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Guide to Web Application Testing: What is This Web Application Penetration Testing Stuff

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Web applications are critical to the success of businesses, and hackers regard them as appealing targets. Web application penetration testing programs seek for vulnerabilities in applications that might lead to the theft of sensitive information on a proactive basis.

The goal of web application penetration testing is to use penetration testing techniques to find vulnerabilities in web applications. It is similar to a penetration test in that it uses penetration assaults to gain access to the online application.

Penetration tests are performed to assess whether a web application is susceptible, safe, or whether it contains a security defect or hazard. The tests employ any known malicious application penetration attack. Penetration testers utilize SQL injection tests to simulate assaults and environments from the perspective of an attacker. The detection of security flaws throughout the whole program and all of its components is an essential conclusion of a web application penetration test (source code, database, back-end network). It may be used to prioritize potential mitigation methods in addition to identifying vulnerabilities and threats.

The scope of a web app penetration test is narrower than that of vulnerability scans. Pentesting a web app is having an experienced tester use various tools to imitate the planned or inadvertent behaviors of a cyber attack that might compromise the app. They hunt for the most susceptible entry points to obtain access to an application's internal workings.

An OWASP Top 10 2021 ranking and beyond Web Application Penetration Test covers the following vulnerability classes:

  1. Broken Access Control

  2. Cryptographic Failures

  3. Injection

  4. Insecure Design

  5. Security Misconfiguration

  6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components

  7. Identification and Authentication Failures

  8. Software and Data Integrity Failures

  9. Security Logging and Monitoring Failures

  10. Server-Side Request Forgery

The vulnerabilities listed below are among the top OWASP security concerns to online applications.

  • SQL Injection

Attackers can compromise an application's backend by modifying SQL statements. These SQL injection attacks force the program to execute commands that result in the unauthorized exposure of information to the user.

  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

These dangerous scripts are performed by browser programs that run scripts. Hackers use them to deface websites, hijack cookie sessions, or divert unwary visitors to sites containing sensitive information.

  • Broken Authentication

Websites normally invalidate cookies when users log out or close their browser. If the cookies stay active after expiration and the session is left open, hackers can steal important information.

  • Security Misconfiguration

Web developers who fail to correctly set up a web application's security and associated components make the web app open to hackers who can access specified regions via APIs and input fields.

  • Insecure Deserialization

When a website deserializes data under the control of a user, the source code of the website can be changed by attackers who pass in dangerous information.

  • XML External Entities Injection (XXE)

Attackers change how web applications handle XML data. They may then access the web application's back-end systems and read files on the server.

  • Inadequate Access Controls

When personnel is barred from accessing resources or executing activities outside of their allocated positions, a business is vulnerable to an inside assault.

  • Vulnerable Components

In certain circumstances, website developers utilize outmoded, vulnerable, or outdated components, which allows hackers to steal important information or take over company systems.

  • Broken Access Controls

When personnel is barred from accessing resources or executing activities outside of their allocated positions, a business is vulnerable to an inside assault.

Each of these penetration tests has advantages and downsides, but they all have the same purpose in mind. There are three types of web penetration tests: black box, white box, and grey box. Depending on the demands of the customer and the security expert, many forms of online penetration tests can be used for penetration testing. White box tests are extensive and may be used to do penetration testing on the client's complete system. In contrast, black box tests simulate an external adversary's assault and give information into how an organization's vulnerabilities and weaknesses are assessed and exploited.

Black Box

Penetration testers doing black box online penetration tests are unfamiliar with the target. A penetration test involves gathering and authenticating information about the target, assessing systems and applications, identifying vulnerabilities, and attempting to attack them.

White Box

Penetration testers do white box tests when they already have knowledge of the system, organization, and vulnerability being tested. White box tests are far more prevalent among penetration testers than black-box tests, which target particular vulnerabilities to identify the hazards they pose. White box tests do not involve considerable reconnaissance since the tester already knows facts about the test subject.

Grey Box

Grey box testing is a hybrid of white-box and black-box testing. In a grey box test, the penetration tester will normally know something about the target, but not to the extent that a white box test would. The client may supply information that a potential attacker may find beneficial as a starting point for testing.

Despite the ease and value that web apps provide, these benefits come at a cost. Anyone who is willing to do some investigation may access the data in online applications. As technologies become more widespread and evolve, web applications become more vulnerable to flaws, both in design and setup, which hackers can exploit. Web applications should be prioritized for penetration testing, especially if they handle sensitive information.

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