Web Application Security Testing: Types, Phases, and Checklist (2023)

Web Application Security Testing: Types, Phases, and Checklist (1)

If your web application has sensitive information or data lurking around that should not be accessible by the general public, It is your responsibility to ensure that its security is top-notch and well maintained. There are types of testing that can be done on a site before launching, but there are also additional types of security checks that should be done regularly to ensure that the site doesn’t have any vulnerabilities. This article will help you understand what types of tests exist, how they fit into different phases and provide you with a handy checklist to go about this process.

What is Web Security Testing?

Web security testing can be simply defined as the process of evaluating and measuring the security of a website or web application. The main goal of this type of assessment is to assess any potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker with malicious intent. Security testing should ideally be carried out throughout the entire software development life cycle (SDLC) but it’s especially important near the end, just before the site goes live.

(Video) 5-Step Checklist for Web App Security Testing

Why is Security Testing Done in Web Applications?

The main reason for performing web application security testing is that they are one of the most frequent targets of attackers. This is because web applications:

  • Are accessible online
  • Store and process a lot of sensitive data
  • Are often insecure
  • Are easy to attack

What are the Different Types of Web Application Security Testing?

There are different types of web application security tests:

  1. Static analysis – This is also known as “code review” or simply a manual code audit. It’s the process of manually reviewing source code to locate potential security flaws.
  2. Dynamic analysis – Dynamic testing takes a black-box approach to security. This means that the tester has no knowledge of the internals or workings of the application. This type of testing involves probing a website or application for potential vulnerabilities when it is running.
  3. Penetration Testing – Also known as pen testing, penetration tests are carried out by security professionals who follow ethical guidelines (as opposed to hackers) with the intent of finding flaws in systems so they can be fixed before attackers exploit them. Penetration tests usually begin with network mapping to identify all systems and services that are exposed to the internet. After mapping is complete, testers will try to exploit as many vulnerabilities as possible in order to gain access to sensitive data.
  4. Vulnerability Scanning – This type of scanning uses software tools known as vulnerability scanners to probe websites and applications for known security flaws. The most common types of scans include:
    1. Network vulnerability scanning – scans for vulnerabilities in the network and uses this information to create a map of all devices on your network.
    2. Web application vulnerability scanning – scans websites and applications looking for publicly known security flaws.
    3. Database vulnerability scanning – scans for vulnerabilities in the database and web applications.
    4. Operating system vulnerability scanning – scans for vulnerabilities in the Operating System, network devices, and other types of software.

Web Application Security Testing Methodology

Web Application Security Testing: Types, Phases, and Checklist (2)
(Video) Web Security Testing / Penetration Testing / Fuzzy Testing

Depending on the size and nature of a web application, security testing could be done in different phases. In small projects that have limited functionality, it’s possible to test for website vulnerabilities before any code is written or after all functionality has been implemented. The types of tests carried out will depend on what type of software development life cycle (SDLC) is being followed.

What are the Different Phases of Web Application Security Testing?

In general, the phases of security testing in web applications are:

  1. Requirements gathering – This is the first phase of security testing in an SDLC. Requirements gathering helps identify what types of security requirements are needed for a website or application to operate securely.
  2. Threat modeling – If there’s no threat model already available, it will need to be created so you can identify potential threats and vulnerabilities that may exist after the site is launched.
  3. Design phase – Security must be considered during the design phase of a website or application. Reviewing designs for potential vulnerabilities at this stage can help avoid problems later on.
  4. Implementation phase – Security testing should also take place during implementation when code is checked and verified for compliance with security requirements.
  5. Testing phase – After the application has been implemented, it’s subjected to a variety of tests, including functional tests and security tests, to ensure that it meets all requirements. The testing phase may include:
    1. Vulnerability analysis – This involves identifying existing flaws (bugs) that could lead to possible attacks on your system with proof-of-concept code if they’re not fixed before the launch date.
    2. Penetration testing – As part of this test, testers probe web applications with malicious data inputs designed to exploit any known vulnerabilities within an application’s source code as well as user input validation errors.
    3. Security code review – This involves a thorough inspection of the source code to find flaws and potential security issues before it’s released for production use.
  6. Deployment phase – When the application is finalized, it’s released to production where it will be used by end-users. At this point, further security testing may need to be done in order to determine any additional risks that may arise from operational use.
  7. Operation and Maintenance – Security should be an ongoing concern in the operation and maintenance phase of web applications. This includes monitoring systems for newly discovered vulnerabilities and ensuring that patches are applied as soon as they’re released.
  8. Further Development – Once security testing has been completed, it’s important to ensure that the organization continues its commitment to developing a secure web application.

