1. Science / Technology

The Importance of Web Application Security Testing

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Web application security testing is a vital step in the software development process. Without it, applications can be vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches.

One way to test for vulnerabilities is by using dynamic application security testing (DAST). This works from the outside-in on a running app, similar to a team of experts trying to break into your bank vault.

Cross-site scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are vulnerabilities that allow malicious JavaScript to be inserted into otherwise benign and trusted web applications. This allows hackers to gain access to a user's cookies, credentials, data, and even their account.

While this type of attack is a common security threat, it can be difficult to detect and remediate. For this reason, it's important that web application developers and security professionals work together to continuously scan their applications and sites for XSS vulnerabilities.

XSS can be broken into two main categories: Reflected and Stored.

The former occurs when a web application passes input from an untrusted source to the browser without validating or sanitizing it first. It's particularly risky if the input isn't encrypted or doesn't contain HTML escape sequences, such as JavaScript.

The latter, stored XSS, happens when a malicious payload is permanently stored on the web application, such as in a database, message board, comment field, or other area where users frequently interact. It's the most damaging form of XSS because it can be used to steal sensitive information or even take control of an affected application and its users.

SQL injection

SQL injection is a type of vulnerability that allows an attacker to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information in an application. It can allow a malicious actor to steal passwords, credit card details and personal information from a website.

In most cases, SQL injection vulnerabilities can be prevented through proper application development practices. Developers should ensure that inputs from users are properly sanitized before allowing them into the application.

Security analysts should also educate developers and administrators on the potential risks associated with SQL injection. For example, administrators should limit database login permissions to only what is needed.

There are three main types of SQL injection: In-band, error-based and union-based. All can damage an organization's data. Error-based SQL injection uses error messages from a database to gather information about the structure of the database.

Password cracking

Password cracking is an attack vector used by hackers to gain access to password-protected credentials and data. It can be done through a variety of techniques and tools, including phishing, spear phishing and memory-scraping malware.

One of the most effective ways to protect your account is by creating a strong, complex password. This will prevent a hacker from using the same password for other accounts or to gain access to your private data.

A common way to create a strong password is by using combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. The longer the password, the harder it is to be cracked.

An attacker can then use a brute force attack, which involves trying different combinations of characters until the password is guessed. This process can take time, depending on the length and complexity of the password.

Adding an extra layer of security, such as the use of a salt, can also make the process more difficult. A salt is a random string that is added to a password as it is being hashed, making the password more difficult for an attacker to crack.

Data encryption

Encryption is one of the fundamentals of data security. It translates data into another form, or code, so that only people with a secret key (formally called a decryption key) can read it.

It protects information during storage or when it is transmitted between applications within a web application. This includes billing information, ‘passwords' related to user accounts and other sensitive and business-critical data.

When testing web applications, testers need to identify whether data is encrypted during storage. They also need to verify that data is properly encrypted during transfer between applications.

Testers need to ensure that all data is protected during transport, including when it is transferred from the browser to the server. They need to check that the encryption key is not easily accessed by unauthorized users.

In addition, a strong encryption strategy must be used, and it should be based on the principle of least privilege access. This means that a low-privilege user should be given as little control as possible over the application and its resources.


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