Web application security testing is an extensive procedure that comprises a multitude of functional processes which enable vulnerability scanning of a Web application during its development. It is basically a systematic procedure that begins by defining and scoping the whole application, followed by implementation of multiple vulnerability tests. The final results of these tests determine whether or not the software is worthy to be deployed. Once the software is approved for production, complete integration and deployment can take place. In order to achieve this, the software must pass various kinds of tests to ensure its robustness. These tests range from basic interface and database management security checks, to application and user code integrity checks.

The whole security process relies on the principle of prevention, as the success of the web application security testing process depends on identifying, isolating and then removing the threats beforehand. This can be done in one of two ways – manually or effectively. Manual testing involves the detailed examination of the application’s code and configurations, and is often undertaken by dedicated security testers. This procedure is highly time-consuming and often results in incomplete or incorrect outcomes.

On the other hand, using an effective web application security testing methodology demands upfront analysis and patching of the vulnerable software. This enables quick identification and isolation of the vulnerable software components. A wide variety of web application security testing tools are available today, ranging from web-based tools to desktop-based applications and both. Most tools allow a complete and thorough examination of the vulnerable software and their code, irrespective of their complexity.

The major benefit of automated web application security testing tools is that they rapidly identify security issues before they cause severe harm to the system. Another major benefit is that such tools automatically correct security issues that have been identified, which prevents attackers from exploiting the vulnerability further. Since the number of malicious attacks on web applications continues to increase, automated tools are essential for keeping systems protected. They also help to enforce strict control over compromised applications.

Web Application Security Testing

Web vulnerability scanning tools identify and monitor the most common ways in which web applications are targeted by attackers. Common attack methods include SQL injection, cross-site scripting, use of error page, application flaw, command injection, directory traversal and other server side vulnerabilities. These tools conduct complete and thorough vulnerability assessment for each identified vulnerability and then categorize them into priority vulnerability groups (A, B, C). vulnerability priority groups allow the tester to easily determine which vulnerability needs more attention and protection. For example, if a web application is vulnerable to a remote attacker who has successfully exploited one of the A vulnerabilities first, then all subsequent vulnerabilities in that category will need to be exploited simultaneously. Similarly, if an application is targeted by an attacker who successfully exploits one of the C vulnerabilities, all subsequent C vulnerabilities in that category will also need to be exploited simultaneously.

Most enterprise level web applications are developed using a combination of client-side and server-side technologies. Therefore, it is crucial to employ both types of technologies in order to detect and prevent every possible attack method. It can be tedious, however, to manually perform the web application security testing process. Automated tools automate the process by taking the burden of performing manual verification and validation on the application code.

The major benefits of automated web application security testing are several. First, they speed up the process, which allows testers to spend more time conducting more effective testing. Another benefit is that by employing attackers’ favorite techniques, attackers are given more opportunities to succeed. Since web applications are commonly used by businesses globally, developers often provide alternate IP addresses or redirect the application during the attack. This helps attackers to bypass important firewalls and detection services.

Common Web Application vulnerabilities include SQL injection, cross-site scripting, user error, and application security issues. In SQL injection, an attacker can exploit a vulnerable server by creating an erroneous database. An attacker could also exploit web applications using a variety of programming error to gain access to the target’s database. Cross-site scripting can be executed when the target application receives content from another source. The most common form of this is injection of JavaScript into a website. Lastly, user error in web applications can be exploited by attackers who use the popular scripting language Java.

Tags: web application security testing, assets, manual penetration, simulation, ethical