Ensure your Software's Safety with Security Testing

Security testing is the process of assessing and testing software’s security by discovering and mitigating various vulnerabilities and security concerns. Security testing’s main purpose is to ensure that software or applications are resistant to cyber-attacks and may be used safely.

Importance of Security Testing in Web Applications:

Web apps are used by businesses all over the world for several purposes. With a rising number of cyber-attacks targeting these applications and data privacy laws requiring compliance, it is critical for organizations to design secure web apps.

Secure web apps are created by implementing security into every phase of the SDLC (Software Development Life-cycle). The key benefit of this strategy is proactive mitigation of all potential vulnerabilities. Security testing has a lot of advantages for businesses. It increases revenue while lowering operating costs and risks, resulting in a positive return on investment.

Aim of Security Testing:

The purpose of application security testing is to verify the application’s ability to defend against security threats. To find security flaws in applications, security testing is carried out using various methodologies and tools. Six security principles are addressed by these tools:

1. Confidentiality: Security testing is used to detect if any application vulnerability results in unauthorized disclosure of information.

2. Integrity: Security testing is used to detect if any application vulnerability leads to the modification/corruption of data used/stored by the application.

3. Availability: Security testing is used to detect if vulnerability in an application causes it to crash, rendering it unavailable to legitimate users.

4. Authentication: Security testing is used to detect if any application vulnerability results in the application’s authentication mechanisms being bypassed.

5. Authorization: Security testing is used to detect if any application vulnerability results in unauthorized user activity.

6. Non-Repudiation: Security testing is used to detect if the application doesn’t properly track or keep a record of the user’s activity.

Security Testing Methodologies:

There are three approaches to application security testing. You can use one or a mix of these approaches to test your application, but employing all of them to test your application can increase its robustness against cyber-attacks.

White-Box Testing:

In white-box testing, the security tester has extensive knowledge of the application’s inner workings and has elevated access. The main goal of this testing is to look for vulnerabilities in the application’s source code and internal structure.

Hard-coded credentials, backdoor access, logical vulnerabilities, sensitive information exposure, inappropriate security settings, lack of code optimization, and other application weaknesses can all be discovered via white-box security testing. This testing methodology includes detailed source code reviews as well as the formulation and execution of use/misuse tests. The two main types of white box testing are:

1. Unit Testing: Unit testing is used to test the internal structure and logic of a specific module of the application.

2. Integration Testing: Integration testing is used to test how different modules work together to provide a specific function.

Black-Box Testing:

In black-box testing, the security tester is completely unaware of the internal working or structure of the application. The tester analyzes the web app from the attacker’s point of view. In this type of security testing, the tester employs different techniques and tools to study the application’s behavior.

Black-box testing is focused on testing/fuzzing the application’s inputs and checking the output. This testing methodology is used for the validation of the security requirements of the web application. The three main types of black-box testing are:

1. Functional Testing: Black-box functional testing is focused on testing the specific functionality of the application. This type of testing is mainly focused on evaluating the application based on its functional requirements.

2. Non-functional Testing: Black-box non-functional testing is used to test the aspects of the application that are not related to its functionality such as performance, reliability, ease of use, etc. This type of testing mainly focuses on the user’s view of the application.

3. Regression Testing: Black-box regression testing is used to detect if any change or update to the application causes any changes in the application’s expected functionality or requirements. Regression testing ensures that the application’s performance and capability are unaffected despite the underlying modifications in the application.

Grey-Box Testing:

Grey-box testing is a combination of white-box and black-box testing. In grey-box testing, the security tester has only a limited understanding of the application’s internal structure. The tester has only low-level access to the application. In this testing, the tester attempts to examine all the source code and functional vulnerabilities of the application. Grey-box testing can be utilized to fix issues in the web app by tying the security flaw with the issue in the internal working of the application. The main types of grey-box security testing are:

1. Matrix testing: Matrix testing is used to locate unused or un-optimized variables within the application source code.

2. Regression Testing: Regression testing, as mentioned above, is used to detect if any changes to the application are causing degradation in its performance/functionality.

