Web Application Security Testing: Methodology, Tests and Tools

Angular June 6, 2022

Software bugs and glitches are common. Around 80% of software attacks make use of application layer flaws. With the rise of software vulnerabilities, organizations must implement a robust web application security testing methodology to identify and prevent potential attacks. Various types of application security testing, such as penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, can be used to uncover potential weaknesses. Additionally, utilizing web application security tools, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems, can enhance the overall security of an organization’s web applications.”

This blog will help you navigate the sea of options by classifying the many types of AST tools available and giving advice on when and how to use each type of AST tool.

What is Application Security Testing?

Application security testing (AST) is a process that includes a group of tools and methods that help developers in managing and repair all flaws in their codebase. Because of the complexity of today’s apps, developers require a wide range of vulnerability detection technologies that employ various testing approaches. Some of these tools analyze the source for common issues, while others perform dynamic testing on existing installations.

Open-source components accelerate the development cycle, but they might also result in unprotected code if the security department does not check all code snippets. Various forms of application security testing are performed throughout the protected development cycle to assist teams in maintaining a secure codebase.

What is application security software?

It’s software or a program that protects computer applications from any external security risks. The process of app security utilizes the security software, along with hardware, methodologies, best practices, and other processes.

Security was traditionally considered an afterthought in Custom software development. Now, it is becoming an increasingly important problem for all aspects of application development – from design to deployment and far beyond. The number of programs produced, deployed, utilized, and patched across networks continually increases. As a result, application security methods must deal with a wider range of risks. Hence, the importance of application security testing software.

Why is application security testing important?

Application security testing is crucial for various reasons, including the management and monitoring app vulnerabilities.

  • Finding and mending vulnerabilities lowers security risks and hence contributes to reducing an organization’s total attack surface.
  • Software flaws are all too prevalent. While not every one of them is significant, even minor flaws can be aggregated and used in attack chains. Lowering the number of security flaws and vulnerabilities helps in decreasing the total effect of assaults.
  • Proactive application security testing measures outperform reactive security techniques. Proactive defence allows defenders to detect and neutralize threats sooner, often before any harm is done.
  • As businesses migrate their data, code, as well as processes to the cloud, cyberattacks on those assets may become more common. Such attacks can be mitigated by dynamic application security testing measures.

What are the three phases of application security testing?

  • Grasp – Security is about integrity, not activity. The GRASP phase of the application security testing action plan’s objective is to specify exactly where you’re headed, why that path is necessary, and how you’ll go about pursuing it. You need to define your objective, recognize the business context, and use the threat model.
  • Access –This necessitates an organization actually comprehending the realities of how its system may be targeted, identifying exploitable weaknesses, and determining how to correct those defects.
  • Adapt – This phase necessitates an organization’s adaptation in response to changes in the threat models. Organizations must continually educate, learn, and evolve in order to be effective in their application security testing implementation.

What are the different types of security testing?

  • Static application security testing (SAST): 

Analyzes the app’s source code (at rest) for potential vulnerabilities, delivering a real-time overview of the program’s security.

  • Dynamic application security testing (DAST): 

Authenticates security while the program is operating by evaluating several types of malware attacks against it. DAST does not demand access to the source code of the application.

  • Application penetration testing : 

Security specialists test the app against the most recent cyber attacks to identify vulnerabilities that may develop as a consequence of a user’s behaviour or action.

  • Interactive application security testing (IAST) :

Looks for identified vulnerabilities within the app’s functionality by recreating various situations in which a visitor runs or engages with the app.

  • Mobile application security testing (MAST) : 

This sort of AST combines existing types of AST with mobile-specific threat routes.

  • Software composition analysis (SCA)  : 

Examines the libraries in the app to determine where they came from. Foremost open-source software solution libraries continually have public bug lists, making this strategy extremely useful.

  • Database security scanning : 

Examines the database for best practices, like strong passwords or the presence of the most recent security updates.

