Have you ever wondered what keeps any web application running without any external threats? How do these applications function without any interruptions whatsoever? Along with the additional security enforced in their safe running, there are specific protocols these applications follow to ensure that they are protected from any threats or breaches. Moreover, any web application for that matter adopts a way of testing their defence systems through a testing method known as web app penetration testing.
While the terminology might be a bit new to many, it’s how all the vulnerabilities and loopholes in the security and safety of the web application is discovered. In fact, such testing is necessary for companies to identify vulnerabilities and loopholes in their web app. Studies have shown that about 68% of the total web applications were breached to harness sensitive information and other credentials according to ptsecurity.
Furthermore, web app security testing also helps you acquire security certificates that are a mandatory requirement to operate in an industrial sector and are evermore crucial for the trustworthiness of your business. While some certificates are more global, some are extremely specific to an industry or demography. In India, companies are looking to acquire certificates like the CERT-In by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, RBI ISMS policy, SEBI ISMS policy, SOC, etc. to meet the government security guidelines. Check out the detailed guide on Security testing & VAPT in India to check for the complete process, timelines & pricing
Moving on, let’s learn more about web app security testing and how one could get started with it.
The meaning behind web app penetration testing
Web app penetration testing is a type of testing where learning the way in which your web app’s defence systems deals with vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it also helps in checking the effectiveness of your existing security system in handling external and internal threats, identifying vulnerable areas of attacks and its prevention, loophole findings, testing of firewalls, DNS, routers, and others to check efficacy and function in keeping the threat away.
Every test differs from another. Based on the web application and its purpose, different penetration tests can be executed to know how practical the web application is in keeping away threats from its normal functioning. Typically, these tests comprise of two types –
- Internal penetration testing.
As the name suggests, such tests are executed within the firewalls where it checks for any compromising factor that could hinder the web application’s functioning. It could be malicious attacks plugged in internally, phishing attacks from the company itself, etc.
- External penetration testing.
These are test attacks directed externally towards the web app. It’s where all the tests are attacked by testers who function like hackers hacking the firewall, routers, DNS systems, and more. A wholesome approach as such can avail respective results to determine the web app’s effectiveness in real-life scenarios.
How to get started with a web app pen test?
Despite having web app pen testing carried out in a lengthy format, we have boiled down the methodology to three steps. One is followed by the other; each step is crucial in getting a definite outcome to the penetration tests. They are conducted in a similar pattern but then differ based on the requirement of the tests. All of which are elaborated in detail below.
- Planning phase.
The planning phase is the phase in which the decision on what type of test is to be performed is depicted. Typically, it’s like the blueprint on what the test should be and what outcomes we are looking for. It’s where the scope of the tests determined based on the outcome to be availed. Even the documentation to be issued to the testers is decided along with the success criteria and the result this test should bring about. Finally, the environment under which the test would be conducted is formulated where the type of firewall, the type of threat, under what condition the servers and the application are to be kept, etc., are all determined and then proceeded.
- Execution phase.
The step is the execution of the pre-defined tests set up to be executed. It’s where a specific threat is executed to the web app, and how the web app deals with it is all reported while checking the firewall’s success rate in keeping the breaches out. Here, while testing we use a set of automated security tools which test application on several parameters. All the information and data generated during the testing phase show how effective the firewalls are under the attacks. Moreover, to test the firewalls’ limits, different threats can be implemented, and adequate reports are to be generated. With each security testing & VAPT report, you can compare how the firewall or security has done and where the vulnerabilities might lay on the security implemented in the web app.
- Post execution phase.
The final step in the testing phase is the reporting and suggestions phase. It’s where all the data and information generated through testing is converted to an understandable lingo and presented to the concerned parties. You could offer your remedies to tackle specific problems and also mention the vulnerabilities found. Even the impact of not treating these vulnerabilities are to be discussed in greater detail. However, the essential part of this step is the clean-up process, where the threat imposed on the web app is neutralized and reset to how it was before the test began.
With that being said, penetration tests are essential to safeguard your web applications. Though they are lengthy and take up considerable resources in its execution, it’s better to be safe than sorry later on. However, customizing these tests is quite possible, and based on the website’s function, they can be tested for the same.