The majority of businesses heavily rely on web applications as they are a cost-effective and efficient way to interact with customers and conduct transactions.
The downside of this convenience, however, is the fact that web applications can be vulnerable to security breaches just like any other application. So it is vital to take the time to learn about security and how to protect your web application.
In this article, we will discuss what web security testing is, some common types of security issues found in web applications, and how you can get started by using open-source tools without having to break the bank.
What is Web Security Testing?
The field of web security testing includes testing a website or web application to find out if it is vulnerable to security weaknesses. This is usually the first step in upgrading your website’s security.
Why is security important in Web applications?
Security is important in all applications, but it is especially critical in web applications because they are often connected to the internet and can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
As more and more businesses rely on Web applications, new vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered that put web-based businesses at risk for data theft or even complete system shutdowns.
A web application, like any other software, must be tested for security bugs. They would assist in detecting flaws before they have a chance to do significant harm to your company.
Even though a large number of companies are aware of how important it is to test their web apps, they often choose not to because it requires hiring an expert and paying expensive fees which results in increased costs.
Because applications rely on inputs and outputs to function, if there is mistrust in the user-based input, something similar may also reflect in the answer.
Minor security misconfigurations by developers, such as incorrect user input validation, server version disclosure, and the usage of insecure software libraries, lead to serious security vulnerabilities. DAST can assist you in identifying vulnerabilities in your programme even before any input is provided. It is not intended to operate on specific software, but rather on the application layer, where genuine apps are susceptible.
Security issues in Web Applications
There are several types of security issues that you need to be aware of when testing your web application. The most common ones are:
SQL injection: This is a vulnerability that allows an attacker to inject SQL code into an application in order to get access to sensitive data.
Cross-site scripting (XSS): This occurs when an attacker injects malicious code into a web page, which is then executed by unsuspecting victims who visit the page.
Broken authentication and session management: This occurs when an attacker is able to bypass the authentication process or steal session cookies in order to gain access to restricted areas of the application.
Information leakage: This occurs when confidential information is leaked from an application due to a security flaw.
Sensitive data discovery: This is the process of locating and accessing sensitive data that is stored on the web server or in the database.
Insecure communications: This occurs when an attacker is able to intercept or tamper with data as it travels between the client and server.
What are open source security testing tools and what advantages do they have to offer?
Open source security testing tools allow you to perform all of the tasks associated with web security testing without having to pay for them.
Advantages of using open source security testing tools:
- They are free to download and use.
- They are regularly updated.
- Their code is accessible to everyone. This ensures transparency.
- They come with detailed documentation that is easy to understand.
- They are not too complicated to learn. Some tools are even extremely user-friendly and easy to use.
- They come packed with essential features that allow you to do various forms of security testing.
- They have a large community of users and developers who are always willing to contribute to the code. This means you can get new features and bug fixes faster and without having to pay for them at every release.
Open Source Security Testing Tools can be used as viable alternatives by both individuals or businesses who cannot afford to hire a security consultant.
Top 5 Open Source Web Security Testing Tools
There are many open-source security tools that you can use for web security testing, but the most popular ones are:
Burp Suite: Burp Suite is a collection of tools that allow you to perform all types of security testing including vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and code analysis but it does require some expertise to operate. It is great for finding SQL injection vulnerabilities and XSS attacks which it does by intercepting traffic between a browser and web server.
Nikto: Nikto scans websites for backdoors or hidden files that may contain information that is highly sensitive. It has the option to be run from the command line or as a CGI (Common Gateway Interface), so you can use it to scan websites hosted on IIS, Apache, OpenBSD, and more. It also offers some vulnerability checks that are not included in other security testing tools such as directory listings and specific web server version detection.
OWASP Zed Attack Proxy: ZAP is another popular web security testing tool. ZAP provides a set of automated scanners along with built-in tools such as an intercepting proxy, a spider scanner for finding vulnerabilities in all related URLs, and a brute force authentication cracker for performing specific attacks.
SQLMap: This one is especially useful if your business deals with SQL databases. SQLMap is a database security tool that can be used to perform automated injection attacks. It supports different databases including Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and more. You can use it to query the database by guessing or using default login credentials in order to find sensitive data stored on the server.
CookieDigger: CookieDigger works by exploiting insecure session management mechanisms in web applications. It can be used to recover cookies and session IDs from websites that use weak authentication methods such as basic authentication or cookies without SSL encryption.
We have just listed a few examples but know that there are many open source security testing tools out there. The important thing is to find one that suits your specific needs and get started right away.
Security is an integral part of web application development and it should be considered at every step of the process. So, make sure to check your web applications for vulnerabilities on a regular basis.
Now you have seen how Web Security Testing can help your business and some examples of Open Source tools to get started with. It is critical to realise that you must do it right in order to avoid legal issues. So make sure to carefully read the documentation provided by each tool and only use it in your test environments.
It is important to note that these tools are not perfect, but they can still help you discover many security vulnerabilities in your web applications if used correctly.
If none of them worked for you or if you need further assistance with securing your application then you can always hire a security consultant.