What you need to know about IAST

With computing moving to the cloud, web-based apps and web-based application development have become the ‘talk of the day’. So what is a web-based app? Simply put, it’s a program that can be accessed over the Internet instead of residing within a device.

Very often, these apps tend to run inside a web browser and today dedicated web app developers are vying with each other to build expressive and dynamic web applications for business domains and a host of enterprises. A look at e-commerce, finance, entertainment, e-learning portals will tell you how versatile web development is.

Web developers are always in a hurry to get their apps into the market and often don’t exercise enough care to guarantee against code vulnerabilities. Security and quality consistency are given a go-by and hackers revel in this laxity in application security. To make these web apps foolproof, web- development and application security needs to go hand in hand. This would mean that software bugs, code flaws, and vulnerabilities are identified before the software is actually launched, ensuring a stronger and more reliable code.

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 A number of tools help to do this job and they include IAST, SAST, and DAST. DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) helps to find externally visible vulnerabilities while SAST (Static Application Security Testing) helps identify the threats within the code itself. While this may seem adequate on the face of it, both these technologies have failed to provide adequate cover when it comes to securing mobile apps and the modern web.

The new kid around the block- IAST ((Interactive Application Security Testing) is a new security tool that not only overcomes the limitations of the older tools but also helps analyze code in a dynamic manner- while it’s actually being executed within the server. It monitors data within the app, identifies issues that could arise from real attacks and detects security vulnerabilities across the system. IAST is a glorified debugger of sorts.

The key to its success is probably the tool’s ability to run automated tests on a continuous basis on software that is being developed. The Code is analyzed line by line and interaction of the code with sensitive data is monitored across the entire application. This gives an idea as to how the app will cope with a malicious attack. IAST thus helps developers develop quality and secure code even as they are coding.

So, why does IAST score over the other tools?

  • IAST tool detects complex vulnerabilities and logical flaws that are not detectable by other technology
  • IAST tool provides all information to fix vulnerabilities as and when they are detected
  • since the application is analyzed during run-time, it helps developers see how vulnerabilities actually take place
  • accurately locates the problem spot in the code
  • As it examines the whole app from within, the entire code-base is subjected to scrutiny, and this means better code coverage
  • IAST remains unfazed by size and complexity of an app as it handles large apps very well
  • The IAST tool can provide instant feedback to the developer, and this is something that they can use to their advantage
  • Unlike the other tools, IAST allows no time to elapse between coding and testing new code. Thus, developers are fairly confident of turning in ‘unadulterated code”
  • business processes are not disturbed as interactive testing operates transparently during normal unit testing- this does away with the need to schedule separate checkpoints

With new apps being tested, debugged and exercised constantly and automatically by the IAST security tool, testing happens faster and more accurately.

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