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Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) Benefits | 7 Advantages


Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) works in fundamentally different ways than static or dynamic testing tools using instrumentation technology. IAST leverages information from inside the running application, including runtime requests, data flow, control flow, libraries, and connections, to find vulnerabilities accurately.

Because of this, interactive testing works better for application security than static or dynamic testing. That's why we created Contrast Security -- to utilize next-generation technology to solve the growing problems inside the application security field. 

The 7 Advantages of IAST over SAST and DAST

Benefits of Interactive Application Security Testing vs. Static Application Security Testing and Dynamic Application Security Testing 
  1. False Positives. False positives represent the single biggest weakness in application security tools, commonly representing over 50% of the results. False positives increase the workload on scarce security resources and make it difficult to identify the most critical flaws, decreasing the utility of technologically-dated scanners. The benefit of interactive application security testing vs other types of application security testing is access to more data leads to more accurate findings.

  2. Vulnerability Coverage. Let's talk about benefits of standard rule sets found in interactive application security testing tools. Interactive analysis provides the best of static and dynamic testing. Not only do interactive application security testing tools focus on the most common and most risky flaws found in applications, but they also allow for custom rules to personalize the threat coverage for specific enterprises.

  3. Code Coverage. Static doesn't examine libraries or frameworks, severely limiting vulnerability analysis. Dynamic can only examine an application's exposed surface. Both static and dynamic miss huge portions of most applications. But IAST benefits include being able to examine the entire application from the inside -- including the libraries and frameworks. So you get the advantage of better coverage over your entire codebase.

  4. Scalability. Static and dynamic tools don't scale well. They typically require experts to set up and run the tool as well as interpret the results. But the size and complexity of an application don't affect interactive application security testing, which can handle extremely large applications in stride.

  5. Instant Feedback. Static and dynamic tools get run on a periodic basis, which means the lag time between the mistake and the vulnerability detection could be weeks, months, or even years. IAST provides the benefits of instant feedback to a developer, within seconds of coding and testing new code. Developers can be sure they are only checking in "clean" code, saving time and money downstream.

  6. No Experts Required. When you buy something, you just want it to work. Out of the box. No downloads, no updates, no configurations. You just want it to work. The team will realize the full extent of application security benefits when interactive tools eliminate months of configuration, tuning, and customization. With interactive tools, as the application is exercised, the application is tested. Continuously. Automatically. Without you doing anything extra.

  7. Zero Process Disruption. Businesses put a premium on time-to-market. Agile and DevOps strategies limit testing time. Because interactive application testing operates transparently during normal QA or unit testing, there is no process disruption. Interactive application security testing leverages existing activities to add security testing without separate disruptive activities or schedule breaking checkpoints.

Continuous Application Security Testing

See how IAST compares to other security testing methodologies like DAST/SAST. Learn how IAST benefits application security: 

  • Agent-based technology deploys sensors that work inside applications
  • Automatic Risk Detection in Code Libraries 

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Jeff Williams, Co-Founder, Chief Technology Officer

Jeff Williams, Co-Founder, Chief Technology Officer

Jeff brings more than 20 years of security leadership experience as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Contrast Security. He recently authored the DZone DevSecOps, IAST, and RASP refcards and speaks frequently at conferences including JavaOne (Java Rockstar), BlackHat, QCon, RSA, OWASP, Velocity, and PivotalOne. Jeff is also a founder and major contributor to OWASP, where he served as Global Chairman for 9 years, and created the OWASP Top 10, OWASP Enterprise Security API, OWASP Application Security Verification Standard, XSS Prevention Cheat Sheet, and many more popular open source projects. Jeff has a BA from Virginia, an MA from George Mason, and a JD from Georgetown.