What is dynamic application security testing?

Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is the method of examining a web application Development front-end to identify vulnerabilities using simulated cyberattacks. This method assesses an application from the “outside and in” by targeting it as if it were a malicious user.

After performing these attacks, a Dynamic Application Security Testing security scanner checks for outcomes that are not included in the expected outcome set and find security weaknesses.

How does dynamic application security testing work?

A Dynamic Application Security Testing scanner evaluates a running application for vulnerabilities and then delivers automatic alerts if it detects weaknesses that allow for threats such as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), SQL injections, and others. Because DAST tools are designed to work in a dynamic context, they can uncover runtime issues that SAST tools cannot.

Take an example of a building, a Dynamic Application Security Testing scanner might well be compared to a security guard. However, rather than just ensuring that the windows and doors are closed, this guard goes a little bit further and attempts to physically enter the premises. The guard attempts to pick locks or smash windows. After completing this assessment, the guard might report back to the management and explain how it was able to breach the premises. A DAST scanner works in the same manner – it actively seeks for vulnerabilities in a running system so that the DevOps team understands where and how to patch them.

Top tools for dynamic application security testing

Best tools for dynamic application security testing – 

  • Netsparker
  • Acunetix
  • Indusface WAS
  • Astra Pentest
  • PortSwigger
  • Detectify
  • AppScan
  • AppCheck Ltd
  • Hdiv Security
  • Rapid7
  • Checkmarx
  • MisterScanner

Difference between dynamic application security testing and SAST?

Static application security testing (SAST) is a sort of white-box testing. White-box testing in software engineering assesses a variety of static inputs, including documentation (demands, design, and specs) and app source code, to test for a variety of known issues. A SAST tool searches the source code & related dependencies as a type of automated static testing (frameworks & libraries). During scanning, the tool employs a predetermined set of criteria to find and highlight flaws and vulnerabilities. SAST tools integrate easily into a CI/CD process. This implies that the scanning process may begin as soon as a member of the team contributes code to a source code repository like GIT.

Meanwhile, Dynamic application security testing (DAST) takes the opposite methodology to SAST.

SAST tools focus on white-box testing, whereas DAST takes a black-box approach, assuming testers have no awareness of the inner functioning of the program being tested and must depend on the accessible outputs and inputs. Black-box testing must be dynamic. This is because, while an app runs, the number of inputs as well as outputs rises and declines, and the data that they consume or produce changes continually. As a result, DAST tools need a functioning version of an application ready for testing.

Pros and cons of dynamic application security testing

Pros of DAST (Dynamic application security testing)

  • Independent of the app.
  • Finds flaws that can be exploited right away.
  • It does not require access to the source code.

Cons of DAST (Dynamic application security testing)

  • Does not pinpoint the precise location of a code vulnerability.
  • Analyse reports, it demands security expertise.
  • Testing can take a long time.

What is a security testing tool?

Security testing tools are intended to safeguard software programs against external attacks all through the app lifecycle. Enterprise apps may include vulnerabilities that malicious parties can exploit. The goal of this class of products is to safeguard various types of applications from data theft or any other malicious activity. Internal workers, partners, as well as customers, use legacy, cloud, desktop, and mobile application Development. Modern application security solutions must support a wide range of application types while also being simple to use and install.

This category’s products are defined by their emphasis on safeguarding systems at the app layer rather than defending attack surfaces such as networks. Aside from that, app security testing (AST) encompasses a broad range of procedures. The two most common functions are mobile application security testing for vulnerabilities and resolving threats after they have been detected. Some goods provide both duties, while many specialize in one or the other. Application security may be improved further by developing a security profile for every app that detects and prioritizes probable threats and documents steps taken to combat malicious or unexpected occurrences.

