Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)

If you deploy your web application into a new environment, your application may become exposed to new types of attacks. For example, misconfigurations of your application server or incorrect assumptions about security controls may not be visible from the source code.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) examines applications for vulnerabilities like these in deployed environments. DAST uses the open source tool OWASP Zed Attack Proxy for analysis.

noteTo learn how four of the top six attacks were application-based and how to protect your organization, download our “A Seismic Shift in Application Security” whitepaper.

You can use DAST to examine your web applications:

  • When initiated by a merge request, running as CI/CD pipeline job.
  • On demand, outside the CI/CD pipeline.

After DAST creates its report, GitLab evaluates it for discovered vulnerabilities between the source and target branches. Relevant findings are noted in the merge request.

The comparison logic uses only the latest pipeline executed for the target branch’s base commit. Running the pipeline on other commits has no effect on the merge request.

Prerequisite

To use DAST, ensure you’re using GitLab Runner with the docker executor.

Enable DAST

To enable DAST, either:

Include the DAST template

If you want to manually add DAST to your application, the DAST job is defined in a CI/CD template file. Updates to the template are provided with GitLab upgrades, allowing you to benefit from any improvements and additions.

To include the DAST template:

  1. Select the CI/CD template you want to use:

    cautionThe latest version of the template may include breaking changes. Use the stable template unless you need a feature provided only in the latest template.

    For more information about template versioning, see the CI/CD documentation.

  2. Add a dast stage to your GitLab CI stages configuration:

     stages:
       - dast
    
  3. Add the template to GitLab, based on your version of GitLab:

    • In GitLab 11.9 and later, include the template by adding the following to your .gitlab-ci.yml file:

      include:
        - template: <template_file.yml>
      
      variables:
        DAST_WEBSITE: https://example.com
      
    • In GitLab 11.8 and earlier, add the contents of the template to your .gitlab_ci.yml file.

  4. Define the URL to be scanned by DAST by using one of these methods:

    • Set the DAST_WEBSITE CI/CD variable. If set, this value takes precedence.

    • Add the URL in an environment_url.txt file at the root of your project. This is useful for testing in dynamic environments. To run DAST against an application dynamically created during a GitLab CI/CD pipeline, a job that runs prior to the DAST scan must persist the application’s domain in an environment_url.txt file. DAST automatically parses the environment_url.txt file to find its scan target.

      For example, in a job that runs prior to DAST, you could include code that looks similar to:

      script:
        - echo http://${CI_PROJECT_ID}-${CI_ENVIRONMENT_SLUG}.domain.com > environment_url.txt
      artifacts:
        paths: [environment_url.txt]
        when: always
      

      You can see an example of this in our Auto DevOps CI YAML file.

The included template creates a dast job in your CI/CD pipeline and scans your project’s running application for possible vulnerabilities.

The results are saved as a DAST report artifact that you can later download and analyze. Due to implementation limitations, we always take the latest DAST artifact available. Behind the scenes, the GitLab DAST Docker image is used to run the tests on the specified URL and scan it for possible vulnerabilities.

By default, the DAST template uses the latest major version of the DAST Docker image. Using the DAST_VERSION variable, you can choose how DAST updates:

  • Automatically update DAST with new features and fixes by pinning to a major version (such as 1).
  • Only update fixes by pinning to a minor version (such as 1.6).
  • Prevent all updates by pinning to a specific version (such as 1.6.4).

Find the latest DAST versions on the Releases page.

Deployment options

Depending on the complexity of the target application, there are a few options as to how to deploy and configure the DAST template. A set of example applications with their configurations have been made available in our DAST demonstrations project.

Review Apps

Review Apps are the most involved method of deploying your DAST target application. To assist in the process, we created a Review App deployment using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). This example can be found in our Review Apps - GKE project along with detailed instructions in the README.md on how to configure Review Apps for DAST.

Docker Services

If your application utilizes Docker containers you have another option for deploying and scanning with DAST. After your Docker build job completes and your image is added to your container registry, you can utilize the image as a service.

