Pen Testing

A complete guide to web application testing (2021)

What is Web Application Penetration Testing?

If you know me, you will know I am a big advocate of Web Application Penetration Testing. Let’s take a look at what it’s all about.

Web Application Penetration Testing: the basics

Penetration Testing is a proactive security measure that allows organisations to analyse their current security, internally and externally, detect any present vulnerabilities and implement strategies to greater protect the business from a breach due to the vulnerabilities identified.

A web application penetration test allows the end user to identify any weakness within a web application and any of its components. This assists developers in highlighting the detected vulnerabilities and threats, enabling them to produce strategies to mitigate them.

Web application testing is a type of penetration testing which uses the latest techniques on your applications to identify any existing security risks that could put your data, your customers’ data, and your reputation at risk. It helps to detect the risk and allows you to protect your business before that risk develops into a something more serious such as a data breach.

When developing a web application, the main focuses usually are UX (user experience), the customer journey and the overall design to give customers the best experience and allow companies to generate increased revenue from an additional customer facing platform. However, the security of these applications is often overlooked and needs addressing. This is where web application testing comes in to play. It helps secure the application and identifies any security issues often overlooked by developers, ensuring a customer facing and data collecting application is protected and secure as they can be.

Common objectives for a Web Application Penetration Test

The most common objectives for a web app pen test are:

  • Identify vulnerabilities
  • Identify weaknesses that could lead to a data breach
  • Check the efficiency of current cyber security

OWASP

The principal methodology used for web app testing is OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) Top 10. This is a regularly updated awareness document for web application security. It outlines the most detrimental security risks to web applications and strives to assist organisations take the first step in developing more secure code.

At the time of writing the OWASP top 10 are

  1. Injection
  2. Broken Authentication
  3. Sensitive Data Exposure
  4. XML External Entities (XXE)
  5. Broken Access Control
  6. Security Misconfiguration
  7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  8. Insecure De-serialisation
  9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
  10. Insufficient Logging & Monitoring

The best way to avoid falling victim to a data breach due to one of the OWASP vulnerabilities is to train your development team to consider these during the development process, so they aren’t accidentally overlooked. The OWASP Top 10 assists organisations and provides guidelines to make their applications more secure against cyber-attacks, reduce the risk of operational failures in systems, improves the image and reputation of your organisation and contributes to stronger encryption.

Conducting regular penetration tests helps provide reassurance to your customers, showing you actively assess your applications, systems, and infrastructure to protect their data. This raises the organisations profile as a trusted body and can lead to greater ability to tender for contracts, increase revenue and reputation.

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Article adapted from an article by DigitalXRAID
What is web application penetration testing?

A web application penetration test aims to identify security vulnerabilities resulting from insecure development practices in the design, coding and publishing of software or a website.

What are the common objectives for a Web Application Penetration Test?

  • Identify vulnerabilities

  • Identify weaknesses that could lead to a data breach

  • Check the efficiency of current cyber security
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