Because application security testing is such a broad topic, a number of specialized categories have evolved. The following are the most often used types of application security tools:

  • Vulnerability management, may be utilized both during development and on live applications.
  • AST tools are used throughout app development, like DAST, Static testing, or Interactive testing.
  • Penetration testing is most commonly done on live apps as part of a comprehensive security review.

What are the top recommended security testing tools?

Top Open Source web application Security Testing Tools – 

  • Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)
  • Wfuzz
  • Wapiti
  • W3af
  • SQLMap
  • SonarQube
  • Nogotofail
  • Iron Wasp
  • Grabber
  • Arachni

How many types of system testing are there?

There are about 40+ different forms of system testing. The forms of system testing that a major software development company may normally utilize are given below.

  • Usability testing It focuses on the user’s convenience of using the program, flexibility in managing controls, and the system’s capacity to accomplish its objectives.
  • Load testing : It is required to ensure that software will work under real-world conditions.
  • Regression testing This entails testing to ensure that no modifications made throughout the development phase have resulted in new issues. It also ensures that no existing issues emerge as a result of the inclusion of new software modules throughout.
  • Recovery testing This application security testing is performed to verify that the solution is dependable, trustworthy, and capable of recovering from potential crashes.
  • Migration testing It is performed to guarantee that software can be migrated without trouble from previous system infrastructures to present system infrastructures.
  • Functional testing Also referred to as functional completeness testing, is attempting to identify any potential missing functionalities. During functional testing, testers may generate a list of extra features that a product may have to optimize it.
  • Hardware/Software Testing This testing is referred to as “HW/SW Testing.”  During system testing, the tester centres its focus on the interplay between the software and hardware.

What is security testing methodology?

The application security testing methodology involves the following 4 phases 

1 . Initiation

  • Identify the scope of an app’s testing.
  • Initial testing needs should be documented.
  • Create a testing and scanning schedule.
  • Recognize the capabilities that have been implemented in the app.
  • Perform browser-server traffic flow sampling.
  • Complete the format of the testing deliverables.

2 . Evaluation

  • Analyze static code in an application.
  • DevOps and server infrastructure testing.
  • Determine the gaps within business logic.
  • Perform user access authorization checks (UAC).
  • Using tools, schedule manual, and automatic application scanning.
  • List both commercials as well as open-source security testing tools.

3 . Discovery

  • Employ dynamic analysis and penetration testing.
  • Testing for payment manipulation.
  • Examine for existing CVEs.
  • Attack vectors & payloads tailored to certain technologies.
  • Verify results and eliminate false positives.
  • Make a list of all the vulnerabilities that have been discovered.
  • Evidence gathering and video POCs.

4 . Reporting

  • Determine the ease with which a vulnerability may be exploited.
  • Detail app vulnerabilities should be documented.
  • Investigate and document technological solutions or restoration suggestions.
  • Conduct an independent quality check.
  • Purchase a VAPT Certificate from a reputable provider for security auditing.



What methodologies do you use for security testing your products?

aTeam does comprehensive application security testing, including automatic as well as manual Pentesting, Vulnerability Analysis, along with Business Logic Testing, to identify any vulnerabilities and security loopholes on your application or website.

With its carefully-designed tests that combine the power of automation plus human intelligence, our solution has you covered.

We can assist you in detecting security flaws in your network, which includes Azure, AWS, and any other cloud, and app (Web & mobile) IoT, with extensive security tests that include — security control check, dynamic and static code assessment, configuration testing, Server Infrastructure Testing and DevOps, Business logic testing, and many more.

What are the things that we need to consider in security testing for web applications?

  • SQL injection
  • Improper authentication & session management
  • Cross-site scripting
  • Insecure direct object reference
  • Improper security configuration
  • Sensitive data exposure
  • Missing function level access control
  • Cross-site request forgery
  • Using components with unknown vulnerabilities
  • Unvalidated HTTP redirects and forwards

What is security testing?

Security testing is a subset of software testing that focuses on finding risks, hazards, and vulnerabilities in applications. The goal of this application security testing is to keep hackers from entering programs and launching destructive cyberattacks.

