Friday, November 24, 2023

Why Testing Security of a Website is Crucial

Table Of Contents

    Testing security of a website is a process that needs to be followed with each new update for your application. But it's not limited to that.

    As cyber threats and attacks are getting more complex, it is the need of the hour to continuously check security measures for your software using web application security testing tools.

    Just investing in security testing tools is not sufficient in this day and age. Security-conscious software leaders are ensuring that their tools are helping them continuously monitor their web apps, APIs and cloud platforms.

    This continuous security testing capability is offered by a select few modern application security tools.

    For example, Cyber Chief is an application security testing tool that now helps you secure web apps, APIs and cloud security posture management as well.

    However, not all security assessments for your applications can be automated, particularly when it comes to vulnerabilities arising from business logic errors. That's when you need the help of a web app pentest services company to help you perform deep-dive security assessments and secure your customers' sensitive data, beyond what your automated processes give you.

    Note that in this article, when I refer to a website, I refer to web applications rather than static, public-facing corporate websites.

    Here is what you need to know about security testing for a web app and why you need to shift from the conventional DevOps framework to the DevSecOps approach.

    Want free expert insights about the security structure that is right for your organization?

    What is Security Testing for Websites?

    Web application security testing evaluates your software's vulnerability resilience posture, which includes various layers such as the application layer, network layer, and database layer. Developers and security professionals employ various techniques to simulate real-world cyber threats, including penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and code review.

    An easier way to conduct a web application security test is by combining automated security testing tools and manual security testing techniques to uncover potential weaknesses in web applications, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), security misconfigurations and other OWASP Top 10 and SANS CWE 25 vulnerabilities. 

    While identification of the potential vulnerabilities in web apps is an important step, addressing and fixing these vulnerabilities against exploitation of detected vulnerabilities is equally important and enhances user trust.

    How Do You Evaluate Website Security?

    For web application security testing, you can employ techniques like penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and manual code reviews. This multifaceted approach for web application security testing assesses the security posture across different layers, such as the application, network, and database layers.

    While these are some of the conventional security testing methods, you have to add automated vulnerability assessment tools to check your website’s security posture and to continuously monitor critical vulnerabilities.

    To initiate the evaluation of web application security testing, developers and security experts often conduct thorough penetration testing to simulate real-world attacks, identifying potential weaknesses like SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).

    Along with these manual security assessment techniques, automated penetration testing tools can be employed to detect and address security gaps systematically in between your deep dive manual pentesting projects.

    Furthermore, manual code reviews are crucial in assessing the security of the website's underlying source code. Identifying and rectifying security misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in the code is integral to fortifying the overall security posture. These reviews should be done with static code analysis tools (SAST) as well as manual reviews within your team.

    Testing the security of a website is a comprehensive process which includes manual application techniques testing and automated software security tools. You can also outsource your securing scanning requirements by working with a security company that offers pentest as a service.

    With regular web application security testing, you can proactively identify and mitigate potential threats, ensuring a strong defence mechanism against evolving cyber risks.

    Want your apps, APIs and cloud platform security tested on autopilot, with your existing team?

    Why is DevSecOps important to web app security?

    DevSecOps allows you to instill a culture of continuous security throughout the software development lifecycle. This is popularly known as shift left model. Contrary to conventional software security practices, it provides you with a structured security testing framework, so you don't have to wait for long periods to identify and fix vulnerabilities.

    DevSecOps is currently being adopted by many organizations globally, mainly for the collaborative step it offers between development, security and operations teams to build web application security controls into their apps right from within the SDLC.

    Essentially, DevSecOps allows your development teams to assess your applications for functional, load and security testing earlier in your software engineering workflow without impacting timelines for software delivery.

    While you might be wondering how can security testing be added to your current CI/CD pipelines, let me explain how. One of the simplest ways in which you can add web application security testing is by adding automated web application security tools such as Cyber Chief to your CI/CD pipelines.

    Cyber Chief will help your web application development team with software security testing, API security and cloud posture security management. This is a 4-in-1 security testing tool, known for its developer-friendly user interface.

    You can use this automated web app vulnerability testing tool to schedule and scan applications even after work hours. By morning your developers will have an analysis report for all the security risks that need immediate attention. Cyber Chief will also rank these potential vulnerabilities in the order of severity, making it easier for your developer to resolve the high-risk issues first.

