Web Application Security Testing: The Best Practises And Tools
Web Application Security Testing – Many organisations find that web application security testing is a difficult task. It is important to follow the best practises and use the right tools, but how do you know what those are? In this post, we’ll go over what web application security testing is, as well as recommended practises to make your job easier and some of the most popular tools.
What is Web Application Security Testing?
The field of web application security testing encompasses a wide range of methods and tools for detecting and repairing flaws in web applications.
These tests can include everything from black-box testing (where you do not know how things are built or put together) to white-box testing (you know every piece, but not why they were chosen or what their initial state is).
Why is Web Application Security Testing important?
Because most businesses rely on their web applications to conduct business, proper application security testing is essential. If these applications are not secure, they can be a massive liability for the company and its customers. Any vulnerability lying within these web applications can be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive data or take control of the system.
Best Practices for Web Application Security Testing
Best practices for web application security testing include understanding the business requirements, knowing where to look for vulnerabilities, and using the right tools for the job. These can vary based upon the type of test you conduct and the information you have about your systems. However, there are a few general best practises:
- Use of tools: Use tools to automate as much testing as possible. You want to make sure that all vulnerabilities are found as quickly as possible before an attacker finds them.
- Test for OWASP’s top ten vulnerabilities: The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) provides a list of the most common web application security issues that can be tested against your system to find potential problems.
- Understand all components: Understanding all components on which your web applications are built is important because you can then test for vulnerabilities in those components, as well.
- Use a variety of techniques: When testing, don’t rely on only one type of testing. Black-box testing is great for identifying surface-level issues while white-box testing is good for diving deep into the system.
- Updates: Keep all system software updated and have the latest patches and security fixes installed immediately. A good practice would be to have automatic updates turned on for critical updates.
- Reporting: Report all discovered issues (no matter how minor they may seem at first glance).
What are some Web Application Security Testing tools?
There are several distinct web application security testing solutions to choose from. For simplicity, we are going to classify them into three main categories- open-source, commercial, and cloud-based. Using more than one tool helps improve your testing results and increases the likelihood of finding vulnerabilities.
Open Source Tools
Open source tools are freely available and can be used as a solution on their own or in conjunction with commercial web application security testing tools.
- OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) – This is an OWASP project that aims to help secure web applications by finding vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, XSS, CSRF, etc.
- WebScarab – Another OWASP project that is a web application security scanner and proxy server.
- Wfuzz – A unique tool for brute forcing web applications for directories, files, and other resources. It can also spot popular content management system (CMS) version numbers (e.g., WordPress, Joomla, etc.).
- Acunetix – A web application security scanner that crawls your website and looks for vulnerabilities such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting, etc.
- Fuzzer – A tool used to find bugs in software by fuzzing the inputs given to it. It can be useful when looking for file format validation issues or similar vulnerabilities where there is no known exploit available.
- Burp Suite – A popular tool used for web application security testing that includes a proxy server, spider, and scanner.
- RatProxy – A semi-automated, open-source web application security testing tool that can help identify common vulnerabilities.
Some web application security testing tools may be available as commercial products. Although they cost more, they often include a lot more features.
- Codenomicon Defensics Pro – a cloud-based web application security testing tool that offers dynamic and static code analysis. They also have an annual subscription for unlimited scanning of your websites, the ability to test third-party sites, as well as a free scanner.
- HP WebInspect – A cloud-based automated testing platform that can be used to find vulnerabilities such as OWASP Top Ten risks (i.e XSS, SQL Injections, etc.). This platform can be used as a self-service model where the user is responsible for providing and maintaining their own scanners or accessed through HP’s cloud.
- Astra Pentest – A commercial web application security testing tool that can be used for both automated and manual penetration testing. Astra’s pentest solution offers Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing in an extremely user-friendly way.
- WhiteHat Security’s Sentinel Program – Continuous web application security testing service for vulnerability management purposes and includes report prioritisation and real-time collaboration with clients through a secure browser session as well as the ability to proactively identify vulnerabilities and automatically create a new report.
- io – Offers a cloud-based vulnerability scanning solution that helps identify vulnerabilities in your applications and infrastructure.
- IBM AppScan – a full web vulnerability assessment tool for enterprise applications that offers access to unlimited on-demand scanners, test content, and security consultants as well as automated crawling of your application’s source code.
- Acunetix – a web application security scanner that crawls your website and looks for vulnerabilities such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting, etc.
- Burp Suite Pro – This is the commercial version of Burp Suite which includes additional features such as the ability to scan for vulnerabilities in PDFs and Java applications.
Cloud-based web application security testing tools are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to scale according to need.
- HP WebInspect
- Astra Pentest
- WhiteHat Security’s Sentinel Program
- IBM AppScan
There are many more tools available. It is important to research the right tool for your organisation’s needs.
How to Pick the Right Tool?
When selecting a web application security testing tool, you should consider factors such as:
- The type of web applications being tested.
- The size of your organisation.
- Whether the tool is cloud or on-premise-based.
- The cost of the tool.
- The support and maintenance costs.
- Availability of a training program for your organisation to learn how to use it effectively.
- Whether the tool is easy to deploy on different environments such as cloud, mobile, etc.
- How many users need access to scan web applications at any one time?
Knowing which tools are available and what questions to ask when selecting a web application security testing tool will help you in making an informed decision that meets the specific needs of your organisation. An IT security audit can assist firms by giving information about the dangers connected with their IT networks. It may also aid in the discovery of security flaws and possible vulnerabilities in their system. As a result, they are patched on time and hackers are kept at bay.
Web application security testing is a critical aspect of data protection for your company. By using the right tools and following the best practices, you can make this process easier and more effective. There are many different tools available, so it is important to research and select the right one for your specific needs. In doing so, you can help ensure the safety of your organisation’s data.
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