To do this, testers must identify any potential flaws and vulnerabilities in the program that might result in a loss of credibility, data, and revenues. They should detect not only outside threats but also the risk of hostile components gaining access to the programs.

All efforts are directed toward ensuring that the app’s core functionalities work smoothly in a production setting. As a result, testers evaluate numerous security factors such as the web application’s confidentiality, authenticity, continuity, weakness, and integrity.

Security testing analyses all of the threats that a web application encounters by testing on several layers such as database, infrastructure, network, and access points such as mobile. When these vulnerabilities are discovered, developers and security professionals may fix the gaps to make the programs secure.

What certification is most recognized for web application security?

GIAC Certified Web Application Defender

The GIAC Web Application Defender certification enables applicants to showcase proficiency in the application security testing knowledge and abilities required to cope with typical web application failures that cause the majority of security issues.

Other recommendations would include – 

  • SANS GWEB: Web Application Defender certification
  • SANS GWAP: Web Application Penetration testing certification

What are some common things to test during security testing?

  • Vulnerability Scanning a process that uses automated software to search a system for existing vulnerability behaviours.
  • Security Scanning a process of identifying network & system flaws. Later, it offers methods for decreasing these flaws or threats. Security scanning may be done both manually and automatically.
  • Penetration : application security testing is the simulation of a hostile hacker’s intrusion. It entails examining a specific system for possible risks from a malevolent hacker who seeks to attack the system.
  • Risk assessment : Security concerns detected in the company are examined during risk assessment testing. The risks are divided into three groups: low, medium, & high. This testing supports risk-mitigation controls and strategies.
  • Security auditing : It is the examination of operating systems and apps for internal security flaws. Auditing can also be performed by inspecting the code line by line.
  • Ethical hacking : Malicious hacking is not the same as ethical hacking. The goal of ethical hacking is to identify security holes in an organization’s systems.
  • Posture Assessment : It integrates security scanning, ethical hacking, as well as risk assessments to present an organization’s entire security position.

How is security testing performed?

The procedure might vary substantially depending on the sort of web application security testing required. SAST is designed to target the code base and, since such, works best when incorporated together into CI/CD pipeline. DAST is designed to target operating systems; while it is automated, operating deployment that replicates the production environment must be supplied. IAST varies from DAST in that it operates within the system being tested. As a result, it must be incorporated into the code base before the deployment.

Teams must verify that new weaknesses, SQL injection, spoofing, URL manipulation, malicious code, as well as cross-site Scripting are tested for (XSS). To avoid URL manipulation using HTTP GET techniques, testers must be familiar with HTTP protocols. It is not secure if the program sends any sensitive information with the string.

To avoid XSS, testers must ensure that any external HTML & script queries are rejected by the application. Security best practices require testers to set up the operating system on the server hosting the app. It is also critical to safeguard any other services that are running on the server since every entry point represents a possible attack vector. Private consumer data must also be safeguarded in accordance with data protection rules.

Every component of application security testing must be reviewed by developers before each contribution. Using the correct technologies, teams may automate the majority of the testing during the software development process. Failure to protect your apps prior to launch risks a compromise with catastrophic repercussions, like the server crashing or leaking user data.

What are testing checklists in software testing?

The following security testing methodologies may be used to provide a thorough view of your company’s security positioning:

  • Activities taking place during the recon stage.
  • The initial set of vulnerabilities is discovered.
  • Check for flaws in encryption.
  • The exploitation begins right here.

The application security testing must cover all aspects of the software’s functionality. There should be no requirements that go unmet. The amount of testing must be kept to a minimum. The more criteria you can validate with a single test, the better. A set of tests should not replicate the requirements, but rather validate them.

  • Determine what needs to be tested.
  • Tools that are best suited for the task.
  • Vulnerability scanning.
  • Scanner validation & additional manual checks.
  • Document your findings & communicate them to the right people.