3. Pattern Testing: Pattern Testing is used to identify the patterns in the application (based on the history of past security weaknesses) that can lead to vulnerabilities.

Types of Security Tests and Assessments:

Different types of security testing are given below:

Vulnerability Testing:

Vulnerability scanning is the process of detecting and grading security flaws in systems, applications, and networks through an automated process. Vulnerability scanning aids in the remediation of various security problems by offering insight into the web application’s most vulnerable areas.

Penetration Testing:

Penetration testing is an authorized simulated attack on an application to identify and exploit vulnerabilities safely. The goal of penetration testing is to evaluate and test the application’s security mechanisms.

Penetration testing is typically carried out by third-party certified security experts who have little or no understanding of the system or web app’s internal workings. This aids in the discovery of any blind spots that were overlooked during the development process.

Ethical Hacking:

When compared to penetration testing, ethical hacking covers a broader range of tests and requires organization consent before testing. Ethical hacking is a technique for detecting security flaws in software using the purpose and capabilities of malevolent hackers and relaying this information to the appropriate security department.

Risk Assessment:

A risk assessment is used to identify, analyze and remediate the risks to the organization’s information assets. Risk is calculated by determining the magnitude and probability of the threats.

This process is used to evaluate the strength of the current countermeasures and to recommend additional controls to improve the overall security.

Security Misconfiguration Scanning:

Security misconfiguration scanning looks for security settings in the system, network, or web app that are incorrectly configured and render it vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

This type of scanning can be done manually or with the help of automated technologies, and it gives guidance on how to address security issues.

Security Audits:

A security audit is a systematic examination of the security controls in your information system/application and their compliance with recognized security standards.

These audits are mostly in the form of code reviews, penetration testing, vulnerability, and configuration scanning. These audits can be carried out in-house, but they are usually carried out by external security consultants to provide better insight.

Security Posture Assessment:

A security posture assessment evaluates the security of your system, network, or web application. It evaluates the effectiveness of existing security controls and is used to develop a strategy for improving security posture.

Types of Security Testing Tools:

Application security testing tools make the process of testing the code and functionality of an application faster and easier. These tools can be used in the early stages of the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) to discover and fix common security flaws. As a result, these tools lower the cost and time required to fix security problems. The following are some of the types of application security testing tools:

Static Application Security Testing (SAST):

Static application security testing tools look for vulnerabilities in the source code or compiled code without running it. These tools can correct code errors while minimizing the cost and time spent on remediation activities in subsequent stages of the SDLC (Software Development life-cycle).

Input validation, numerical mistakes, path traversals, and race conditions are among the most common issues detected by these tools.

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST):

Dynamic Application Security Testing tools detect vulnerabilities in the application in the running state. These tools are used to test the application’s behavior when it is exposed to various attack/threat situations.

These tools use fuzzing techniques to evaluate the application’s settings, input points, interfaces, and responses by providing a variety of inputs (related to use and misuse cases).

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST):

Interactive Application Security Testing tools combine the capabilities of static and dynamic analysis tools. These tools are used to dynamically detect and validate the vulnerabilities in applications’ code by exploiting them. These tools can be integrated into your application to analyze the security while it is being developed.

The major advantage of using IAST tools is the reduction of false positives by detecting security flaws earlier and addressing them quickly as compared to other application security testing tools. Hardcoded credentials in web apps, input validation, and a lack of transport security are some of the flaws that IAST tools can discover.

Software Composition Analysis Tools:

Software Composition Analysis tools are used to detect and remediate the vulnerabilities arising due to the use of open source libraries and components in the application’s source code. These tools are used to inventory the open source libraries in use, identify vulnerabilities, report on which versions are affected, and make mitigation recommendations.

