A Complete Guide: Web Application Security Testing 

Table of Contents

Cybercrimes are a severe threat to society, and in the last decade, there has been an enormous rise in cyber theft. The internet offers limitless opportunities for criminals who can use it as their tool – one hope being web applications! These programs have given us access to financial systems and e-commerce or banking sites that we would never be able to otherwise. But this openness comes at significant risk with cybersecurity breaches leading many experts to warn us how quickly technology moves forward without enough protection against these threats. 

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The applications were coded and secured with extreme haste, but they couldn’t withstand the cybercrime wave that hit their business. To ensure your business doesn’t get caught up in this mess from happening again, you should invest time into making sure all future apps are appropriately protected by employing a Web Application Testing procedure. It is the key to success for businesses today. 

Web applications have become the backbone of a business or organization. They store large amounts of data and process an increasing number of transactions every day, which makes it imperative for them to be secure from vulnerabilities in order not only to protect users but also to maintain trust with third parties who rely on their website’s integrity. 

The following article can help you understand Website Security Testing better. It will also provide a detailed explanation of the meaning, tools, and critical terms used, along with an overview of how they’re applied during testing procedures. 

What is Web Application Security Testing and its types?

The process of Web Application Security Testing or simply Website Security Testing is a rigorous one that assesses your web application for potential vulnerabilities, loopholes, and security flaws. It’s essential to find all hidden risk points before hackers can exploit them to prevent data breaches, malware, and other cyberattacks from happening.

Different Types of Web application Security Testing

1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST): 

Automated and manual testing techniques are combined in this approach to application security. The method’s benefits include identifying bugs without having a production environment available and enabling developers to scan source code for software vulnerabilities that may be present within their applications – even if they aren’t aware of them yet.

2. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST):

This app security test will help you keep your low-risk, internally-facing applications safe. For medium risk or critical systems undergoing minor changes, we recommend combining this automated tool with manual web testing for common vulnerabilities to remain compliant with regulatory assessments of today’s cyberattacks on businesses from various sectors around the globe. 

3. Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP): 

The application security approach is evolving, and it’s a good idea to stay on top of the techniques. Instrumenting your program with these tools can bring forward any potential attacks as they happen in real-time for you or others who have access to them so that an appropriate response may be taken before anything happens.

4. Penetration Test: 

This manual application security test is best for those undergoing significant changes. It involves adversary-based testing and business logic to discover advanced attack scenarios, making it perfect for finding critical vulnerabilities before they can occur with your company’s sensitive information on the line. 

Why is Web Application Security Testing essential?

Web security testing is a necessary component for every web application. Security vulnerabilities can be found in applications, and their configurations, which will then need to be fixed before hackers can exploit them successfully. Negative tests punish the system by provoking errors so that they behave unexpectedly; this examination aims to find anything out-of-order or not appropriately designed regarding what it’s supposed to do. 

Security testing for Web applications is more than just checking the features of security that can be implemented on an application. It’s equally important to make sure other aspects, such as business logic and input validation, are secure, so users don’t have their information compromised when using it in a browser or another client locale without SSL enabled.

Security Testing should include addressing all possible vulnerabilities, including ones where potential hackers try accessing sensitive data through weak points like authentication flaws, insecure coding practices directly related to some functionality exposed by these websites (e.g., SQL injection attacks), or even abnormal behavior from scripts running inside your webpage due to errors while processing user requests. 

Some Common Terms Used in Web Application Security Testing

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It’s time to learn a few standard terms you may come across when performing web application security testing. These include:

1. Vulnerability: 

A vulnerability is a security risk in an app that hackers can potentially exploit for access – so programmers must fix these problems as soon as possible. 

2. SQL Injection:

SQL injection is the most critical vulnerability. Hackers can inject malicious SQL queries into your website through form inputs, GET and POST requests, as well as cookies to give them access not only to databases but also files on disk or even server-side scripting programming languages such that they may run arbitrary code at will within one context. SQLi is a type of vulnerability that can be caused by a lack of input sanitization and escaping. SQL Injection is a significant flaw in web applications that can compromise the entire infrastructure.