By using service definitions in your gitlab-ci.yml, you can scan services with the DAST analyzer.

stages:
  - build
  - dast

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

# Deploys the container to the GitLab container registry
deploy:
  services:
  - name: docker:dind
    alias: dind
  image: docker:19.03.5
  stage: build
  script:
    - docker login -u gitlab-ci-token -p $CI_JOB_TOKEN $CI_REGISTRY
    - docker pull $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:latest || true
    - docker build --tag $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:$CI_COMMIT_SHA --tag $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:latest .
    - docker push $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
    - docker push $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:latest

services: # use services to link your app container to the dast job
  - name: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
    alias: yourapp

variables:
  DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED: "true" # do a full scan
  DAST_ZAP_USE_AJAX_SPIDER: "true" # use the ajax spider

Most applications depend on multiple services such as databases or caching services. By default, services defined in the services fields cannot communicate with each another. To allow communication between services, enable the FF_NETWORK_PER_BUILD feature flag.

variables:
  FF_NETWORK_PER_BUILD: "true" # enable network per build so all services can communicate on the same network

services: # use services to link the container to the dast job
  - name: mongo:latest
    alias: mongo
  - name: $CI_REGISTRY_IMAGE:$CI_COMMIT_SHA
    alias: yourapp

DAST application analysis

DAST can analyze applications in two ways:

  • Passive scan only (DAST default). DAST executes ZAP’s Baseline Scan and doesn’t actively attack your application.
  • Passive and active scan. DAST can be configured to also perform an active scan to attack your application and produce a more extensive security report. It can be very useful when combined with Review Apps.

Note that a pipeline may consist of multiple jobs, including SAST and DAST scanning. If any job fails to finish for any reason, the security dashboard doesn’t show DAST scanner output. For example, if the DAST job finishes but the SAST job fails, the security dashboard doesn’t show DAST results. On failure, the analyzer outputs an exit code.

DAST job order

When using the DAST.gitlab-ci.yml template, the dast job is run last as shown in the example below. To ensure DAST is scanning the latest code, your CI pipeline should deploy changes to the web server in one of the jobs preceding the dast job.

stages:
  - build
  - test
  - deploy
  - dast

Be aware that if your pipeline is configured to deploy to the same webserver in each run, running a pipeline while another is still running could cause a race condition where one pipeline overwrites the code from another pipeline. The site to be scanned should be excluded from changes for the duration of a DAST scan. The only changes to the site should be from the DAST scanner. Be aware that any changes that users, scheduled tasks, database changes, code changes, other pipelines, or other scanners make to the site during a scan could lead to inaccurate results.

Hide sensitive information

Introduced in GitLab 13.1.

HTTP request and response headers may contain sensitive information, including cookies and authorization credentials. By default, the following headers are masked:

  • Authorization.
  • Proxy-Authorization.
  • Set-Cookie (values only).
  • Cookie (values only).

Using the DAST_MASK_HTTP_HEADERS CI/CD variable, you can list the headers whose values you want masked. For details on how to mask headers, see Customizing the DAST settings.

Authentication

It’s also possible to authenticate the user before performing the DAST checks.

noteWe highly recommended that you configure the scanner to authenticate to the application, otherwise it cannot check most of the application for security risks, as most of your application is likely not accessible without authentication. It is also recommended that you periodically confirm the scanner’s authentication is still working as this tends to break over time due to authentication changes to the application.

Create masked CI/CD variables to pass the credentials that DAST uses. To create masked variables for the username and password, see Create a custom variable in the UI. Note that the key of the username variable must be DAST_USERNAME and the key of the password variable must be DAST_PASSWORD.

After DAST has authenticated with the application, all cookies are collected from the web browser. For each cookie a matching session token is created for use by ZAP. This ensures ZAP is recognized by the application as correctly authenticated.

Other variables that are related to authenticated scans are:

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_WEBSITE: https://example.com
  DAST_AUTH_URL: https://example.com/sign-in
  DAST_USERNAME_FIELD: session[user]  # the name of username field at the sign-in HTML form
  DAST_PASSWORD_FIELD: session[password]  # the name of password field at the sign-in HTML form
  DAST_SUBMIT_FIELD: login # the `id` or `name` of the element that when clicked will submit the login form or the password form of a multi-page login process
  DAST_FIRST_SUBMIT_FIELD: next # the `id` or `name` of the element that when clicked will submit the username form of a multi-page login process
  DAST_EXCLUDE_URLS: http://example.com/sign-out,http://example.com/sign-out-2  # optional, URLs to skip during the authenticated scan; comma-separated, no spaces in between
  DAST_AUTH_VALIDATION_URL: http://example.com/loggedin_page  # optional, a URL only accessible to logged in users that DAST can use to confirm successful authentication

The results are saved as a DAST report artifact that you can later download and analyze. Due to implementation limitations, we always take the latest DAST artifact available.

cautionNEVER run an authenticated scan against a production server. When an authenticated scan is run, it may perform any function that the authenticated user can. This includes actions like modifying and deleting data, submitting forms, and following links. Only run an authenticated scan against a test server.

Full scan

DAST can be configured to perform ZAP Full Scan, which includes both passive and active scanning against the same target website:

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED: "true"

If your DAST job exceeds the job timeout and you need to reduce the scan duration, we shared some tips for optimizing DAST scans in a blog post.

