAST is better for application security testing. 

What are the relative benefits of each methodology? Is it possible to make use of both?

ITCS user
66 Answers

author avatar
Top 20User

SAST and  DAST are not mutually exclusive and should be used in conjunction with each other.  One should be used by the developers to ensure security is being addressed as they are writing the code.  The other is used for evaluating existing applications already in production to ensure they are not susceptible to any new vulnerabilities that have been discovered.  

The real question is which should have a higher priority when it comes to introducing the concepts into your application security model.  Unfortunately, there is no single answer to which comes first.  It all depends on your organizations culture, business model, and your relationships with the various impacted groups.

author avatar
Top 5User

The easiest way to remember the role of each:

SCA & SAST = Am I Vulnerable
DAST & IAST = Am I Exploitable (In some cases together, they compliment SAST)
RASP & WAF = Can I Protect Myself  (Fixing the code is the primary option)

author avatar
Top 20Vendor

For application security you ideally need SAST, SCA and DAST. You need all three as they essentially measure different things:

SAST identifies bad coding practices that potentially could be exploited

SCA identifies known vulnerabilities in the libraries and components you are using and this is the main attack vector on applications.

DAST identifies some of the weaknesses that SAST and SCA identified, but also identifies weaknesses in the configuration. You might have the perfect application code with zero vulnerabilities, but if it is misconfigured, for instance using a default password, it still can be breached.

If you have to choose, look at SCA and then DATS first as that gives you the best bang for your buck from a risk reduction perspective

author avatar
Top 5LeaderboardReal User

Both SAST and DAST are complementary to each other.  The best approach is to include both SAST and DAST.

SAST: Inspects underlying source code, requires understanding of source design, Is  utilized early in the development cycle and the average cost to remediate issues is low

DAST: Requires the application running, performs hacker-like (black box) testing, 

Utilized much later in the development cycle and the average cost to remediate issues is higher

If we look at OWASP Top 10 2021 changes, SAST or DAST will not cover all of them individually. In addition, we also need SCA to be done to look at open source vulnerabilities.

author avatar
Top 5Vendor

It’s a false choice of a question but DAST exist because folks don’t trust their SAST tool. DAST is good about true positives but bad about false negatives. SAST just has a reputation for false positives but a new generation of SAST tools do a much better job.

author avatar
Top 20Real User

Both. They are not in competition with each other.
SAST is used for analyzing your written code for practices and patterns that are risky or vulnerable.
DAST is used @ runtime for analyzing the app for vulnerabilities as shown in other ways on the runtime memory stack, etc.
Both provide different value.

Look into RASP vs DAST vs IAST as well.

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