Web Application Security Testing Checklist:

The following is a checklist of items that should be considered when performing security testing on a web application:

(Video) OWASP Checklist and Testing Guide for Webapps #websecurity #bugbounty #OWASP

  • Does the application use proper authentication and authorization mechanisms?
  • Can unauthorized users access any user data, change settings or gain administrator privileges by manipulating URL strings?
  • Are session management methods implemented correctly?
  • What types of sensitive information does this website store?
  • Is sensitive data protected with encryption?
  • Are there any known vulnerabilities that have not been fixed?
  • What would be the impact of a potential breach?
  • How well does the application handle unexpected input or errors?
  • Does your site have security measures in place to prevent Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks that could lead to an attacker gaining control of other people’s accounts without their permission?.
  • How can users upload or enter data into the system?
  • Do you use SSL certificates validated with Extended Validation/Organization Validation for encrypting communications between the browser and server as well as storing passwords securely inside cookies?
  • Is the application hosted on a secure server?
  • Are logs being monitored and reviewed regularly for any signs of attack?
  • How often is the application tested for vulnerabilities and how comprehensive are these tests?

The above list is not exhaustive, but it provides a good starting point for performing security testing on web applications.

Bottom line

Your website or web application should be tested thoroughly to ensure it’s 100% secure. This includes both the front-end and back-end aspects of your site, as well as its support functions such as authentication, authorization, session management, etc. By using the methods described in this post you can help safeguard your company’s data and reputation from cyberattacks.

About the Author

Web Application Security Testing: Types, Phases, and Checklist (3)

(Video) A Starters Guide to Pentesting with OWASP

Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.

(Video) OWASP Top 10 2021 - The List and How You Should Use It

FAQs

What are the main steps of web application security testing? ›

Web application penetration testing is comprised of four main steps including information gathering, research and exploitation, reporting and recommendations, and remediation with ongoing support. These tests are performed primarily to maintain secure software code development throughout its lifecycle.

What is Web security testing and its types? ›

Web application security testing is the process of testing, analyzing and reporting on the security level and/or posture of a Web application. It is used by Web developers and security administrators to test and gauge the security strength of a Web application using manual and automated security testing techniques.

What are the three phases of application security testing? ›

Application Security: A Three-Phase Action Plan
  • Phase I: GRASP. ...
  • Phase II: ASSESS. ...
  • Phase III: ADAPT.
24 Sept 2018

What are the phases of security testing? ›

There are five penetration testing phases: reconnaissance, scanning, vulnerability assessment, exploitation, and reporting.

What are the top 5 five concerns on web application testing? ›

Below are five web application testing challenges faced by web developers during the development process.
  • Integration. Integration testing exposes problems with interfaces among different program components before deployment. ...
  • Interoperability. ...
  • Security. ...
  • Performance. ...
  • Usability. ...
  • Quality Testing, Exceptional Services.

What is Web security types? ›

Cybersecurity can be categorized into five distinct types: Critical infrastructure security. Application security. Network security. Cloud security.

What are the 4 types of online security? ›

Types of Network Security Protections
  • Firewall. Firewalls control incoming and outgoing traffic on networks, with predetermined security rules. ...
  • Network Segmentation. ...
  • Remote Access VPN. ...
  • Email Security. ...
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) ...
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) ...
  • Sandboxing. ...
  • Hyperscale Network Security.

What are the four types of testing? ›

There are four main stages of testing that need to be completed before a program can be cleared for use: unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and acceptance testing.

What are the 4 layers of security? ›

The four basic layers of physical security are design, control, detection, and identification. For each of these layers, there are different options that can be utilized for security. Physical security design refers to any structure that can be built or installed to deter, impede, or stop an attack from occurring.

What are 3 types of testing and 3 types of testing environments? ›

What Are the Different Types of Testing Environments?
  • Performance Testing Environment. ...
  • System Integration Testing (SIT) ...
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) ...
  • Quality Assurance (QA) ...
  • Security Testing. ...
  • Chaos Testing. ...
  • Alpha Testing. ...
  • Beta Testing.
7 Aug 2022

What are the 3 layers of security? ›

The layered security approach typically involves three main types of security controls.
  • Administrative controls. ...
  • Physical controls. ...
  • Technical controls.

What are the 7 layers of security? ›

7 Layers of Security
  • Information Security Policies. These policies are the foundation of the security and well-being of our resources. ...
  • Physical Security. ...
  • Secure Networks and Systems. ...
  • Vulnerability Programs. ...
  • Strong Access Control Measures. ...
  • Protect and Backup Data. ...
  • Monitor and Test Your Systems.

