Tuesday, October 31, 2023

How to do application penetration testing with your current devs & QA team

Table Of Contents

    Around 94% of applications have recorded some type of broken access control security risks in their applications, whereas the incident rate was noted to be 3.81% on average, as per reports from OWASP.  To prevent potential security issues from being exploited, performing application penetration testing once or twice a year isn't enough.

    Ensuring that every update released for your application is rigorously tested for security holes through penetration testing is important for compliance with cyber security laws, privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA and also other regulatory frameworks, particularly for fintech, banking, insurance and other regulated industries.

    Let me tell you all the things you need to know about web application penetration testing and the benefits of integrating automated penetration testing tools.

    What is Application Penetration Testing?

    Application penetration testing is done by consistently recreating or simulating real-world cyberattacks on your web applications and APIs in an attempt to exploit potential SaaS security vulnerabilities.

    There are two ways in which web app penetration testing can be done:

    • Automated Web Application Penetration Testing: Using automated penetration testing tools and services for scanning security holes in the web application.

    • Manual Penetration Testing:- Done by penetration testers who follow prescribed penetration testing methodologies to explore and exploit any potential vulnerabilities that can be a threat to web application's security.

    While most organisations have the best coders in their software development team, very few have a system for regular web application penetration testing to prevent cyber attacks.

    With around 2,200 cyber-attacks occurring daily, more organizations are keenly interested in implementing preventive measures to detect security loopholes and fix them through penetration testing.

    Want to know how Cyber Chief secures apps by helping your devs patch vulnerabilities without relying on security experts?

    And get started on your free trial!

    Why is Web Application Penetration Testing Important?

    Testing applications for potential vulnerabilities through web application penetration testing is important for safeguarding all sensitive data. Organizations should not neglect penetration testing in the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). Web app penetration testing prevents the chances of cyber attacks caused by to exploitation of security issues that were not tested.

    As the number of cyber attacks is increasing at an alarming rate, most regulatory bodies have made it mandatory to conduct regular security assessments and penetration testing. Web application penetration testing and Android and iOS app pentesting companies offer tools and services to assist software development companies in protecting their data and complying with the regulations for cyber security.

    What is Penetration Testing in API?

    API penetration testing is done to discover the security issues in the integration of APIs and the data it handles. API penetration testing, can be performed by automated API security tools but should also be performed as part of a thorough pentesting as a service solution.

    Penetration testing APIs is useful for scanning for security holes such as authentication issues, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, etc.

    Apart from these, penetration testing for APIs can also be helpful in:

    • Data Validation: It is crucial for preventing security vulnerabilities as this test verifies if the API is properly validating and sanitising data that the user inputs.

    • Error Handling: Testers need to ensure that the API is handling the error messages correctly. Insecure error handling can become an easy security hole through which attackers can exploit sensitive information regarding the API.

    • API Versioning: It is necessary to test how new updates and API versioning is managed as it can lead to security issues if not handled correctly.

    • Third-party Dependencies: If an API relies on any third-party services, penetration testing will help in scanning any security issues in these services which can be a threat to the API.

    What is Application vs. Network Penetration Testing?

    Application penetration testing and network penetration testing are two distinctive yet complementary approaches for examining the security of applications and their infrastructure. An application penetration test is done for scanning web application vulnerabilities. These can also include mobile apps, desktop applications and API.

    Whereas, network penetration testing is focused on accessing an organization's network infrastructure, such as security firewalls, network services and other network appliances.

    Application and network penetration testing is necessary for a thorough audit of your organization's IT environment. These activities help to identify vulnerabilities that can compromise your security leading to operational disruptions and data theft.

    Does Every New Update Require Application Penetration Testing?

    Software development is a dynamic and continuous process that requires a robust development cycle. Even if the web apps are tested rigorously through the development process, vulnerabilities can still arise. Web application penetration testing tools can be beneficial in discovering these security issues in the CI/CD pipelines.

    The right automated web penetration testing tools, eg. DAST tools, allow development teams to fix fundamental security issues, like cross-site scripting, SQL injection attacks and others, during development so that those vulnerabilities never make it to production.

    By implementing this structure within your web app development process, you can significantly reduce the cost of implementing fixes after releasing the application.

    One of the most effective ways for your organization to check if your web apps are free from security threats, well before new features and updates are released, is by integrating a developer-friendly automated API and web app internal pen testing tool like Cyber Chief into your CI/CD pipelines.

    Want to know how Cyber Chief can be software development team's security assistant?

    What are the Benefits of Application Penetration Testing?

    1. Protects Sensitive Data from Cyber Attacks

    Web application penetration testing helps in identifying and fixing potential security risks. You can choose to integrate automated testing tools that have the option to schedule and execute tests. So, once the test is done you can go through the reports to check security issues and implement fixes.

    2. Ensures Compliance with Regulations

    As cyber laws for protecting the privacy and security of users are getting stringent, companies need to follow the regulations. Using automated tools and services for pen testing will make it easier for your company to ensure that your applications are secure from any cyber-attacks.

    3. Identify Vulnerabilities Early in the Development Process

    While most companies focus on developing the application and then testing it for vulnerabilities, checking the application for potential security issues in the development process can save a lot of time. Application penetration testing tools like Cyber Chief can be easily integrated into your SDLC and CI/CD pipeline as well.

