A tour to Web Application Security Testing

Different Ways In Which Web Application Development Is Changing

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.

A 6-Step Guide to Web Application Testing [Agencies Approved]

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:

  • Vulnerability 

A Guide to Vulnerability Assessment For Organization Security

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 SpoofingSpoofed URL - Wikipedia

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

  • URL Manipulation

URL Manipulation Attacks - CCM

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

Introduction to SQL Injections. SQL injection is an attack technique… | by Charithra Kariyawasam | Medium

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)

What is Cross-site Scripting (XSS) and how can you fix it? | Detectify Blog

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

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 

Dynamic Application Security Testing: DAST Basics - WhiteSource

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 

Static Application Security Testing: SAST Basics - WhiteSource

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 

What is Penetration Testing? Pen Testing Tools - XenonStack

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

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) - The Complete Guide

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?

Web Application Security Testing Software - PortSwigger

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.

Beyond Data Science - Unit testing | by Mohammed Sunasra | Medium

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.

What Is Web Application Security? | Web Security | Cloudflare

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.


7 Steps to Creating a Secure Website

Why having a secure website is so important to your small business - Hibu Blog

The sheer number of data breaches and cyberattacks that take place means that when developing a website, companies need to adopt a security mindset. Failure to do so can have disastrous consequences, including substantial fines, loss of business and reputational damage. Ensuring your website is secure means grappling with a wide range of security issues and in this post, we’ll look at ways you can overcome many of the vulnerabilities that pose a threat.

1. A comprehensive security approach

A Comprehensive Approach to Cyber Resilience

Right at the outset of the development process, there should be a disciplined approach to building a site that is end-to-end secure. This is particularly important when the site is being developed by different teams, each working on separate areas. Even if each team is working with security in mind, doing so without an understanding of what other teams are doing can result in data becoming vulnerable. To prevent this, there needs to be someone with oversight of security so that, once all the separate elements are put together, the final website remains comprehensively secure.

2. Validate all data

What is Application Integration? Get Enterprise Level Efficiency

Not validating the data inputted by your users puts your website at risk from various, havoc-wreaking, forms of attack. These include SQL injection, cross-site scripting, command injection and other similar threats. Data validation, therefore, should be built-in to ensure all information inputted is not going to cause harm.

3. Scan your website from the outset

How We Connect and Convert Through Powerful Website Copy

Scanning is fundamental to ensure your website is secure. It enables you to find previously undiscovered vulnerabilities and security holes so that you can fix them. You should scan regularly during the development process and, once launched, you should continue scanning on a daily basis and after each time you make an update to your website or system. Some web hosts will provide a website scanning service for you.

4. Update apps immediately and use clean code

Clean code to develop successful apps | AppFutura

Hackers send out millions of bots a day looking for websites using outdated, vulnerable applications they know they can break into. Updating your software to the latest version or applying a security patch removes these vulnerabilities and makes your site safer. Importantly, the sooner you update, the quicker you become secure. Auto-updates are the safest and most hassle-free way to do this.

To reduce the number of vulnerabilities overall, it is always good practice to delete unnecessary data, databases and software from your server.

Website developers should also make sure they do not use applications with known vulnerabilities. Older platform versions, themes, plugins, etc., should be replaced with the latest clean versions prior to being installed.

5. Use strong passwords

8 tips for creating strong passwords (and still remember them) - The Business Journals

Everyone knows that the sophisticated software used by today’s cybercriminals makes it easy to crack weak passwords. Enabling users to keep default passwords or use weak passwords puts your company at risk of attack. For this reason, there’s no excuse not to enforce strong passwords on your site. Indeed, implementing two-factor authentication where, for example, a code is sent to the user’s phone, can make security significantly tighter. And as virtually everyone has a mobile phone these days, such methods of authentication shouldn’t be too much of a burden on your users.

6. Rigorous permissions management

What is access control? | Authorization vs authentication | Cloudflare

The issue with weak passwords is exacerbated when administrator permissions and privileges are not well managed. If these are given to non-essential users and third-parties, the website becomes increasingly vulnerable to attack. Organisations need to have a clear policy in place about how permissions are managed and this should include precautions which ensure that the higher the level of privilege a user has, the stronger their authentication process needs to be.

7. Encrypt your data

How to Encrypt All Your Online and Offline Data

If you store personal data about your users, the best way to keep it secure is to encrypt it. This way, even if your database is breached and the information stolen, the hackers won’t be able to access it.  If you sell directly from your website, you should also encrypt the user’s financial data while it is in transit from their browser to your site. This prevents it from being stolen on-route. You can do this by installing an SSL certificate.


Security is essential for all websites in order to protect your company and your users from today’s sophisticated cybercriminals. To make your website secure, you need to put things in place during its development, rather than bolting them on at the end of the process. Hopefully, the points raised in this post will help you develop a secure site of your own.

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