    But this is not all, Cyber Chief will also provide you code snippets that your developers can use to fix the potential vulnerabilities in your web application code base. 

    Not only will Cyber Chief give them these best practices but by running security as part of the software development life cycle your developers will be able to save hundreds of hours of productivity because they no longer have to waste time searching for the right fix on Google.

    Want to move from DevOps to DevSecOps with Cyber Chief?

    What are different types of security testing?

    Web security testing plays a pivotal role in identifying and addressing security risks that can be potential threats to the data hosted on your applications. Web application security assessment can be done by examining the source code, simulating an external attack, or a hybrid approach. Here are some of the preferred web application security testing methods:

    1. Black-Box Testing

    Black box testing is the most surface-level testing that can be conducted for your web applications and software. In this security testing web apps technique, the security professional will have no login access for conducting authenticated scanning. Even though black-box testing, is somewhat a kind of functional testing, it is still essential for your web apps. 
    When adding the right vulnerability testing tools, it should provide you with the option of conducting black box testing along with grey box testing for your application and software. 

    Automated testing tools should ideally be able to scan your application without reading your application code and provide you with a detailed analysis report. As you must be aware of vulnerability scanning and identification should be followed by remediation of the vulnerabilities, the security testing tools should provide you with code fixes or snippets or guidelines for best practices.

    2. Gray-Box Testing

    Gray-box testing is a type of authenticated vulnerability scanning. In this, security teams examine the security of an application by infiltrating it, i.e. by authenticating it and accessing the sensitive data hosted on the application.

    This approach helps security professionals mimic realistic scenarios where an attacker might try to exploit any inacccuratly configured application authentication methods. Gray-box testing is beneficial in uncovering security threats that might lead to data breaches.

    Whether you choose to conduct security audits with white-box testing, black-box testing or gray-box security testing methods, scanning software for potential security vulnerabilities is now considered an indispensable part of software security.

    3. White-Box Testing

    White-box testing involves surface-level scanning and infiltration scanning (authenticated scanning). These vulnerability scannings do have a risk of your code being accessed by the tester. Even if white-box testing is the most in-depth and comprehensive method of application testing, most tools available would require you to grant access to your code.

    On the contrary, Cyber Chief is an automated security testing tool that can help you and your development team conduct white-box testing, with no code exposure. All you have to do is select the type of scanning you want, i.e. unauthenticated or authenticated testing and it will do that without exposing your code. 

    Cyber Chief is a 4-in-1 automated application security assessment tool that can help you with web and mobile application scanning, API security and cloud posture security management. You can save time by automating your security scanning with its schedule and scan feature.

    One way to make the most of this amazing feature is to schedule tests at 1 am so that when your developer get started with their work the next morning, they have a clear idea of the vulnerabilities that need to be fixed.

    Cyber Chief will also rank the security vulnerabilities in the order of severity ranging from high priority to low priority, along with an analysis report and possible code fixes based on your application coding language.

    Want your vulnerabilities fixed right from within your SDLC, without slowing down your new feature roll-outs?

    What are Security Testing Tools?

    Just as applications are scanned for functional issues, web application security testing tools help you to secure your apps and APIs for security issues. As most applications are developed under an Agile project management framework, adding automated web application security testing tools will help with continuous monitoring of applications with every new update that is released.

    Automated web app security testing tools can provide you with a detailed analysis report for all the vulnerabilities that are detected.

    Web Application Security Checklist

    Web application security testing is an elaborate process, which requires you to check plenty of things. For starters, you need to check the authentication security measures for your mobile and web app. Some of the important things you need to add to your application security checklist are:

    1. Is auto-fill for passwords disabled for the application?

    2. Are the users being prompted to use complex passwords?

    3. Is two-factor authentication available to your users?

    While these might seem like some fundamental security controls that are put in place to protect customer data, you and your development team need to provide these options on the user end of your web app too!

    Apart from these authentication and verification controls, you also need to verify session management security controls, access controls, log-in and error handling security measures using an application security checklist and minimize risk for data breaches.

    To make web application security testing easy for you and your development team you need to employ automated security testing tools. Automated security testing tools such as Cyber Chief will help your developer fix low-priority security risks so that your security professionals can focus on critical issues on your web applications.

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