Domain validation

cautionIn GitLab 13.8, domain validation, outside of the new on-demand scan site profile validation, was deprecated. In GitLab 14.0, domain validation in CI/CD jobs will be permanently removed.

The DAST job can be run anywhere, which means you can accidentally hit live web servers and potentially damage them. You could even take down your production environment. For that reason, you should use domain validation.

Domain validation is not required by default. It can be required by setting the CI/CD variable DAST_FULL_SCAN_DOMAIN_VALIDATION_REQUIRED to "true".

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED: "true"
  DAST_FULL_SCAN_DOMAIN_VALIDATION_REQUIRED: "true"

Since ZAP full scan actively attacks the target application, DAST sends a ping to the target (normally defined in DAST_WEBSITE or environment_url.txt) beforehand.

  • If DAST_FULL_SCAN_DOMAIN_VALIDATION_REQUIRED is false or unset, the scan proceeds unless the response to the ping includes a Gitlab-DAST-Permission header with a value of deny.
  • If DAST_FULL_SCAN_DOMAIN_VALIDATION_REQUIRED is true, the scan exits unless the response to the ping includes a Gitlab-DAST-Permission header with a value of allow.

Here are some examples of adding the Gitlab-DAST-Permission header to a response in Rails, Django, and Node (with Express).

Ruby on Rails

Here’s how you would add a custom header in Ruby on Rails:

class DastWebsiteTargetController < ActionController::Base
  def dast_website_target
    response.headers['Gitlab-DAST-Permission'] = 'allow'

    head :ok
  end
end
Django

Here’s how you would add a custom header in Django:

class DastWebsiteTargetView(View):
    def head(self, *args, **kwargs):
      response = HttpResponse()
      response['Gitlab-Dast-Permission'] = 'allow'

      return response
Node (with Express)

Here’s how you would add a custom header in Node (with Express):

app.get('/dast-website-target', function(req, res) {
  res.append('Gitlab-DAST-Permission', 'allow')
  res.send('Respond to DAST ping')
})
Domain validation header via a proxy

It’s also possible to add the Gitlab-DAST-Permission header via a proxy.

NGINX

The following configuration allows NGINX to act as a reverse proxy and add the Gitlab-DAST-Permission header:

# default.conf
server {
    listen 80;
    server_name localhost;

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://test-application;
        add_header Gitlab-DAST-Permission allow;
    }
}
Apache

Apache can also be used as a reverse proxy to add the Gitlab-DAST-Permission header.

To do so, add the following lines to httpd.conf:

# httpd.conf
LoadModule proxy_module modules/mod_proxy.so
LoadModule proxy_connect_module modules/mod_proxy_connect.so
LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/mod_proxy_http.so

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ProxyPass "/" "http://test-application.com/"
  ProxyPassReverse "/" "http://test-application.com/"
  Header set Gitlab-DAST-Permission "allow"
</VirtualHost>

This snippet contains a complete httpd.conf file configured to act as a remote proxy and add the Gitlab-DAST-Permission header.

API scan

Using an API specification as a scan’s target is a useful way to seed URLs for scanning an API. Vulnerability rules in an API scan are different than those in a normal website scan.

Specification format

API scans support OpenAPI V2 and OpenAPI V3 specifications. You can define these specifications using JSON or YAML.

Import API specification from a URL

If your API specification is accessible at a URL, you can pass that URL in directly as the target. The specification does not have to be hosted on the same host as the API being tested.

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_API_SPECIFICATION: http://my.api/api-specification.yml

Import API specification from a file

If your API specification file is in your repository, you can provide its filename as the target. The API specification file must be in the /zap/wrk directory.

dast:
  before_script:
    - mkdir -p /zap/wrk
    - cp api-specification.yml /zap/wrk/api-specification.yml
  variables:
    GIT_STRATEGY: fetch
    DAST_API_SPECIFICATION: api-specification.yml

Full API scan

API scans support full scanning, which can be enabled by using the DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED CI/CD variable. Domain validation is not supported for full API scans.

Host override

Specifications often define a host, which contains a domain name and a port. The host referenced may be different than the host of the API’s review instance. This can cause incorrect URLs to be imported, or a scan on an incorrect host. Use the DAST_API_HOST_OVERRIDE CI/CD variable to override these values.

cautionWhen using the API host override feature, you cannot use the $DAST_WEBSITE variable to override the hostname. A host override is only supported when importing the API specification from a URL. Attempts to override the host throw an error when the API specification is imported from a file. This is due to a limitation in the ZAP OpenAPI extension.

