Complete Guide on Web Application Security

What is Web Application Security Testing?

Applications are the most favorable medium for cybercriminals who seek to steal data or breach user’s security defenses. Being available 24/7 to users, web applications hold high chances of becoming a target for hackers trying to seek access to the confidential back-end data.

According to the cybersecurity research, there were more than 3,800 publicly disclosed data breaches, exposing 4.1 billion compromised records. A huge amount of data is stored in web applications. With the increasing number of transactions taking place on websites lately, the need for comprehensive web application security testing must be considered a mandatory step.

But what actually the term ‘Web Application Security Testing’ means? Basically, it is the process of checking the security of confidential data from being exposed to unauthorized individuals or entities. The purpose of this security testing is to ensure that the functionality of the website is not being misused or altered by any user. Apart from that, it also ensures that no user holds the authority to deny the functionality of the website to other users. 

In order to have the best web application security practices, it is important to have knowledge of the following main key terms: 

Web application security vulnerabilities ahead!
Web application security vulnerabilities ahead!
  • Vulnerability 

A flaw, weakness or misconfiguration in a web-based application code that empowers attackers to gain a certain level of control of the website or possibly over the hosting server.

  • Website Spoofing

Act of creating a hoax website to mislead users or target audience of the authenticated website for fraudulent intent. 

  • URL Manipulation

The act of altering or manipulating information in the URL to get access to the confidential information and this information is passed on through the query string. 

  • SQL injection

A computer attack in which malicious code is inserted in a weakly-designed web application and is then passed on to the backend database. As a result, malicious data produces a confidential database query result. 

  • XSS (Cross-Site-Scripting)

A security breach where the malicious scripts are injected into the otherwise trusted websites. This attack occurs when a cyber-attacker uses a web application to send malicious code to different end-user in the form of a browser-side script.   

Types of Web Application Security Testing

When it comes to web application security, there are more than one standard ways to perform:

1. Vulnerability Assessment

Done through automated software, this type of testing is performed to scan web applications against known vulnerability signatures. It is the process of identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities in the web application whereas it provides the knowledge, awareness and risk background check which is necessary to understand.

2. Dynamic Application Security Test 

This automated application security test includes dynamic scanning of a live running web application for analyzing the common vulnerabilities which are susceptible to attack. This process of dynamic vulnerability scanning requires a proper set up of the OWASP ZAP testing standard.

3. Static Application Security Test 

SAST solutions analyze the web application from “inside out” in a static form. Under this security application approach, both manual and automated testing techniques are involved. It is helpful in identifying bugs without requiring to execute applications in a production environment. Also, Static Application Security Testing, developers can scan the source code to systematically identify and eliminate existing application security vulnerabilities. 

4. Penetration Test 

Penetration testing or ethical hacking is the practice of testing web application security in order to identify the security vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by attackers. It can be performed either automatically or manually. This security testing is best for critical web applications and especially for those that are undergoing major alterations.

5. Runtime Application Self Protection

Under this approach, various techniques are applied to instrument a web application to detect and block attacks in real-time. When an application runs live, RASP ensures to protect it from malicious input or behavior by inspecting the app’s performance behavior.    

Does Web App Security Testing Help in Reducing the Organization’s Risk?

Every organization has got either one or multiple website applications, which eventually become the scope of potential data and security exploitation on an extremely broad level. Moreover, with developers working day and night on introducing the latest technology and frameworks with the code deployed, they often fail to think of security as a priority. 

Any organization’s web application in today’s date can be easily affected by a wide array of security issues. Cyber attacks like SQL injection, Remote Command Execution, Path Traversal and XSS can lead to harmful results like access to restricted content, installation of malicious code, compromised user accounts, loss of customer trust, damaged brand reputation and much more.  

Because prevention is better than cure.
Because prevention is better than cure

Knowing that such attacks not only make web applications vulnerable but also lead to potential damage to the security, best web application security practices offer to preemptively address the security vulnerabilities and take action against them accordingly. 

On the other hand, users now are becoming more aware of securing their data and therefore will trust secured web applications with their personal records and financial details, so it is up to the organization to provide them with robust security.

Therefore, continuous security testing is highly crucial for regularly running web applications in order to mitigate potential vulnerabilities by fixing and improving security. As more secure the web application is, better will be the brand reputation of an organization.

Always remember that web application is 100% secure and it takes only one small vulnerability for a hacker to exploit everything that comes in its reach. With web application security testing tools, one can minimize cyber risks and can have the full trust of customers.  

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