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Dynamic Analysis

Definition: Dynamic analysis is the evaluation of a computer system, program, or application by executing it and observing its behaviour and outputs during runtime, in contrast to static analysis, which examines the code without executing the program.

Dynamic analysis is used to identify potential security vulnerabilities, memory leaks, and other issues that may not be apparent through static code analysis alone. By running applications in a controlled environment, security professionals can observe how software behaves under different conditions, including attempts to exploit potential vulnerabilities.

Dynamic analysis can be performed on different types of software and systems, but it is especially valuable in identifying complex runtime security problems like race conditions, buffer overflows, and other issues with how the software logically handles data and operations. Tools for dynamic analysis may include automated fuzzing tools, debuggers, and other utilities that monitor the system’s operations while the software is running.

Implementing dynamic analysis as part of a security strategy allows for the identification and mitigation of risks that could lead to a compromise of system integrity, data breaches, or system unavailability if exploited. It’s a critical component of a thorough testing regime, complementing static analysis for a comprehensive understanding of an application’s security posture.

Key Characteristics:

  • Involves executing the program to observe its real-time behaviour
  • Detects problems only apparent during program execution
  • Useful for uncovering runtime vulnerabilities
  • Often employs various tools like fuzzers and debuggers


  • Real-World Example: An ethical hacker uses dynamic analysis tools to test a web application’s resilience to SQL injection attacks by simulating attack vectors and observing how the application handles malicious inputs.
  • Hypothetical Scenario: A security engineer running a dynamic analysis tool against a new messaging app finds a buffer overflow vulnerability that occurs only when a message contains a specific set of characters, which could be exploited by an attacker.

Related Terms:

  • Static Analysis: A method of computer program debugging done by examining the code without executing the program, a complement to dynamic analysis.
  • Fuzzing: An automated software testing technique that involves providing invalid, unexpected, or random data as input to an application during dynamic analysis.
  • Buffer Overflow: A common software coding mistake that dynamic analysis tools can help identify, where a program writes data beyond the allocated memory boundaries.
  • Debugging: A part of dynamic analysis involving finding and resolving software defects or problems within a program while it is in execution.

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