What are the five phases of testing? ›

What are the 5 phases of testing software?
  • Static testing. During static testing, developers work to avoid potential problems that might arise later. ...
  • Unit testing. The next phase of software testing is unit testing. ...
  • Integration testing. ...
  • System testing. ...
  • Acceptance testing.

What is application security checklist? ›

The Application Security Checklist is one of OWASP's repositories that offers guidance to assess, identify, and remediate web security issues. This article delves into various vulnerabilities of web applications and outlines OWASP's guidance on testing to mitigate such vulnerabilities.

What are the 4 phases of assessing security controls? ›

The process for conducting a security assessment is a relatively straightforward four-step process: prepare for the assessment, develop an assessment plan, conduct the assessment, and analyze the findings.

What are the six basic principles of security testing? ›

Principle of Security Testing : Confidentiality, Integrity, Authentication, Availability, Authorization, and Non-Repudiation.

What are the 2 threats to web applications? ›

The top web application security risks

In 2021, this list included: Broken Access Control – Present in nearly one in 25 applications OWASP tested. Cryptographic Failures – A root cause of sensitive data exposure. Injection – Attackers inject malicious code into SQL queries or commands.

Which are the types of Web testing security problems? ›

Here are the different types of threats which can be used to take advantage of security vulnerability.
  • Privilege Elevation. ...
  • SQL Injection. ...
  • Unauthorized Data Access. ...
  • URL Manipulation. ...
  • Denial of Service. ...
  • Data Manipulation. ...
  • Identity Spoofing. ...
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
31 Oct 2014

What are the security issues of web applications? ›

Common web app vulnerabilities
  • Injection. ...
  • Broken Authentication. ...
  • Sensitive Data Exposure. ...
  • XML External Entities (XXE). ...
  • Broken Access Control. ...
  • Security Misconfigurations. ...
  • Cross Site Scripting (XSS). ...
  • Insecure Deserialization.

What are the 6 types of security? ›

What are the 6 types of security infrastructure systems?
  • Access Controls. The act of restricting access to sensitive data or systems enables your enterprise to mitigate the potential risks associated with data exposure. ...
  • Application Security. ...
  • Behavioral Analytics. ...
  • Firewalls. ...
  • Virtual Private Networks. ...
  • Wireless Security.
22 Feb 2022

What are the 5 layers of security? ›

The 5 Layers Of Cyber Security
  • Firewalls.
  • Secure Configuration.
  • User Access Control.
  • Malware Protection.
  • Patch Management.
29 Jun 2019

What are the 3 types of web? ›

Web designing is of three kinds, to be specific static, dynamic or CMS and eCommerce.
...
Every one of these sites and be designed and developed on various platforms.
  • Static website design- ...
  • CMS or dynamic website- ...
  • eCommerce website-
26 Apr 2020

What are the 4 main types of security vulnerability? ›

Security Vulnerability Types
  • Network Vulnerabilities. These are issues with a network's hardware or software that expose it to possible intrusion by an outside party. ...
  • Operating System Vulnerabilities. ...
  • Human Vulnerabilities. ...
  • Process Vulnerabilities.

What are the 5 best methods used for cyber security? ›

10 steps to an effective approach to cyber security
  • Risk management regime. ...
  • Secure configuration. ...
  • Network security. ...
  • Managing user privileges. ...
  • User education and awareness. ...
  • Incident management. ...
  • Malware prevention. ...
  • Monitoring.

What are the 7 types of software testing? ›

The different types of tests
  • Unit tests. Unit tests are very low level and close to the source of an application. ...
  • Integration tests. ...
  • Functional tests. ...
  • End-to-end tests. ...
  • Acceptance testing. ...
  • Performance testing. ...
  • Smoke testing.

What are the 7 principle of testing? ›

The seven principles of testing
  • Testing shows the presence of defects, not their absence. ...
  • Exhaustive testing is impossible. ...
  • Early testing saves time and money. ...
  • Defects cluster together. ...
  • Beware of the pesticide paradox. ...
  • Testing is context dependent. ...
  • Absence-of-errors is a fallacy.

What are testing methods? ›

The main software testing methodologies are the Agile model, the Waterfall model, V-Model, the Incremental model, and XЗ. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The main types of software testing from the perspective of testing objectives are functional testing and non-functional testing.

What are the six phases in the security process? ›

Many organisations use NIST's Computer Security Incident Handling Guide as the basis of their incident response plan. It contains six phases: preparation, identification, containment, eradication, recovery and lessons learned.

What are 3 testing strategies? ›

The test strategy describes the test level to be performed. There are primarily three levels of testing: unit testing, integration testing, and system testing. In most software development organizations, the developers are responsible for unit testing.

What are the two main types of testing? ›

Though there are different testing types in practice but, the two major categories are Functional and Non-functional types of testing.