How to manually test mobile security testing?

You can perform manual mobile application security testing by – 

  • Emulators & simulators : These allow you to choose a mobile device model and then run it on the desktop screen. They simulate the device and provide you with an overview of how the application will function once it is launched on actual devices.
  • Real device cloud : Using an actual device cloud, you can do manual mobile application security testing and find errors related to battery use, connection, and so on.

What are some ways that security can be incorporated into applications?

Incorporating security into the development lifecycle is a procedure of collaboration within policies, risks, and development needs, rather than an exclusive decision. Engaging in-house or outsourced security teams at the defining stage of app development establishes the security areas. Here’s how you can incorporate security into apps – 

  • In User Requirements, provide Measurable Security Acceptance Criteria.
  • Perform thorough security testing.
  • Implement Secure Coding Techniques.
  • Utilize “Agile Retrospectives.”
  • Make use of Application Security Testing Tools.
  • Integrate security into your CI/CD pipeline.

What are the security requirements for any application to application communication?

Here are the application security testing requirements for any application-to-application communication

  • Authentication : It is the process of establishing the identity, with the most common kinds of host-to-host authentication on the web currently, being name-based or address-based, both of which are infamously inadequate.
  • Privacy/confidentiality : It ensures that the communication is only viewed by the intended recipient.
  • Integrity : B This is to assure the receiver that the message received has not been altered.

Non-repudiation: It’s a system for proving the sender’s activity in transmitting the communication


FAQs about Web Application Security Assessment and Testing:

Q1: What is a web application security assessment?

A1: A web application security assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of a web application’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It involves analyzing the application’s code, configurations, and infrastructure to identify potential security risks.

Q2: How is web application security testing different from a security assessment?

A2: Web application security testing is a subset of a security assessment. While a security assessment involves a broader evaluation, security testing specifically focuses on actively identifying and fixing vulnerabilities through techniques like penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.

Q3: Why is application vulnerability testing important for web security?

A3: Application vulnerability testing is crucial for identifying and addressing potential weaknesses in a web application. By proactively identifying vulnerabilities, organizations can enhance their security posture and protect sensitive data from cyber threats.

Q4: What are the key aspects of web app security testing?

A4: Web app security testing encompasses various techniques, including penetration testing, security scanning, code review, and configuration analysis. These methods collectively assess the application’s resilience against potential security threats.

Q5: How frequently should web application security testing be conducted?

A5: Regular web application security testing is essential to adapt to evolving threats. The frequency depends on factors like the application’s complexity, update frequency, and the sensitivity of the data it handles. Conducting tests after major updates or changes is a good practice.

Q6: What are some commonly used web application security testing tools?

A6: There are several web application security testing tools available, such as OWASP ZAP, Burp Suite, Acunetix, and Nessus. These tools aid in automated vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and overall security assessment of web applications.

Q7: How does web application security testing contribute to compliance requirements?

A7: Web application security testing helps organizations meet compliance requirements by ensuring that their applications adhere to industry standards and regulations. It helps in identifying and rectifying security flaws that might lead to compliance violations.

Q8: Can web application security testing be integrated into the development lifecycle?

A8: Yes, integrating security testing into the development lifecycle, known as DevSecOps, is a best practice. It allows for early identification and remediation of security vulnerabilities, reducing the risk of security incidents during the production phase.

Q9: What steps can organizations take to improve web application security?

A9: To enhance web application security, organizations should conduct regular security assessments, implement secure coding practices, educate developers and users about security best practices, and stay informed about the latest security threats and trends.

Q10: How does web application security testing contribute to a robust cybersecurity strategy?

A10: Web application security testing is a critical component of a robust cybersecurity strategy. It helps organizations proactively identify and address vulnerabilities, minimizing the risk of security breaches and protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access or manipulation.

Bijin Azeez July 13, 2018