For example, with a OpenAPI V3 specification containing:

servers:
  - url: https://api.host.com

If the test version of the API is running at https://api-test.host.com, then the following DAST configuration can be used:

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_API_SPECIFICATION: http://api-test.host.com/api-specification.yml
  DAST_API_HOST_OVERRIDE: api-test.host.com

Authentication using headers

Tokens in request headers are often used as a way to authenticate API requests. You can achieve this by using the DAST_REQUEST_HEADERS CI/CD variable. Headers are applied to every request DAST makes.

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_API_SPECIFICATION: http://api-test.api.com/api-specification.yml
  DAST_REQUEST_HEADERS: "Authorization: Bearer my.token"

URL scan

Version history

A URL scan allows you to specify which parts of a website are scanned by DAST.

Define the URLs to scan

URLs to scan can be specified by either of the following methods:

  • Use DAST_PATHS_FILE CI/CD variable to specify the name of a file containing the paths.
  • Use DAST_PATHS variable to list the paths.
Use DAST_PATHS_FILE CI/CD variable

Introduced in GitLab 13.6.

To define the URLs to scan in a file, create a plain text file with one path per line.

page1.html
/page2.html
category/shoes/page1.html

To scan the URLs in that file, set the CI/CD variable DAST_PATHS_FILE to the path of that file. The file can be checked into the project repository or generated as an artifact by a job that runs before DAST.

By default, DAST scans do not clone the project repository. Instruct the DAST job to clone the project by setting GIT_STRATEGY to fetch. Give a file path relative to CI_PROJECT_DIR to DAST_PATHS_FILE.

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  GIT_STRATEGY: fetch
  DAST_PATHS_FILE: url_file.txt  # url_file.txt lives in the root directory of the project
Use DAST_PATHS CI/CD variable

Introduced in GitLab 13.4.

To specify the paths to scan in a CI/CD variable, add a comma-separated list of the paths to the DAST_PATHS variable. Note that you can only scan paths of a single host.

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_PATHS: "/page1.html,/category1/page1.html,/page3.html"

When using DAST_PATHS and DAST_PATHS_FILE, note the following:

  • DAST_WEBSITE must be defined when using either DAST_PATHS_FILE or DAST_PATHS. The paths listed in either use DAST_WEBSITE to build the URLs to scan
  • Spidering is disabled when DAST_PATHS or DAST_PATHS_FILE are defined
  • DAST_PATHS_FILE and DAST_PATHS can not be used together
  • The DAST_PATHS variable has a limit of about 130kb. If you have a list or paths greater than this, use DAST_PATHS_FILE.

Full Scan

To perform a full scan on the listed paths, use the DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED CI/CD variable.

Customizing the DAST settings

cautionBeginning in GitLab 13.0, the use of only and except is no longer supported. When overriding the template, you must use rules instead.

The DAST settings can be changed through CI/CD variables by using the variables parameter in .gitlab-ci.yml. These variables are documented in available variables.

For example:

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_WEBSITE: https://example.com
  DAST_SPIDER_MINS: 120

Because the template is evaluated before the pipeline configuration, the last mention of the variable takes precedence.

Available variables

DAST can be configured using CI/CD variables.