    4. Saves Money

    Web application vulnerability scanning can prevent hackers from attacking your application to gain access to sensitive data once it is released. Conducting application penetration tests throughout the development process can help your organization save money on implementing fixes after the product is released.

    5. Builds Trust with Partners and Investors

    Web application security testing will affect your company's reputation in the long run. A lower rate of security issues will indicate compliance with cyber laws and ensure that sensitive data in web applications is protected. This will let your partners and investors know that your software development process is up to the global industry standards.

    How is Penetration Testing Performed for Web Applications?

    Penetration testing for web applications can be performed manually and with automated testing tools. Development teams can include an automated penetration testing tool for checking the web application security.

    The pen testing tool will empower them to fix minor security issues in the early development stages. Cyber Chief is a developer-first automated testing tool that can be easily integrated into your SDCL and CI/CD pipelines. It has a user-friendly interface with testing tools for authentication testing and CSPM testing.

    Unlike other pen testing tools, it won't take hours or days for you to get started with Cyber Chief. It will ensure that your products are tested thoroughly for security issues before shipping them.

    Curious to know how Cyber Chief helps with automated penetration testing?

    Another method for performing web application penetration testing is through manually testing the web application for any potential vulnerabilities. Manual testing by an advanced penetration tester allows penetration testers to focus on critical issues by performing internal web app security testing that often cannot be found by automated tools.

    Since no tool can provide complete protection from security issues, it is recommended to employ web application penetration testing tools along with a manual penetration testing guidance framework.

    Stages of Application Penetration Testing

    1. Defining the Scope

    It is necessary to define the scope of the web application penetration test. This includes defining the target system, objectives, and scope - for example internal penetration testing (gray box) or external penetration testing (black box).

    It can be a collaborative step between you and the penetration testing services team.

    2. Reconnaissance

    Once the penetration test scope is defined, your penetration testers gather all the necessary information about the target application, APIs and underlying cloud infrastructure.

    This includes identifying and understanding the architecture of the web application and the potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers for pen testing.

    Unlike common industry practices that often waste your development team's time, Audacix's web app pen testing services don't require you to give us a demo of your application and APIs.

    Understanding and exploring the workflows in your application and API is a part of Audacix's pen testing framework, which not only saves you time but also helps in exploiting vulnerabilities more intimately in your application like a real hacker will.

    To know more about Audacix's Penetration testing services book a demo now!

    3. Vulnerability Analysis

    In vulnerability analysis of penetration testing, the developers and security experts will have to identify all the potential vulnerabilities in the web application, such as authentication flaws, security misconfigurations, etc.

    In this step of pen testing, several tools and techniques, including automated testing tools and manual pen testing techniques will be implemented to check the web application for any weaknesses.

    4. Exploitation

    Once the security issues are identified in the web application, the software development team will try to access the target system through these security issues by attacking the application ethically. For pen testing for applications, the development team will replicate attacks similar to what hackers use to exploit any security holes in the web application.

    5. Reporting

    Once the exploitation process is done, a detailed analysis report will be made where all the issues discovered during pen testing of the web applications will be enlisted. One major advantage of using Cyber Chief for automated penetration testing is that it provides a detailed report of all detected security issues. You can also invite your team members to work on the issues detected during pen testing on Cyber Chief.

    Deploying suitable vulnerability management systems is crucial to helping your team patch known vulnerabilities on time. Otherwise you leave yourself open to having something that was known in your team all along be exploited and then cause you a whole world of hurt.

    How to do web app pentesting

    That's why Cyber Chief's subscription model doesn't restrict the number of team members you can add to your project. By making your developers and QA team responsible for some security activities you help your teams shift left and minimise the chances of expensive security breaches that could've been prevented.

    After all, isn't that your end goal?

    6. Remediation

    Once the development team has all the information regarding the security issues in the web application, they can start making changes to the application and fixing these issues. The team of developers can do this by making the necessary changes in the web application.

    Along with it, the developers might also have to implement other remedial security measures. This will protect the application from similar cyber threats in the future.

    Cyber Chief is a web application penetration testing tool that will provide you with potential solutions for fixing the security issues in your web application.

    7. Post-Testing Measures

    The post-testing measures that you implement within your team will be critical in determining the ROI you get from your web application penetration testing project. I'm referring specifically to the development capacity you devote to fixing vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.

    During this process, your development team needs to ensure that they have implemented the fixes recommended in the web app penetration test report.

    Adding post-testing measures for the penetration test process in your software development and cyber security strategy will help maintain your web applications' resilience and safety.

    By integrating the automated application security testing tool Cyber Chief, developers can easily conduct quality assessments before shipping your web application. It allows you to maintain a high baseline for your security posture for new code and features released in web applications.

    The Bottom Line...

    Integrating penetration testing in your software development cycle can be extremely beneficial. This will let the developers know about the security threats right when they are in the development process.

    With Cyber Chief as their automated penetration testing tool, the development teams can schedule and execute web application penetration tests, and run authentication tests to check for potential vulnerabilities in their applications.

    This helps reduce the costs associated with fixing these issues after your newest release is in production. It also assures all your customers and investors that your web applications and APIs are protected from cyberattacks.

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