Are you aware that nearly 84% of software breaches exploit the vulnerabilities present in the application layer? Shocking but true! And with the web being such a diverse platform, weaknesses aren’t scarce. As most of us are getting more reliant on the utility of different applications, the extent of threats is also increasing considerably. To reduce the attacks on the applications and protect them from subsequent damages, application security testing has proved to be the ultimate savior.
So here is a brief description of application security testing and the types of web application security testing.
What is Application Security Testing?
The term security testing refers to the software testing category that helps to uncover:
- Risks associated with the software application
- Continuous security threats
- Possible vulnerabilities
Added to this, web application security testing also prevents malicious cyber-attacks and threats coming from intruders. The main work behind the application security testing is to recognize the digital and software system related weaknesses and every possible loophole that can cause significant damages to the concerned business, like:
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of data
- Loss of revenue
The central ideology behind web app security is to recognize the different types of threats present in your system following its potential vulnerabilities. After identifying those, the application security testing uses various security aspects to prevent your order from being exploited or inappropriately cease to function.
The web application security testing also acts as a digital guard for your system by keeping an eye on and detecting every possible security risk. Aside from this, if an issue arises, the web app security testing works as a smart assistant to the developers and helps them to resolve the issues via coding.
Different Types of Application Security Testing
If you have launched an app or a website, it must follow the testing process. The main reason to do so is to identify and find different security hacks.
According to the What is Application Security Testing, there are some web application security testing that you should know about:
Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
Why is it necessary?
SAST is designed to be an automated application security testing and delivers results consistently. It can help all major organizations to curb security concerns from various hazards that can be seen in desktop apps and mobile applications.
The entire process of SAST testing includes scanning of the source codes for vulnerabilities and making reports. It can even make code fixes for the vulnerabilities that it scans. With this security testing tool, quite a good amount of friction can be removed from web applications. Moreover, it can even help in testing weaknesses and problems while building and the answer back is highlighted in seconds.
SAST tools can help in redefining, you can redefine your application security testing.
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)
DAST is also a very crucial application security testing procedure. It works in a way that can investigate applications while they are running to detect security vulnerabilities. It is a fact that the vulnerabilities and threats are growing at a rapid scale and this is the only reason why businesses consider deploying DAST.
Why is it necessary?
Now, though web applications suffer attacks as a major threat, these aren’t as deadly as ransomware. The most common way that web applications have security issues is via SQL injection.
The next common way hackers use to take advantage of the vulnerabilities is cross-site scripting. The hackers inject their codes into the web applications through which they steal confidential data, cookies, and credentials.
There are two different types of DAST testing. They are:
- Automated DAST
DAST scanners are mostly activated by crawlers. Such crawlers use bots to scan through websites automatically and log every page of the application. Further, the security testing setup audits the entire web application for any possible vulnerability. This audit even includes checking for brute force attacks too.
Now, such an automated DAST can detect many different kinds of vulnerabilities.
- Manual DAST
Automated DAST and or SAST are good for regular security checks. But context-based business logic vulnerabilities require human intervention.
The tester has understood the context of the application and then creates test cases to change the response manually that is exchanged between the browser and the server. This opens up a huge prospect of exploring all the vulnerabilities and working on mitigating them.
Why is Application Security Important?
As per the reports published by the 2016 Breach Level Index, the United States alone had cases of 728 data breaches. This was a statistic of reported 974 breach incidents for which millions of confidential documents were lost. As the numbers were alarmingly high, most businesses, both small and large, have considered opting for the adoption of application security.
The fundamentals of security testing are no doubt a vital part of application testing. The use of different types of testing processes helps you to enhance the functionality and stability of the applications. The main focus of using this application security is to ensure and develop safe and stable apps.
With the use of security testing, you can recognize the web application security vulnerabilities and address them to avoid:
Fine and legal implications for easy-going and non-restrictive security measures:
- Expenditures are related to hacking recovery damages like restoring backups, reinstalling services, etc.
- Loss of time
- Website downtime
- Hindrance in revenue collection or generation via online means
Added to the above, here are some of the risks and benefits associated with web application security testing.
Risks from Web App Security
1. Facing Lawsuits
As per a report shared by CNN business, a giant digital marketing company (name withheld) is still reeling under a lawsuit against a major allegation of a data breach that took place 6 years ago (2014). Not only the breach compromised the accounts of 500 million users, but the extravagant fees of the hired lawyer also brought the business under the bus.
When data breaches take place, it is not just a loss of confidential or personal information, it is also a loss of legal reputation.
2. Compromised and Poor Brand Image
Well, almost every company or website would love to have free publicity. Most business owners will agree that good publicity creates a better brand impression in the minds of people and increases its popularity.
But the above report is a classic example of negative publicity. The brand name is adversely affected due to this, diminishing its identity and positive perception. Even if the culprit is a malicious cyber attacker, your company’s brand image might be compromised due to insufficient data security.
What people will see are the vulnerabilities and not the great work that you have done and the services you offered.
Another instance that can be noted here is of a scanned application Veracode, which was highlighted by the report presented by Veracode 2016 State of Software Security. As per that, certain companies had to suffer from poor brand image due to these net vulnerabilities.
Benefits of Application Security Testing
- Better Reputation
With the rise in cyber-attacks in the current times (especially during the pandemic), most enterprises of an average level are using and preferring to adopt more than 600 mission-critical applications. Added to this, financial organizations are also not far behind. A majority (nearly 800) of them have already opted for an added layer of online security in the form of mission-critical application testing.
Companies who have accepted to use application security testing have experienced better security features and growth in their brand name and performance.
This is because more people prefer to be associated with companies that have security provisions related to web application firewalls, ensuring protection from bots, cyber-attacks, and ransomware.
Tips related to Web App Security
- Always ensure that your security software is up to date. This is applicable for both, your system software, as well as your server operating system.
- It is a good practice to try and take the assistance of ‘professionals’ who have a better understanding of the possible techniques that hackers commonly use.
- Always back your data up as an added security measure. This backup should also be in a secured cloud.
- Even if your developers are trying hard to make the user interface simple, never forget to sanitize the user output.
- Use excellent web application security tools to monitor and protect your website.
- Never forget to implement a strong password policy. A stronger password makes it harder for hackers to break into your account. Having a strong password also helps in eliminating brute-force security breaches.
- Apart from the implementation of strong passwords, go for multiple-step or multiple-factor verification. It is also known as 2FA (Two-factor authentication) that double-checks your digital identity to confirm your legitimate digital presence.
Even if we keep aside the various types of web application security testing methods, it is important for you to realize and understand how crucial such tests play in the maintenance of your application’s health. We need to understand that data security protection holds both customer’s confidence and your business’s reputation and integrity. So, there should not be an inch of a space left for any form of compromise in the security of the network.
Originally published at https://www.indusface.com.