3. XSS:

Cross-Site Scripting is shortened as XSS. The XSS exploit is a type of attack that, when successful, allows an attacker to insert malicious JavaScript code into one website/app and extend their compromise across another.

4. URL Manipulation:

Attackers often use URL manipulation to access data and credentials. Suppose they do this by changing some information in the request URL. In that case, it is known as “manipulation” of a browser’s communication process that can be done quickly without raising suspicion from users or IT security professionals alike due to its low-profile nature.

5. CSRF:

Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) is a web application vulnerability that allows an attacker to take actions on behalf of the user without them knowing by jumping to the same-origin policy. 

6. Spoofing:

Spam and phishing are a hacker’s most favorite ways to get into your network. The fake emails or messages so you will click on an attachment could compromise everything in an enterprise with ransomware, data leakages, Cryptojacking scripts, and privilege escalation exploitations. This can be prevented by setting up DMARC/SPF records. 

Web Application Security Testing Approach

A security expert must have a good understanding of the HTTP protocol. It is essential to know how clients and servers communicate using this networking standard, which enables them to assess better whether an application’s data can be compromised by hackers who might try their luck sending maliciously crafted requests over public WiFi networks, for example.

A web application tester must be able to test for SQL injection and XSS vulnerabilities. This is necessary because these types of bugs can allow hackers to access unauthorized information from within a website, resulting in identity theft and other serious consequences if not found quickly enough by developers/business owners who don’t know how they work themselves. 

Methods to do Web Application Security Testing

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1. Password Cracking

Web applications come with the potential to be vulnerable. A Security testing technique can involve password cracking. Hackers attempt to log in by guessing username/passwords or using some open-source tool like a cracker program that lists popular usernames and their corresponding passwords from online sources and other security measures used on the web applications servers themselves. 

The longer passwords are hard for hackers to crack. A complex combination of letters and numbers makes passwords more secure because they’re not easily guessable or retrievable through key-logging software in most cases.

One of the most standard ways to store passwords is cookies, but this does not provide security. Cookies can be deciphered by an attacker who will then have access to your username and password as well – it’s just a matter of time until they do. 

2. SQL Injection

Entering a single quote in any textbox should be rejected by the application, and an error message should be displayed instead. Suppose the tester encounters a database error in their input. In that case, it means that they were attempting to inject SQL code into some query which was executed on behalf of another program like an app or script running locally within web pages for example; this would allow hackers access to private information such as passwords stored unencrypted between pages, so make sure you protect those credentials accordingly. 

When it comes to checking for SQL injection, the best place to start is with your codebase. Find where direct MySQL queries are executed and see if they accept some user input, then try changing those inputs before submitting them again. 

The input data is crafted in a way that allows for the execution of SQL queries. This means an attacker could inject their statements or parts of these to extract vital information from databases. 

Even if the attacker manages to crash your application, you can still get some information from their browser by looking at SQL query errors. Make sure all special characters are appropriately escaped and handled accordingly so as not to give up any data in this situation. 

3. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

A tester must check the web application for XSS (Cross-site Scripting). Any <HTML> or any script, for example – <SCRIPT> that is not challenged by this test can be an easy target to Cross-Site Scripting attacks.

An attacker can use the same method to execute a URL or malicious script on the victim’s browser. This is done with cross-site scripting, where scripts get stored like JavaScript and access cookie information and any other data that users may save and access through websites they visit. 

During security testing, the tester should be mindful of not making any modifications to:

  • Services running on the server
  • Configuration of the server or the application
  • Already existing user data hosted by the application

Additionally, a test in the production system is avoided because it could cause unnecessary damage and confusion for both users and IT staff members trying to fix an issue on-site.

4. URL Manipulation through GET HTTP Methods

If you’re testing an application that uses the HTTP GET method to pass data between your client and server, it’s essential to save and for testers to make sure everything passes in the query string.

The tester can use query string parameters to alter their request. This could be useful for testing if a server database will accept specific changes or not.

The HTTP GET web browsers and mobile applications use requests to send information from your browser or application, such as cookies. The attacker could manipulate every input variable passed into this form of a request to get the required data for an exploit while also corrupting what was sent back if they wished so severely enough.

