Security testing is one of the core competencies of any successful quality assurance specialist. QA best practices cover a lot of ground, but ensuring that an application contains minimal security vulnerabilities continues to be a primary concern for software testers. Like other aspects of QA, there are many varieties of security testing that teams need to be familiar with. Here are a few of the most important types of security testing:
The first step to high-quality security testing is for QA teams to shed the notion that this process solely entails identifying particular security tools that can be added to a particular piece of software. As a white paper released by IEEE Security & Privacy noted, there is no single solution to software security and relying on any given tool will only leave apps vulnerable to attack.
Instead, QA teams must thoroughly analyze in-development software with the mindset of a cybercriminal and probe for weak points. Then they need to determine how harmful a resulting breach would be to the functionality and performance of the application as well as the integrity of user data.
Vulnerability testing is one of the most fundamental forms of security testing that QA teams can deploy. This approach entails analyzing software and identifying weaknesses in its code or structure. An SD Elements report explained that a key aspect of vulnerability testing is that teams stop short of actually exploiting the vulnerabilities they find. The goal here is not to determine how an app will react when compromised, simply if such an attack is possible. Because of the nature of vulnerability testing, automation can be extremely helpful here. Although manual scans should be used for supplemental support, the lion's share of this work will be carried out by automated software testing tools.
Once team members have identified a vulnerability, they need to take the next step and determine just how harmful that weakness is. This requires testers to actually simulate a breach attempt by carrying out a cyberattack on their own software or even the environment around it, including the operating system or hardware. Testing Excellence noted that penetration testing forces QA teams to deploy many of the same malware strains utilized by cybercriminals, similar to what white hat hackers do within the cybersecurity community.
"Penetration testing is a way of ethical hacking, an experienced penetration tester will use the same methods and tools that a hacker would use, but the intention of penetration tester is to identify vulnerability and get them fixed before a real hacker or malicious program exploits it," Testing Excellence stated.
Overall, quality security testing puts QA teams in a somewhat uncomfortable position. They must dive into the mindset of cybercriminals and anyone else who might attempt to gain unauthorized access to their software products. Many of the most critical forms of security test require QA specialists to think like data thieves and probe their own projects for weaknesses. This is the only way to effectively identify security vulnerabilities and address them before pushing apps through to release.