Web applications stand as one of those revolutionary innovations that hold a domineering status in our world today. Many revered business houses have already developed web applications that contribute to their operations immensely. The universality of web apps also makes them an easy target for malicious hackers. Hence, the extent of data security that these web apps can offer can feel questionable. Research from Verizon highlights that 26 percent of all data breaches are related to web application attacks. This colossal proportion makes it the second most prevalent way of exploitation. Patently, any type of organization with a virtual presence in the form of a web application should understand the need for a sound cybersecurity structure.
Under the guidance of cybersecurity specialists, business entities can resort to web application penetration testing. It is another specialized breed of the penetration testing world. Today, we would like to put the spotlight on the relevant facades of web app pentesting with this article.
What are web apps?
Web applications are software that function via a remote server and are visible through a browser interface on the internet. Unlike regular desktop applications that operate on a native operating system, web apps run on web servers in the backend and are delivered over the internet. Numerous websites that offer different utilities to online users function as web apps. We do not need to install web apps on our devices as they are accessible through virtual networks. Varied forms of business ventures design multiple types of web applications as per their requisites.
What does web app penetration testing mean?
Web application penetration testing refers to the process of evaluating the robustness of any given web app against intrusion. The pen testing team assesses the possible misconfigurations in the application system that can lead to misappropriation and misuse of sensitive data. Web app pentesting incorporates methodological steps to spot web application vulnerabilities, plan a simulated attack on the application, and compromise it.
Why should an organization select web application pentesting?
There is a very high possibility that an organization’s web apps can get infested with many coding mistakes or cybersecurity flaws. Web application penetration testing can offer the necessary indemnification information for entities to improve their security posture.
This penetration testing category offers benefits like:
Supports the assessment of how effective are the prevailing cybersecurity tactics for the web app
It would help if you had proper assurance that your web application’s implemented cybersecurity program works adequately. A web app pentest shall reveal whether your safeguard measures are suitable enough to keep attackers at bay.
Such pentesting helps in retaining the reputation of your enterprise
An unfitting data security posture prone to repeated attacks will surely not gel well with maintaining a good reputation. All business entities put in tons of effort to keep their reputation intact, especially for their online presence. Timely web application penetration tests ensure that you do not face fatal breaches in your system that can ruin your public standing.
Enables the discovery of security risks and loopholes in the application
Web app penetration tests prove to be one of the best ways to bring to light all forms of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exposures that your application faces. The professional pentesters are well-equipped to showcase the areas of improvement while offering credible remediations.
Allows better analysis of configuration and preparedness of publicly accessible components of the web app
The web application components mainly available to the public tend to be more prone to exploits and misuse. Web app pentesting leads to a thorough analysis of the configuration and strength of required application elements to prevent any onslaught.
Eases the compliance process with relevant security regulations for the web app developers
Various regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS might need liable organizations to conduct penetration tests, including web app pentesting. If one chooses to run such pentests periodically, they extensively streamline the regulatory compliance process.
What are the most common vulnerabilities that pentesting teams find during web application penetration tests?
There are some common types of vulnerabilities that entities can find in their web applications. The OWASP Top 10 web application security risks for each year are notable for finding your application’s weak zones. It acts as a standard awareness document representing a broad consensus related to the critical security risks to web apps. OWASP promotes a secure coding culture, and developers recognize it globally.
The OWASP top ten security risks for 2021 include:
- Broken access controls
- Cryptographic failure
- Insecure design
- Security misconfiguration
- Vulnerable outdated components
- Identification and Authentication failures
- Security logging and monitoring failures
- Server-side request forgery
What is the usual methodology that pentesters employ to perform web app pen testing?
Ideally, there are four phases as per which pentesting teams carry out web app penetration tests. Let us view each of these steps in detail.
The planning phase
It is the phase that lays down the foundation of the penetration testing project. Testers undertake the tasks related to determining the scope, the testing timeline along with the course of the tests to be performed. During the planning phase, the testing team attains clarity regarding the web application components that they need to test. They even define the forms of pentesting- internal or external that they should perform.
The pre-attack phase
Testers also view this phase as the information-gathering stage. At this stage, they lay grounds for the execution of the test by collecting all necessary details. Primarily, publicly available information is gathered to stimulate an attack.
The attack phase
Here is the phase where the testing team starts intruding and exploiting the discovered weaknesses and exposures. They identify and map the attack vectors. Web application tests include identifying the back-end and front-end technologies in use, identifying any obsolete components there.
The post-attack phase
After the conclusion of the attacking phase come the post-attack tasks. The testers determine whether they need to continue further exploits on the web app and note their observations. They later prepare a report with the findings and processes used. The testers also convey the rectification measures and updated cybersecurity policies that they feel can prove helpful.
What aspects can go wrong while performing a web application penetration test?
It is always better to acquaint ourselves with the possible hiccups we can face before any project. Such knowledge can help us prevent the occurrence of such undesirable instances. During web application penetration testing, the testers may at times struggle with problems like:
- Data corruption or erroneous backend entries
The testers need to submit application field forms at various junctures during the web app testing. This may cause cases of erroneous data entries in the application’s backend database.
- Triggering hidden automation processes
While performing application analysis, the testing team can use automated scanning. It can trigger automated processes like email triggers that can hamper the normal functioning of the web app. This can arise because of the nature of how web applications work. It does not matter what coding or architecture the app is built on, if you trigger a function that sends emails, and there is no appropriate validation, that will send an email.
What are the recognized tools that pentesters use for web application penetration testing?
Certain penetration testing tools have created a benchmark in the cybersecurity domain. Some top web app pentesting tools include:
- Burp Suite
- Network Mapper
Streamlined and tailored web app penetration testing becomes efficiently possible with NaviSec!
A resilient name in the cybersecurity niche, NaviSec has been an anchor for many entities by helping them insecure their computer systems. We have security experts holding eminent qualifications and experience. Our company offers varied types of penetration testing services to promote a defensive culture in your organization. You can get the most useful corrective suggestions to upgrade your security posture!
Take us on board to witness the marvel of our penetration testing proficiency! Call now!