Recommended Tools to Aid the Web Application Security Testing

Running a web security test is no longer just the domain of hackers and IT professionals. Web application security testing tools are becoming readily available to help you automate many aspects, from discovery all the way up through testing processes with results that can then be analyzed for potential vulnerabilities in your site or application architecture. Here are some of the application security tools you can use during app security testing:

1. NetSparker

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NetSparker is a web security service that protects any type of environment. It can be hosted or self-hosted and integrates seamlessly with test environments for ease in product creation development without worrying about vulnerabilities on your website.

NetSparker eliminates the need for extensive labor by using automation to identify vulnerabilities and verify false positives through its Proof-Based-Scanning technology. This efficiency is what makes them different from other cybersecurity companies out there. 

2. Acunetix

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Acunetix is a security company that specializes in web application penetration testing. The AcuSensor and DeepScan scanning techniques are innovative black-box methods for automated software vulnerability detection. At the same time, the SPA crawling function of this tool makes it possible to identify threats on websites without having you reload them numerous times – saving time. 

The multi-threaded DeepScan crawler is capable of running an uninterrupted scan of WordPress installation for over 1,000 vulnerabilities. The Login Sequence Recorder enables it to log in and search through password-protected fields as well. At the same time, the vulnerability management system helps generate various technical reports that are required by compliance standards or business regulations. 

3. Vega 

Vega is a vulnerability scanning and testing tool that works on Java platforms. This open-source and free tool is designed to be easy-to-use, with an interface that can work in all three operating systems: OS X/Linux or Windows. This program’s automatic application security scanner makes your job much easier since it will do most of the work for you while still providing as many protection options as possible when necessary – no need for manual interaction ever again.

The powerful interception proxy feature allows tactical inspection by observing client-server communication (including URLs) so players can’t hide anything from their connection-based attacks using encryption techniques like SSL stripping where windows don’t have verifiable certificates anymore. 

Web application vulnerabilities are a huge problem. Vega can detect them like blind SQL injection, shell injection entry, and reflected cross-site scripting to help you keep your users safe. This means that the system’s detection modules can be written in JavaScript, and they provide APIs for developers to create new attack modules easily.

4. Wapiti

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Wapiti is an application that can access and crawl through websites and find scripts where data may get injected. Once it finds these vulnerable spots, Wapitcan injects payloads into the code for users or hackers to gain access without knowing how they got there. 

This tool can identify vulnerabilities and will generate reports in various formats. It can detect flaws like file disclosure, injection vulnerabilities, and ones that involve remote code execution, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), which could lead you to insecure your server or access other people’s information on it without their knowledge.

Concluding Note

A security test is an essential part of the development process, as it helps to discover any vulnerabilities in your web application. The purpose behind these tests is to remove those bugs from their code and protect both data on-site or off-site by the development teams. 

Many things can go wrong with your web application, and security is just one of them. With 287 days, on average, it will take a cyber-attack or data breach before you realize there has been an issue in the first place – this means losing sensitive information could have crippled our business entirely!

Security testing should be done from time to time for any online enterprise because we cannot predict when hackers might strike without these precautions taken into account beforehand. By failing to secure its applications against outside threats such as virus attacks (which happen every day), financial losses may become irreversible if not correctly addressed quickly enough once discovered. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the security testing for web applications?

Web application security testing is a process of analyzing and reporting on a Web site’s protection from malicious attacks. This information can help developers make necessary updates and administrators who need an accurate assessment before installing patches or other system improvements to protect their network against future vulnerabilities. 

  1. What is web application security auditing?

Web application auditing is the process of reviewing an app’s codebase for vulnerabilities. This can be accomplished by examining whether it does things that it shouldn’t, determining if possible backdoors have been implemented within its system, and checking data communications security (encryption).

  1. What is SQL injection in security testing?

SQL injection is the most critical vulnerability. Hackers can inject malicious SQL queries into your website through form inputs, GET and POST requests, as well as cookies to give them access not only to databases but also files on disk or even a server-side scripting language such that they may run arbitrary code at will within one context. SQLi is a type of vulnerability that can be caused by a lack of input sanitization and escaping. SQL Injection is a significant access flaw in web applications that can compromise the entire infrastructure.


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