CI/CD variable Type Description
SECURE_ANALYZERS_PREFIX URL Set the Docker registry base address from which to download the analyzer.
DAST_WEBSITE URL The URL of the website to scan. DAST_API_SPECIFICATION must be specified if this is omitted.
DAST_API_SPECIFICATION URL or string The API specification to import. The specification can be hosted at a URL, or the name of a file present in the /zap/wrk directory. DAST_WEBSITE must be specified if this is omitted.
DAST_SPIDER_START_AT_HOST boolean Set to false to prevent DAST from resetting the target to its host before scanning. When true, non-host targets http://test.site/some_path is reset to http://test.site before scan. Default: true. Introduced in GitLab 13.6.
DAST_AUTH_URL URL The URL of the page containing the sign-in HTML form on the target website. DAST_USERNAME and DAST_PASSWORD are submitted with the login form to create an authenticated scan. Not supported for API scans.
DAST_AUTH_VALIDATION_URL URL A URL only accessible to logged in users that DAST can use to confirm successful authentication. If provided, DAST will exit if it cannot access the URL. Introduced in GitLab 13.8.
DAST_USERNAME string The username to authenticate to in the website.
DAST_PASSWORD string The password to authenticate to in the website.
DAST_USERNAME_FIELD string The name of username field at the sign-in HTML form.
DAST_PASSWORD_FIELD string The name of password field at the sign-in HTML form.
DAST_SKIP_TARGET_CHECK boolean Set to true to prevent DAST from checking that the target is available before scanning. Default: false. Introduced in GitLab 13.8.
DAST_MASK_HTTP_HEADERS string Comma-separated list of request and response headers to be masked (GitLab 13.1). Must contain all headers to be masked. Refer to list of headers that are masked by default.
DAST_EXCLUDE_URLS URLs The URLs to skip during the authenticated scan; comma-separated. Regular expression syntax can be used to match multiple URLs. For example, .* matches an arbitrary character sequence. Not supported for API scans.
DAST_FULL_SCAN_ENABLED boolean Set to true to run a ZAP Full Scan instead of a ZAP Baseline Scan. Default: false
DAST_FULL_SCAN_DOMAIN_VALIDATION_REQUIRED boolean Deprecated in GitLab 13.8, to be removed in 14.0. Set to true to require domain validation when running DAST full scans. Not supported for API scans. Default: false
DAST_AUTO_UPDATE_ADDONS boolean ZAP add-ons are pinned to specific versions in the DAST Docker image. Set to true to download the latest versions when the scan starts. Default: false
DAST_API_HOST_OVERRIDE string Used to override domains defined in API specification files. Only supported when importing the API specification from a URL. Example: example.com:8080
DAST_EXCLUDE_RULES string Set to a comma-separated list of Vulnerability Rule IDs to exclude them from running during the scan. Rule IDs are numbers and can be found from the DAST log or on the ZAP project. For example, HTTP Parameter Override has a rule ID of 10026. Note: In earlier versions of GitLab the excluded rules were executed but alerts they generated were suppressed. Introduced in GitLab 12.10.
DAST_REQUEST_HEADERS string Set to a comma-separated list of request header names and values. Headers are added to every request made by DAST. For example, Cache-control: no-cache,User-Agent: DAST/1.0
DAST_DEBUG boolean Enable debug message output. Default: false. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_SPIDER_MINS number The maximum duration of the spider scan in minutes. Set to 0 for unlimited. Default: One minute, or unlimited when the scan is a full scan. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_HTML_REPORT string The filename of the HTML report written at the end of a scan. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_MARKDOWN_REPORT string The filename of the Markdown report written at the end of a scan. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_XML_REPORT string The filename of the XML report written at the end of a scan. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_INCLUDE_ALPHA_VULNERABILITIES boolean Set to true to include alpha passive and active scan rules. Default: false. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_USE_AJAX_SPIDER boolean Set to true to use the AJAX spider in addition to the traditional spider, useful for crawling sites that require JavaScript. Default: false. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_PATHS string Set to a comma-separated list of URLs for DAST to scan. For example, /page1.html,/category1/page3.html,/page2.html. Introduced in GitLab 13.4.
DAST_PATHS_FILE string The file path containing the paths within DAST_WEBSITE to scan. The file must be plain text with one path per line. Introduced in GitLab 13.6.
DAST_SUBMIT_FIELD string The id or name of the element that when clicked submits the login form or the password form of a multi-page login process. Introduced in GitLab 12.4.
DAST_FIRST_SUBMIT_FIELD string The id or name of the element that when clicked submits the username form of a multi-page login process. Introduced in GitLab 12.4.
DAST_ZAP_CLI_OPTIONS string ZAP server command-line options. For example, -Xmx3072m would set the Java maximum memory allocation pool size. Introduced in GitLab 13.1.
DAST_ZAP_LOG_CONFIGURATION string Set to a semicolon-separated list of additional log4j properties for the ZAP Server. For example, log4j.logger.org.parosproxy.paros.network.HttpSender=DEBUG;log4j.logger.com.crawljax=DEBUG
DAST_AUTH_EXCLUDE_URLS URLs Deprecated in GitLab 13.8, to be removed in 14.0, and replaced by DAST_EXCLUDE_URLS. The URLs to skip during the authenticated scan; comma-separated. Regular expression syntax can be used to match multiple URLs. For example, .* matches an arbitrary character sequence. Not supported for API scans.

DAST command-line options

Not all DAST configuration is available via CI/CD variables. To find out all possible options, run the following configuration. Available command-line options are printed to the job log:

include:
  template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

dast:
  script:
    - /analyze --help

You must then overwrite the script command to pass in the appropriate argument. For example, vulnerability definitions in alpha can be included with -a. The following configuration includes those definitions:

include:
  template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

dast:
  script:
    - export DAST_WEBSITE=${DAST_WEBSITE:-$(cat environment_url.txt)}
    - /analyze -a -t $DAST_WEBSITE