What are the three categories of testing? ›

Let's get into them.
  • Unit Testing. The first type of testing is called a unit test. ...
  • Integration Testing. After you've tested out all of your functions, the next step is to put the functions together and test to make sure that they work. ...
  • Automation/Acceptance Testing.
30 Apr 2020

What are the 3 basic security requirements? ›

Regardless of security policy goals, one cannot completely ignore any of the three major requirements—confidentiality, integrity, and availability—which support one another. For example, confidentiality is needed to protect passwords.

What are the 8 components of security plan? ›

Here are eight critical elements of an information security policy:
  • Purpose. ...
  • Audience and scope. ...
  • Information security objectives. ...
  • Authority and access control policy. ...
  • Data classification. ...
  • Data support and operations. ...
  • Security awareness and behavior. ...
  • Responsibilities, rights, and duties of personnel.
19 Apr 2021

What are the 7 steps of software testing? ›

Let's dig into these sequential phases of the software testing life cycle:
  • Requirement analysis.
  • Test planning.
  • Test case design and development.
  • Test environment setup.
  • Test execution.
  • Test cycle closure.
31 Aug 2021

What are the 7 phases of SDLC? ›

The 7 Stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
  • Requirements & Analysis.
  • Project Planning.
  • Design.
  • Coding & Implementation.
  • Testing.
  • Deployment.
  • Maintenance.
25 Aug 2021

What are the 5 phases of SDLC? ›

The SDLC process includes planning, designing, developing, testing and deploying with ongoing maintenance to create and manage applications efficiently.
...
  • Planning and analysis. This phase is the most fundamental in the SDLC process. ...
  • Designing the product architecture. ...
  • Developing and coding. ...
  • Testing. ...
  • Maintenance.

How many phases of testing are there? ›

6 key phases of software testing lifecycle. Many QA professionals follow well-established software testing lifecycle phases to ensure an application performs as expected.

How many testing types are there? ›

17 Different Types of Testing in Software | Types of Automated Application Testing.

What is testing in SDLC? ›

Testing Phase of SDLC

The testing phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) is where you focus on investigation and discovery. During the testing phase, developers find out whether their code and programming work according to customer requirements.

What are the 4 key web service security requirements? ›

The basic web application requirements are:
  • Secure the web environment (prevent web server bugs)
  • Validate user input (prevent XSS and injection attacks)
  • Avoid third-party scripts and CSS.
  • Use encryption (protect data, prevent mixed content bugs)
  • Use the right authentication.
  • Authorize requests (prevent XSRF, XSSI etc)

What are the five steps used to create an application security management process? ›

Topics
  • Creating an inventory of application assets and assessing their business impact.
  • Testing applications for vulnerabilities.
  • Determining risks and prioritizing vulnerabilities.
  • Remediating risks.
  • Measuring progress and demonstrating compliance.

What are the main steps of the software testing process? ›

Let's dig into these sequential phases of the software testing life cycle:
  • Requirement analysis.
  • Test planning.
  • Test case design and development.
  • Test environment setup.
  • Test execution.
  • Test cycle closure.
31 Aug 2021

What are the 5 phases of the security life cycle? ›

Like any other IT process, security can follow a lifecycle model. The model presented here follows the basic steps of IDENTIFY – ASSESS – PROTECT – MONITOR. This lifecycle provides a good foundation for any security program.

What are the 7 testing principles? ›

The seven principles of testing
  • Testing shows the presence of defects, not their absence. ...
  • Exhaustive testing is impossible. ...
  • Early testing saves time and money. ...
  • Defects cluster together. ...
  • Beware of the pesticide paradox. ...
  • Testing is context dependent. ...
  • Absence-of-errors is a fallacy.

What are the 5 testing methods? ›

There are many different types of testing, but for this article we will stick to the core five components of testing:
  • 1) Unit Tests. ...
  • 2) Integration/System Tests. ...
  • 3) Functional Tests. ...
  • 4) Regression Tests. ...
  • 5) Acceptance Tests.
6 Jun 2017

Videos

1. Web Application Security Assessment. Penetration Testing, And the Review & Reporting Process
(Lawrence Systems)
2. How to Perform Security Testing of APIs (with Checklist) | 30 Days of API Testing | Day 25
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3. How to do application security testing with Burp Suite | Hands-on tutorial VAPT by Manpreet Kheberi
(CyberFrat)
4. Application Security Checklist - App Security - Application Security Audit Checklist | What, How why
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5. Learn Application Security in 5 Minutes | EC-Council | CASE
(EC Council)
6. Conduct a Penetration Test Like a Pro in 6 Phases [Tutorial]
(Null Byte)
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