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


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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.

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

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

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What are the 7 layers of security? ›

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  • 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.

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What are the 2 threats to web applications? ›

The top web application security risks

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  • Data Manipulation. ...
  • Identity Spoofing. ...
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Common web app vulnerabilities
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  • Cross Site Scripting (XSS). ...
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What are the 6 types of security infrastructure systems?
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What are the 5 layers of security? ›

The 5 Layers Of Cyber Security
  • Firewalls.
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  • User Access Control.
  • Malware Protection.
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The different types of tests
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  • Exhaustive testing is impossible. ...
  • Early testing saves time and money. ...
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  • Developing and coding. ...
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6 key phases of software testing lifecycle. Many QA professionals follow well-established software testing lifecycle phases to ensure an application performs as expected.

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The basic web application requirements are:
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  • Creating an inventory of application assets and assessing their business impact.
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What are the main steps of the software testing process? ›

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  • Test planning.
  • Test case design and development.
  • Test environment setup.
  • Test execution.
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31 Aug 2021

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The seven principles of testing
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  • 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:
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3. How to do application security testing with Burp Suite | Hands-on tutorial VAPT by Manpreet Kheberi
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
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6. Conduct a Penetration Test Like a Pro in 6 Phases [Tutorial]
(Null Byte)
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