These tools can be used in combination with SAST, DAST, and IAST tools to increase the efficiency and speed of security testing procedures. SCA tools can be integrated into every phase of SDLC to keep track of the issues generated by the use of open source software. SCA tools also provide licensing information regarding software libraries and whether that license is compatible with your organization’s policies.

Database Security Scanners:

Database Security scanners are used to find vulnerabilities in the underlying database software that is being used in the application. Weak credentials, database security misconfigurations, and access control vulnerabilities are some of the issues detected by using these scanners.

These tools work by examining the data stored by the database management software while it is running. Some scanners also monitor the data in transit.

Test Coverage Analyzers:

Test Coverage Analyzers measure lines, statements, and blocks of code to track the scope of tests performed on the program code. These tools provide the results as a percentage of code that has been tested and notify you if any areas of the application are not covered by testing processes.

These tools can be used at any stage of the SDLC to improve the quality of the code produced.

Application Security Orchestration and Correlation Tools:

The Application Security Orchestration and Correlation tool offer a uniform platform for managing the massive amount of data generated by various ASTs (Application Security Tools). These technologies work by combining the results of multiple testing tools and removing any redundant findings.

By prioritizing significant application problems and enhancing the remediation process, the technologies improve the productivity of application development and testing.

API Security Testing Tools:

API security testing tools are used to find flaws in an application’s API endpoints in terms of data and response validity. These tools are used to fix API security issues and guarantee that the application’s security requirements are met.

These tools work by sending malformed or specially crafted inputs to API endpoints to identify vulnerabilities. These tools can work in conjunction with DAST tools to perform comprehensive security testing of the application.

Protocol Fuzzer:

A protocol fuzzer is also used to deliver forged packets to an application or to send and replay packets as a proxy.

The goal of this tool is to figure out what causes an application to crash, leak critical information, and find other bugs in application’s implementation of the protocol.

Open Source Application Security Testing Tools:

Some of the best open source tools available for application security testing are as follows:

Zed Attack Proxy:

Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) is an open source web application penetration testing tool that is developed by OWASP (Open Web Application security project). This tool is widely used by security professionals to detect vulnerabilities present in web applications. ZAP versions are available for Windows, Linux, Unix, and MAC OS platforms.

Burp Suite:

Port Swigger Web Security developed Burp Suite, a popular open source web application security testing tool. From detection to the exploitation of numerous security flaws, this tool supports various phases of penetration testing. This tool is offered in three versions: a free Community edition, a paid Professional edition, and a premium Enterprise edition.

Burp suite provides a detailed report of the vulnerabilities discovered, with their severity and level of confidence. These findings can further be presented in penetration testing reports to the clients.


Wapiti is an open-source web application security testing tool developed by Sourceforge. This tool works by forming a map of the target website by crawling all the URLs discovered. This map is then utilized to send malformed inputs into various parameters of the application to discover vulnerabilities. This tool is available as a command line utility.


w3af, attack and audit framework, is an open source web application security testing tool developed by Andres Riancho. w3af is used to discover and exploit numerous security weaknesses in web apps. This tool has both a graphical-user and command-line interface. This tool can also be used to run authenticated scans on websites to discover more useful information.


SQLMap is an open-source python based tool that is used to detect and exploit SQL Injection vulnerability in web applications. This tool’s powerful testing engine can support various database management applications and injection techniques.

Sqlmap is used to extract the contents and credentials of a database and allows the tester to execute arbitrary commands on it. It is available as a command line utility.


Nikto is an open-source security scanner for web applications. This tool can perform comprehensive tests for the underlying web server and readily identify security misconfiguration issues. Nikto is also available as a command-line utility.


SonarQube is an open-source tool used to perform static and dynamic code analysis. It is developed by SonarSource and provides support for various programming languages. With its continuous inspection capabilities, this tool aids developers in improving code quality. This utility is accessible in both a free community version and many commercial versions.

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