Web Security Testing – Your Complete Guide

Web Security Testing Your Complete Guide

Web Security Testing
Web Security Testing | Image by skylarvision from Pixabay

While web applications provide convenience for businesses and customers, their ubiquity makes them a popular target for cybercriminals. Therefore, web security testing or analyzing and testing web applications for risk is essential.

What is web security testing?

Web security testing is a process of verifying whether or not sensitive data remains confidential. For example, a user should not be able to deny other users the functionality of the website or a user should not be able to inadvertently change the functionality of the web application, etc.

Some key terms used in security testing

Before you proceed, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the terms that are commonly used when testing web application security.

What is “Vulnerability”?

This is a weakness of the web application. Such “weakness” can be caused by an application error, an injection (SQL code/script), or the presence of a virus.

What is “SQL Injection”?

This is the process of inserting SQL statements into a query through the web application UI, which is then executed by the server.

What is “XSS (Cross-Site-Scripting)”?

When a user inserts an HTML / client-side script into the user interface of a web application, that insertion is visible to other users and is known as an XSS.

What is “spoofing”?

Identity theft is the creation of fake websites and emails

Types of web security testing

  • Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST):

One approach to DAST is to look for vulnerabilities in a web application that an attacker could exploit. This test method is used to find out which vulnerabilities an attacker could target and how he can penetrate the system from outside. Dynamic application security testing tools do not require access to the original application source code, so testing with DAST can be performed quickly and frequently.

  • Static Application Security Testing (SAST):

SAST takes a deeper approach. In contrast to DAST, it checks for weaknesses in the source code of the web application. Since access to the application’s source code is required, SAST can provide a real-time snapshot of web application security.

  • Application penetration testing:

Application penetration testing involves the human element. A security professional tries to mimic an attacker breaking into a web application by using both personal security know-how and various penetration testing tools to find exploitable vulnerabilities.

Methods for testing web security

Crack password

Security tests on a web application can be initiated by “password cracking”. To log into the private areas of the app, you can either guess a username/password or use a password cracker tool. A list of common usernames and passwords is available as well as open-source password crackers.

If the web application does not enforce a complex password (for example with alphabets, numbers, and special characters or with at least a required number of characters), the decryption of the name may not take very long.

If a username or password is stored unencrypted in cookies, an attacker can use various methods to steal cookies and information such as username and password stored in cookies.

URL manipulation via HTTP GET methods

A tester should check whether the application is passing important information in the query string. This happens when the application uses the HTTP GET method to transfer information between the client and the server.

The information is transferred via the parameters of the query string. The tester can change a parameter value in the query string to see if the server accepts it.

The information of the user is transmitted to the server for authentication or data retrieval via the HTTP GET request. The attacker can manipulate any input variable that is passed to a server by this GET request to obtain the required information or to falsify the data. Under such conditions, any unusual behavior on the part of an application or web server is the gateway for the attacker to break into an application.

SQL injection

The next factor to check is SQL injection. Entering a single quotation mark (‘) in any text field should be rejected by the application. SQL injection attacks are very critical as an attacker can obtain important information from the server database. To check SQL injection entry points in your web application, find the code in your codebase that runs direct MySQL queries against the database that will accept certain user input.

If user input data in SQL queries is designed to query the database, an attacker could inject SQL statements or parts of SQL statements as user input to extract important information from a database.

Even if an attacker succeeds in bringing the application to crash, the attacker can obtain the information they are looking for from the SQL query error displayed in a browser. Special characters in user input should be handled correctly / escaped in such cases.

Web security testing tips

  1. If a system is mission-critical, it should be tested frequently

Any system that stores customer information, including credit card numbers, personally identifiable information (PII), or other sensitive information, should be tested for security vulnerabilities; In fact, it is often a requirement of many compliance guidelines that are imposed by governments or industry. Keep this in mind when considering the scope of web application security testing your organization can use.

  1. The earlier security is tested the better

You don’t want to leave security testing the last step in software development – vulnerabilities will inevitably be found and this can mean a big blow to the development and maintenance processes. Build security into the process early in the development cycle, preferably with the full involvement of your Development Operations (DevOps) team to streamline response, minimize risk, and minimize the cost or time required to correct.

  1. Keep development teams on track by prioritizing fixes and bug fixes

The result of security tests for web applications is often a list of points that development must address at a given point in time. The key is not to just slip a list of these issues into the lap of a DevOps team; instead, be sure to prioritize vulnerabilities and fully integrate them with your existing bug tracking system to maximize the time it takes to fix them.

Web application security is more important than ever. By implementing a web application security scanner and following some basic testing and troubleshooting best practices, organizations can greatly reduce their risk and protect their systems from attackers.

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