Web Application Security Testing: Here’s the Complete Guide

by Rupali Rana

As cloud and mobile applications become more prevalent, the need for comprehensive security testing increases. Many companies are looking to outsource this process in order to ensure that their data is safe. This guide will introduce you to the basics of web application testing. It includes the five steps of the testing process, and how to apply it in a DevSecOps environment.

Introduction to Web Application Security Testing

Web application security testing is the process of assessing the security of a web application. This can be done manually or through automated tools. The goal of web application testing is to identify vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to gain access to sensitive data, execute malicious code, or disrupt the normal functioning of the application.

Why Is Web Application Security Testing Important?

As businesses move more of their operations to the Cloud, new risks arise. Web applications are a prime target for attackers because they often contain sensitive data such as customer information, financial data, and intellectual property. Furthermore, web applications are typically accessible from anywhere in the world, making them a convenient target for attackers.

If an attacker is able to exploit a vulnerability in a web application, they could gain access to sensitive data, execute malicious code, or disrupt the normal functioning of the application. This could lead to financial loss, reputational damage, and legal liability for the business. Securing your infrastructure is crucial to protecting your business and your customers.

Increasing Demand for Security Testing

The demand for web application security testing is increasing as more businesses move to the cloud. 88% of boards of directors consider cybersecurity to be a business risk, according to a Gartner survey. This is due to the increase in high-profile data breaches. It resulted in financial loss and reputational damage for businesses.

According to an Ermetic survey done in the first half of 2021, 98% of the firms polled suffered at least one cloud data breach in the previous 18 months, a considerable rise from 79% in the previous survey. Furthermore, Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found Web application breaches are responsible for 43% of all breaches and have more than doubled since 2019.

These statistics highlight the importance of web application security testing. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in web applications, businesses can protect themselves from attacks that could lead to data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.

5 Steps of the Security Testing Process

There are five steps in the testing process:

 1. Reconnaissance

The first step in any testing engagement is reconnaissance. This is the process of gathering information about the target system in order to identify potential vulnerabilities. Reconnaissance can be passive or active. Passive reconnaissance involves observing publicly-available information about the target system. Active reconnaissance entails interacting with the system itself in order to gather information.

2. Discovery

Once the tester has gathered information about the target system, the next step is to identify potential vulnerabilities through manual inspection or by using automated tools. Automated tools speed up the process of vulnerability discovery. They can miss subtle vulnerabilities through manual inspection.

3. Exploitation

After identifying potential vulnerabilities, the next step is to attempt to exploit them in order to gain access to the system. This can be done through manual testing or by using automated tools. Automated tools speed up the process of exploitation, but they can miss subtle vulnerabilities through manual testing.

4. Post-Exploitation

After successful exploitation, the next step is to maintain access to the system and collect information about the system and its users. It includes the use of a variety of methods. It includes maintaining a backdoor on the system, using social engineering techniques to gather information from users, or installing a rootkit to maintain stealth access to the system.

5. Reporting

The final step in any security testing engagement is reporting. This involves documenting the findings of the engagement and providing recommendations for remediation. The report should follow the needs of the client and should be easy to understand. It should also include information on the risks associated with the identified vulnerabilities.

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Continuous Security Testing and DevSecOps

Continuous testing is a process whereby the software development life cycle carries out security tests at each stage of the pipeline. This allows for early detection and remediation of security issues and helps to secure applications before deployment.

What Are the Benefits of Continuous Security Testing?

There are several benefits to continuous security testing, including:

  • Reduced risk: By identifying and addressing security issues early in the development process, the overall risk of deploying insecure applications is reduced.
  • Improved security: Continuous security testing helps to ensure that applications are more secure, as potential vulnerabilities are identified and addressed before deployment.
  • Faster feedback: Security testing can be carried out more quickly when it is integrated into the development process, providing faster feedback to developers.
  • Reduced costs: By identifying and addressing security issues early, the costs associated with fixing them later on in the development cycle are reduced.