Custom ZAProxy configuration

The ZAProxy server contains many useful configurable values. Many key/values for -config remain undocumented, but there is an untested list of possible keys. Note that these options are not supported by DAST, and may break the DAST scan when used. An example of how to rewrite the Authorization header value with TOKEN follows:

include:
  template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_ZAP_CLI_OPTIONS: "-config replacer.full_list(0).description=auth -config replacer.full_list(0).enabled=true -config replacer.full_list(0).matchtype=REQ_HEADER -config replacer.full_list(0).matchstr=Authorization -config replacer.full_list(0).regex=false -config replacer.full_list(0).replacement=TOKEN"

Bleeding-edge vulnerability definitions

ZAP first creates rules in the alpha class. After a testing period with the community, they are promoted to beta. DAST uses beta definitions by default. To request alpha definitions, use the DAST_INCLUDE_ALPHA_VULNERABILITIES CI/CD variable as shown in the following configuration:

include:
  template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

variables:
  DAST_INCLUDE_ALPHA_VULNERABILITIES: "true"

Cloning the project’s repository

The DAST job does not require the project’s repository to be present when running, so by default GIT_STRATEGY is set to none.

Debugging DAST jobs

A DAST job has two executing processes:

  • The ZAP server.
  • A series of scripts that start, control and stop the ZAP server.

Debug mode of the scripts can be enabled by using the DAST_DEBUG CI/CD variable. This can help when troubleshooting the job, and outputs statements indicating what percentage of the scan is complete. For details on using variables, see Overriding the DAST template.

Debug mode of the ZAP server can be enabled using the DAST_ZAP_LOG_CONFIGURATION variable. The following table outlines examples of values that can be set and the effect that they have on the output that is logged. Multiple values can be specified, separated by semicolons.

Log configuration value Effect
log4j.rootLogger=DEBUG Enable all debug logging statements.
log4j.logger.org.apache.commons.httpclient=DEBUG Log every HTTP request and response made by the ZAP server.
log4j.logger.org.zaproxy.zap.spider.SpiderController=DEBUG Log URLs found during the spider scan of the target.
log4j.logger.com.crawljax=DEBUG Enable Ajax Crawler debug logging statements.
log4j.logger.org.parosproxy.paros=DEBUG Enable ZAP server proxy debug logging statements.
log4j.logger.org.zaproxy.zap=DEBUG Enable debug logging statements of the general ZAP server code.

Running DAST in an offline environment

For self-managed GitLab instances in an environment with limited, restricted, or intermittent access to external resources through the internet, some adjustments are required for the DAST job to successfully run. For more information, see Offline environments.

Requirements for offline DAST support

To use DAST in an offline environment, you need:

Note that GitLab Runner has a default pull policy of always, meaning the runner tries to pull Docker images from the GitLab container registry even if a local copy is available. The GitLab Runner pull_policy can be set to if-not-present in an offline environment if you prefer using only locally available Docker images. However, we recommend keeping the pull policy setting to always if not in an offline environment, as this enables the use of updated scanners in your CI/CD pipelines.

Make GitLab DAST analyzer images available inside your Docker registry

For DAST, import the following default DAST analyzer image from registry.gitlab.com to your local Docker container registry:

  • registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/security-products/dast:latest

The process for importing Docker images into a local offline Docker registry depends on your network security policy. Please consult your IT staff to find an accepted and approved process by which external resources can be imported or temporarily accessed. Note that these scanners are updated periodically with new definitions, so consider if you’re able to make periodic updates yourself.

For details on saving and transporting Docker images as a file, see Docker’s documentation on docker save, docker load, docker export, and docker import.

Set DAST CI/CD job variables to use local DAST analyzers

Add the following configuration to your .gitlab-ci.yml file. You must replace image to refer to the DAST Docker image hosted on your local Docker container registry:

include:
  - template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml
dast:
  image: registry.example.com/namespace/dast:latest

The DAST job should now use local copies of the DAST analyzers to scan your code and generate security reports without requiring internet access.

Alternatively, you can use the CI/CD variable SECURE_ANALYZERS_PREFIX to override the base registry address of the dast image.

On-demand scans

Version history

An on-demand DAST scan runs outside the DevOps life cycle. Changes in your repository don’t trigger the scan. You must start it manually.

An on-demand DAST scan:

  • Can run a specific combination of a site profile and a scanner profile.
  • Is associated with your project’s default branch.
  • Is saved on creation so it can be run later.

In GitLab 13.10 and later, you can select to run an on-demand scan against a specific branch.

On-demand scan modes

An on-demand scan can be run in active or passive mode:

  • Passive mode is the default and runs a ZAP Baseline Scan.
  • Active mode runs a ZAP Full Scan which is potentially harmful to the site being scanned. To minimize the risk of accidental damage, running an active scan requires a validated site profile.

Run an on-demand DAST scan

noteYou must have permission to run an on-demand DAST scan against a protected branch. The default branch is automatically protected. For more information, see Pipeline security on protected branches.

