During web application penetration testing, a security team will evaluate a network’s security by attempting to infiltrate it the way attackers would breach a company’s system. The security expert will examine the attack surface of all the company’s browser-based applications and use similar steps an unauthorized user would employ to gain access to the system’s valuable information.
The penetration test also ensures that developers create web applications that are not vulnerable to intruders. Anyone who develops web apps must be aware of all security threats before selling their product to a customer. Otherwise, they will jeopardize their reputation; most web application creators cannot quickly bounce back after data breaches.
Hiring a web application pen tester is an efficient way to ensure the app meets or exceeds its functionality, performance, security, and reliability standards.
What is the Purpose of Penetration Testing?
Assuming your company’s security system is secure against attacks is a common mistake. Technology is always evolving and improving, and cyber defense measures that worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. More people are developing internet resources and software that hackers can use to infiltrate a once-secure network system.
Web applications often store sensitive information that people can exploit for personal gain. Web app penetration testing identifies the ever-growing list of network vulnerabilities so that businesses can take the appropriate steps to patch any flaws and prevent threats to their information. Without a routine penetration test, a business’s data can find its way online, putting the organization and its clients at risk.
Every business uses at least one web application to conduct day-to-day tasks, whether it involves transferring money between various accounts, making purchases, or using open-source components to build a company web app.
What are Web Application Risks?
Web application penetration testers have a vast knowledge of app development and understand some of the mistakes developers make that allow online thieves to invade their application.
Here are some of the most common web application risks:
- Cross-Site Scripting: Also known as XSS, this risk occurs with apps that execute scripts in a browser and respond to untrustworthy requests. Cyber attackers will use cross-site scripting to hijack a website, deface it, alter its cookie settings, or redirect unsuspecting users to websites where they can be tricked into divulging sensitive data.
- Security Misconfiguration: This issue occurs when web app developers don’t correctly define the app’s security configurations and related components. Such vulnerabilities make it possible for hackers to gain unauthorized access to input fields and URLs.
- SQL Injection: An SQL injection is a type of hacking whereby an unauthorized user changes the SQL statements on an app’s backend and tricks it into performing commands that give the hacker unauthorized access to information.
- Vulnerable Components: The entire application must be secure, down to each component. Unfortunately, developers sometimes use old, unsupported features that are vulnerable to attacks. Unauthorized users will manipulate these weaknesses to access sensitive data or take control of the company’s network.
- Broken Access Controls: Authorized network users can unintentionally gain access to system segments that extend beyond the reach of their designated duties, leaving the network susceptible to unauthorized use.
Internal Penetration Testing
The internal pen test takes place within the organization over the LAN to test web applications on the company’s intranet. This process examines the system for vulnerabilities inside the firewall that an intruder could manipulate from the inside.
Unfortunately, many people assume cyberattacks occur from outside the network, not the other way around, but this is not wholly correct. Internal web application pen testing can uncover several potential issues that would not otherwise be identified, including:
- Malicious attacks from disgruntled workers and contractors who no longer work for the company but are aware of passwords and security policies
- Phishing attacks
- Attacks by abusing user privileges or misusing unlocked workstations
- Social engineering attacks to gain data by manipulating people
An internal web application penetration tester will conduct the test without the necessary network credentials in their attempt to find security vulnerabilities.
External Penetration Testing
Like the internal web app pen test, the external web application penetration test attempts to uncover security flaws but from outside the company’s network instead of inside. The security testing process also includes applications on the internet. During this process, the testers will simulate a hack as someone who wants to gain access to the system without knowledge of its infrastructure.
At the beginning of the test, the pen tester will use the company’s IP address without any other data. They will use public web pages on the internet for information gathering. If they find details about the target website, they will then use the data to compromise it.
This type of test includes IDS, servers, and firewalls.