From a web-based email to online shopping and banking, organizations are bringing their business directly to the customer’s web browsers, avoiding the need for complex installations. In addition, these organizations are rolling out internal web applications for marketing automation, internal communication, and even finance.
While web applications offer access to business and customers, their ubiquity makes them a preferred victim for cyber criminals. As a result, web application security testing, or testing and scanning web applications for risk, becomes essential.
The web application security testing can be diversified as:
- Approach toward Dynamic Testing
- Approach toward Static Testing
- And, for Penetration Testing
It clutches all those vulnerabilities in a web app that an attacker could try to target. Since the dynamic security testing tools don’t really require access to the application’s original source code, the testing can be done quite quickly.
This is an inside-out approach which looks for vulnerabilities in the source code of web applications. Since it requires access to the application’s source code; this testing can offer a real time snapshot of the web application.
Penetration Testing practiced to find out the vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.
The Need and Importance of Penetration Testing
The need and importance of Penetration Testing include:
- It helps in identifying unfamiliar vulnerabilities.
- It checks the effectiveness of the overall security policies.
- It tests the components exposed publicly like routers, firewalls, and DNS.
- It allows the users to find out the most vulnerable route through which an attack can be made.
- It identifies the loopholes which can be used in mugging sensitive data.
Penetration Testing, thus, becomes really important in building a secure system which can be used by the users without any worries of hacking or data loss. (Worth Reading: Top 5 software testing traps & how to overcome them?)
Pen Testing Tools
Let’s take a brief look at some of the testing tools of penetration testing:
Metasploit: This is based on the concept of ‘exploit’ which is a code that can surpass the security measures and enter a certain system. It has a GUI clickable interface and a command-line that works on Apple Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux.
Wirehsark: This is mainly a network protocol analyzer which is popular for providing the minutest details of your network protocols, packet information, decryption, etc. It can be used on Linux, Windows, OS X, Solaris, NetBSD, and many other systems.
CORE Impact: Core Impact Pro can be used to test mobile device penetration, password identification, and cracking, etc. It has a command-line and a GUI in a clickable interface but is one of the more expensive tools.
Netsparker: It comes with a robust web application scanner that will identify vulnerabilities and suggest remedial action as well. This tool can exploit SQL injection and LFI (local file induction).
The Test Scenario
Penetration testing a web application is done by fabricating unauthorized attacks, internally or externally, to get access to the sensitive data.
Here is the list of some of the test scenarios which can be used to pen test a web application.
Password Cracking: This is the most common way of gaining access to a web app. The security tester ensures that the app demands a strong password that must be encrypted.
SQL Injection: Sometimes, a hacker feeds illegal SQL statements to a text entry to get access to web app content. If the security is not tested, the hackers will make use of this vulnerability to add, change, or erase the data from an SQL-based database of the web app.
Cross Site Scripting: Different technologies are used in making an app. Users access different levels that they should go through to log in and also access how the data can be obtained or stored.
The Future of Web Application Security Testing
Web applications have become a standard for client-server communications over the Internet. As more and more applications are ‘web enabled,’ the number of web application security issues will increase the traditional local system vulnerabilities (for example, directory traversal overflows and race conditions are opened up to new vectors of attack). The accountability for the security of sensitive systems will rest progressively with the web developer, rather than the vendor or system administrator.
Web Application Security Testing is way more important than any other sort of software testing technique and should be counted as an important aspect of the software development lifecycle. By implementing web application best practices, both for testing and remediation, businesses can significantly reduce their risk and keep their systems safe from intruders.