Prerequisites:

To run an on-demand scan, either:

Create and run an on-demand scan

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > On-demand Scans in the left sidebar.
  2. Complete the Scan name and Description fields.
  3. In GitLab 13.10 and later, select the desired branch from the Branch dropdown.
  4. In Scanner profile, select a scanner profile from the dropdown.
  5. In Site profile, select a site profile from the dropdown.
  6. To run the on-demand scan now, select Save and run scan. Otherwise select Save scan to run it later.

The on-demand DAST scan runs and the project’s dashboard shows the results.

List saved on-demand scans

To list saved on-demand scans:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select the Saved Scans tab.

View details of an on-demand scan

To view details of an on-demand scan:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select Manage DAST scans.
  3. Select Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  4. Select the Saved Scans tab.
  5. In the saved scan’s row select More actions (), then select Edit.

Run a saved on-demand scan

To run a saved on-demand scan:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select Manage DAST scans.
  3. Select Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  4. Select the Saved Scans tab.
  5. In the scan’s row select Run scan.

    If the branch saved in the scan no longer exists, you must first edit the scan, select a new branch, and save the edited scan.

The on-demand DAST scan runs and the project’s dashboard shows the results.

Edit an on-demand scan

To edit an on-demand scan:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select Manage DAST scans.
  3. Select Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  4. Select the Saved Scans tab.
  5. In the saved scan’s row select More actions (), then select Edit.
  6. Edit the form.
  7. Select Save scan.

Delete an on-demand scan

To delete an on-demand scan:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select Manage DAST scans.
  3. Select Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  4. Select the Saved Scans tab.
  5. In the saved scan’s row select More actions (), then select Delete.
  6. Select Delete to confirm the deletion.

Site profile

A site profile describes the attributes of a web site to scan on demand with DAST. A site profile is required for an on-demand DAST scan.

A site profile contains the following:

  • Profile name: A name you assign to the site to be scanned.
  • Target URL: The URL that DAST runs against.
  • Excluded URLs: A comma-separated list of URLs to exclude from the scan.
  • Request headers: A comma-separated list of HTTP request headers, including names and values. These headers are added to every request made by DAST.
  • Authentication:
    • Authenticated URL: The URL of the page containing the sign-in HTML form on the target website. The username and password are submitted with the login form to create an authenticated scan.
    • Username: The username used to authenticate to the website.
    • Password: The password used to authenticate to the website.
    • Username form field: The name of username field at the sign-in HTML form.
    • Password form field: The name of password field at the sign-in HTML form.

Site profile validation

Introduced in GitLab 13.8.

Site profile validation reduces the risk of running an active scan against the wrong website. A site must be validated before an active scan can run against it. The site validation methods are as follows:

  • Text file validation requires a text file be uploaded to the target site. The text file is allocated a name and content that is unique to the project. The validation process checks the file’s content.
  • Header validation requires the header Gitlab-On-Demand-DAST be added to the target site, with a value unique to the project. The validation process checks that the header is present, and checks its value.

Both methods are equivalent in functionality. Use whichever is feasible.

Create a site profile

To create a site profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Select Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  3. Select New > Site Profile.
  4. Complete the fields then select Save profile.

The site profile is created.

Edit a site profile

To edit an existing site profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. In the DAST Profiles row select Manage.
  3. Select the Site Profiles tab.
  4. In the profile’s row select the More actions () menu, then select Edit.
  5. Edit the fields then select Save profile.

If a site profile is linked to a security policy, a user cannot edit the profile from this page. See Scan Policies for more information.

Delete a site profile

To delete an existing site profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. In the DAST Profiles row select Manage.
  3. Select the Site Profiles tab.
  4. In the profile’s row select the More actions () menu, then select Delete.
  5. Select Delete to confirm the deletion.

If a site profile is linked to a security policy, a user cannot delete the profile from this page. See Scan Policies for more information.

Validate a site profile

Prerequisites:

  • A site profile.

To validate a site profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. In the DAST Profiles row select Manage.
  3. Select the Site Profiles tab.
  4. In the profile’s row select Validate or Retry validation.
  5. Select the validation method.
    1. For Text file validation:
      1. Download the validation file listed in Step 2.
      2. Upload the validation file to the host. Upload the file to the location in Step 3 or any location you prefer.
      3. Select Validate.
    2. For Header validation:
      1. Select the clipboard icon in Step 2.
      2. Edit the header of the site to validate, and paste the clipboard content.
      3. Select the input field in Step 3 and enter the location of the header.
      4. Select Validate.

The site is validated and an active scan can run against it.