The DevOps movement has also increased the need for continuous security testing. DevOps is a set of practices that aim to automate and accelerate the software development process. As part of this process, developers and operations teams work together to deliver software faster and more efficiently. DevOps reduces the time to market for new features and products but introduces new security risks at the same time.

To address these risks, many businesses are adopting DevSecOps. DevSecOps is a set of practices that aim to integrate security into the software development process. This includes automating testing and integrating security tools and processes into the DevOps pipeline. By doing this, businesses can ensure that their applications are secure from the start, and they can rapidly respond to security vulnerabilities.

How Can DevOps Teams Implement Continuous Security Testing?

There are a number of ways in which DevOps teams can implement continuous testing, depending on the specific needs of their organization. Some common approaches include:

Integrating Security Testing Into the Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery Pipeline

This involves setting up security tests to run automatically whenever the development branch receives a new code.

Running Security Scans as Part of the Deployment Process

This involves running security scans on applications before deployment to production.

Setting Up a Dedicated Security Team

This involves setting up a separate team whose sole responsibility is to carry out security testing.

Incorporating Security Analysis Into Code Reviews

This involves incorporating security analysis into the code review process to review the code changes for potential security vulnerabilities.

security-team-working-at-large-computer-displays-security-testing-concept

What Are the Challenges When Implementing Continuous Security Testing?

When implementing continuous testing, there are a number of challenges that you may experience, including:

  • Ensuring test coverage: It is important to ensure that all areas of the application are covered by security tests. This can be a challenge when testing complex applications with a large number of dependencies.
  • Managing false positives: False positives can occur when security tests identify potential vulnerabilities that are not actually present in the code. This can lead to development teams spending time investigating and addressing issues that are not actually security risks.
  • Keeping up with changes: As applications evolve, so too do the security risks they face. It is important to ensure that security tests are kept up to date in order to effectively identify new risks.

How Does Continuous Security Testing Fit Into the DevSecOps Pipeline?

Continuous testing is an important part of the DevSecOps pipeline, as it helps to secure the applications before deployment. By integrating security testing into the development process, DevSecOps teams can identify and address security issues early, before they have a chance to impact production systems.

What Are Some Best Practices for Continuous Security Testing?

Some best practices for continuous testing include:

  • Automate as much as possible: Automating security tests can help to speed up the testing process and reduce the chances of human error.
  • Prioritize high-risk areas: Focus security testing on areas of the application that are most likely to be targeted by attackers.
  • Build security into the development process: Incorporate security testing into the continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline so that potential vulnerabilities are identified and addressed early.
  • Use multiple tools: Use a variety of security testing tools to get a comprehensive view of the application’s security posture.
  • involve stakeholders: Make sure that all relevant stakeholders, including security, development, and operations teams, are involved in the continuous security testing process.

Continuous testing is an important part of DevSecOps. By continuously testing for vulnerabilities, businesses can find and fix security issues before they cause problems. DevSecOps helps to automate the security testing process, making it easier and faster to identify and fix vulnerabilities.

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Conclusion

Testing is an important part of developing and deploying secure applications. Continuous security testing helps to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they cause problems. There are many reasons why companies might choose to outsource this process. Security risks can come from a variety of sources, including malicious actors, errors in coding, and even simple human mistakes. By outsourcing web application security testing to a team of experts, businesses can be sure that their data is safe from all potential threats.

Practical Logix provides comprehensive and dependable software testing services. We have a devoted team of committed specialists providing complete customer satisfaction. Our process for independent software testing services provides worldwide delivery standards, on-time completion, and the lowest possible cost investment. Our professionals provide cutting-edge services with a focus on the product’s aim, company goals, and end-user needs by lowering operational costs, maximizing software performance, and shortening release timeframes, resulting in high-end satisfaction and a fantastic ROI. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

Rupali is a QA Automation Engineer at Practical Logix. She works closely with the development and cloud engineering team to consistently perform both manual and automation testing. She takes pride in exploring vulnerabilities in applications and helping teams fix them with utmost urgency. Rupali enjoys offering helpful suggestions for improvements. Her work has dramatically improved the quality and security of our deliverables.

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