If a validated site profile’s target URL is edited, the site’s validation status is revoked.

Revoke a site profile’s validation status

Note that all site profiles with the same URL have their validation status revoked.

To revoke a site profile’s validation status:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. In the DAST Profiles row select Manage.
  3. Select Revoke validation beside the validated profile.

The site profile’s validation status is revoked.

Validated site profile headers

The following are code samples of how you can provide the required site profile header in your application.

Ruby on Rails example for on-demand scan

Here’s how you can add a custom header in a Ruby on Rails application:

class DastWebsiteTargetController < ActionController::Base
  def dast_website_target
    response.headers['Gitlab-On-Demand-DAST'] = '0dd79c9a-7b29-4e26-a815-eaaf53fcab1c'
    head :ok
  end
end
Django example for on-demand scan

Here’s how you can add a custom header in Django:

class DastWebsiteTargetView(View):
    def head(self, *args, **kwargs):
      response = HttpResponse()
      response['Gitlab-On-Demand-DAST'] = '0dd79c9a-7b29-4e26-a815-eaaf53fcab1c'

      return response
Node (with Express) example for on-demand scan

Here’s how you can add a custom header in Node (with Express):

app.get('/dast-website-target', function(req, res) {
  res.append('Gitlab-On-Demand-DAST', '0dd79c9a-7b29-4e26-a815-eaaf53fcab1c')
  res.send('Respond to DAST ping')
})

Scanner profile

Version history
  • Introduced in GitLab 13.4.
  • Added in GitLab 13.5: scan mode, AJAX spider, debug messages.

A scanner profile defines the scanner settings used to run an on-demand scan:

  • Profile name: A name you give the scanner profile. For example, “Spider_15”.
  • Scan mode: A passive scan monitors all HTTP messages (requests and responses) sent to the target. An active scan attacks the target to find potential vulnerabilities.
  • Spider timeout: The maximum number of minutes allowed for the spider to traverse the site.
  • Target timeout: The maximum number of seconds DAST waits for the site to be available before starting the scan.
  • AJAX spider: Run the AJAX spider, in addition to the traditional spider, to crawl the target site.
  • Debug messages: Include debug messages in the DAST console output.

Create a scanner profile

To create a scanner profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. In the DAST Profiles row select Manage.
  3. Select New > Scanner Profile.
  4. Complete the form. For details of each field, see Scanner profile.
  5. Click Save profile.

Edit a scanner profile

To edit a scanner profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Click Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  3. Select the Scanner Profiles tab.
  4. In the scanner’s row select the More actions () menu, then select Edit.
  5. Edit the form.
  6. Select Save profile.

If a scanner profile is linked to a security policy, a user cannot edit the profile from this page. See Scan Policies for more information.

Delete a scanner profile

To delete a scanner profile:

  1. From your project’s home page, go to Security & Compliance > Configuration.
  2. Click Manage in the DAST Profiles row.
  3. Select the Scanner Profiles tab.
  4. In the scanner’s row select the More actions () menu, then select Delete.
  5. Select Delete.

If a scanner profile is linked to a security policy, a user cannot delete the profile from this page. See Scan Policies for more information.

Reports

The DAST tool outputs a report file in JSON format by default. However, this tool can also generate reports in Markdown, HTML, and XML. For more information, see the schema for DAST reports.

List of URLs scanned

When DAST completes scanning, the merge request page states the number of URLs scanned. Click View details to view the web console output which includes the list of scanned URLs.

DAST Widget

JSON

cautionThe JSON report artifacts are not a public API of DAST and their format is expected to change in the future.

The DAST tool always emits a JSON report file called gl-dast-report.json and sample reports can be found in the DAST repository.

There are two formats of data in the JSON report that are used side by side:

  • The proprietary ZAP format, which is planned to be deprecated.
  • A common format that is planned to the default in the future.

Other formats

Reports can also be generated in Markdown, HTML, and XML. These can be published as artifacts using the following configuration:

include:
  template: DAST.gitlab-ci.yml

dast:
  variables:
    DAST_HTML_REPORT: report.html
    DAST_MARKDOWN_REPORT: report.md
    DAST_XML_REPORT: report.xml
  artifacts:
    paths:
      - $DAST_HTML_REPORT
      - $DAST_MARKDOWN_REPORT
      - $DAST_XML_REPORT
      - gl-dast-report.json

Optimizing DAST

By default, DAST downloads all artifacts defined by previous jobs in the pipeline. If your DAST job does not rely on environment_url.txt to define the URL under test or any other files created in previous jobs, we recommend you don’t download artifacts. To avoid downloading artifacts, add the following to your gitlab-ci.yml file:

dast:
   dependencies: []