So, what is security testing?
Software security testing is a practice targeted at detecting risks and potential threats in applications while preventing malicious attacks that may result in data leakage, revenue loss, and reputational damage.
What is dynamic application security testing?
A type of non-functional testing, dynamic application security testing is a process aimed at uncovering web apps’ vulnerabilities via the front-end by means of simulated attacks, as if they were made by a malicious intruder.
What is static application security testing?
Static application security testing is a practice that implies source code review to detect flaws. Also labeled as white box testing, static testing scans software before code compilation or application production without executing the program.
Why take care to establish robust security testing workflows?
Some teams move past security testing due to the lack of visibility, as it goes in small-scale projects with a limited scope of work — they just don’t get the gist of the entire app execution flow.
Quite many individual engineers think of building development tests as a waste of precious time. With a jam-packed schedule full of engineering grind, the practice feels like drowning in red tape — tedious and unnecessary. That is, they may skip the test coverage routine altogether or release apps into production with just a couple of unit tests.
Others don’t want to do it single-handedly, finding it way too complicated, even with test automation in place. Still, a granular, well-vetted and orchestrated security testing process helps avoid monumentally dramatic consequences, especially concerning production environments or flawed apps reaching end users.
While some years ago companies toyed with the idea to employ DevOps, today many hit the point where they consider completely switching to DevSecOps rails where security testing is king throughout the full SDLC.
Assembling a security testing team
Once you bring on board a seasoned team understanding how to perform security testing, having a way with cyber security testing tools, and being able to set the testing environment pronto, you’re going to crush the task, no trouble. Who’s your potential crew, what are their roles?
Monitors each development phase to ensure compliance to software quality standards. Meaning, not a single error is accepted into production.
An umbrella term to engineers handling specified testing practices — from manual to performance, functional, and beyond, with minimal automation.
Manages QA and testing activities within projects, controls job quality and timing.
The position is mostly about assessing business problems. Namely, test analysts ensure that the functionality is okay in pre-production environments by building, running, and troubleshooting tests.
Test automation engineer
Normally, enterprises that focus on automated testing house automation engineers who are advanced in both testing and programming. They employ security testing tools like Cucumber, Selenium, and beyond to design and build test cases.
Explosive risks to be neutralized with security testing
Now that you’re done bringing the experts together, chances are you won’t even notice all those practices rubbing off on the team. Meaning, it’s all teed up for successful software security testing. Time that we proceed with a kind of a cautionary tale to scrutinize the vulnerabilities to better be ruled out in the first place.
To get your head in the game from the outset, check your software for injections. Namely, the naughty perils to be excluded are SQL injections. Those SQLIs are disturbingly common attacks manipulating backend databases through SQL code to access private or sensitive data hidden from the public.
Joining the list, script language injections that are mostly the web inhabitants stumbled upon in cases when a programming language utilizes user input to execute unfiltered code. Much like the OS command injection vulnerability, this one lets hackers manipulate your code.
Password reset poisoning attacks
Take matters tightly and audit your apps for broken logic, aka account takeover vulnerability or password reset poisoning. The threat was designed by ill-minded attackers to make the host server generate a malicious password reset link. Once the host receives and follows it, they risk losing their secret tokens meant for resetting arbitrary user passwords, thus compromising everyone’s accounts.
Insecure direct object references
Also common, pretty devastating and increasingly significant, this vulnerability shouldn't ever go unnoticed. What triggers it? It’s evergreen breaches in web apps’ access control. By letting these bugs in, you risk enabling attackers to directly refer to a malicious database key, static file or filename, query parameter, and beyond to exploit all of your records.
So, double-check to rule out a chance your web app or API utilizes identifiers for direct access to internal database objects without authentication or access control.
Vulnerable outdated components
By no means let obsolete parts steal your apps shine. As you employ outdated components no longer supported by the manufacturer, you make the whole system susceptible to security breaches due to the known vulns in place. Meaning, anyone from the outside can potentially access data or worse — take full control of the app.
So, first and foremost, keep your system modules up to date by running npm outdated. Also critical, test the solution in a dev environment prior to updating. Remember, direct manipulations within production environments are restrictively risky.
Best practices for software security testing
Not a top secret, using best practices of software security design and testing helps avoid resource-consuming debugging, enabling one to have all the time in the world for bouncing new ideas and upgrading functionality. Let’s zoom in then.
Least privilege principle
May seem simplistic, but cautiousness always pays off. The thing is, sometimes apps fail to run as expected under the lower privilege of a general user, not an administrator. This is exactly when roles and actions control gets out of one’s hands.
What makes enterprises enhance privileges? Typically, it’s cases when their apps’ code works well on older Windows versions but refuses on newer ones unless the user is an admin. Also, keeping apps up-to-date still seems too resource-consuming to many.
The least privilege principle of building security architectures implies granting each entity minimum resources and authorizations required for task completion. Painful as it is, from a security standpoint, there is nothing like this principle that saves from hurricane-shaped leakages and exploits.
Input data validation
No way of skipping it, as your system can well risk spiraling out of control. To never lose sight of it while preventing risks like script injection, make input validation a rule. In nutshell, it requires testing the app's input for compliance against its established standard.
Validation complexity will totally depend on how sophisticated your app’s mission is — from simply setting parameters to building dedicated business logic. Anyways, for greater efficiency and usability take care to make your form easily interpret multiple data types and implement extensive whitelists and blacklists.
Monitoring & logging
Any enterprise should better make room for monitoring and logging, as it’s a sensible approach to data tracking and storing. Relying on it is truly worth it, as this is a consistent way to make sure your app is available and load-resistant around the clock, no matter the state transformations.
Metric-enabled monitoring helps DevOps teams diagnoze system issues early on while staying alert any time. Especially beneficial for cloud-native environments, the practice allows highlighting suspicious network activity patterns, prevents compromising system security, and finds vulnerability sources if any.
Sensitive data encryption
Never been bigger, data encryption isn’t something to get past. Whether you’re building an HTTPS website, a booking or messaging app, or a private enterprise network, encryption is a total must-have. Think your app’s data isn’t that sensitive? Think again. Any kind of information that’s actively traveling across locations, servers, and nodes, cries for encryption.
From personal, internal, regulated, nonpublic, and private, not to mention protected health information, data requires secure treatment compliant to advanced standards. Opting for today's strongest AES 256-bit better be a rule for finance, insurance, and healthcare. Also watertight ones are Rivest-Shamir-Adleman, Triple DES, Blowfish, Twofish, Format-Preserving Encryption, and Elliptic Curve Cryptography. The only poor option is ignorance.
And just like that, we’ve checked the major points off the list and avoided potential production scrap! As we gradually slide into the big league of web3, no one should take software security for granted. To be on the safe side while handling the transition, it’s ultimately your decision whether to reach out to a team that’s adept in the field.
May all of your apps be super secure and splashy on the market! Take care.
Frequently asked questions
What are the most popular software security testing tools?
As of the end of 2022, the top efficient software security testing tools, arguably, were Google Nogotofail, Acunetix, Invicti, W3af, SQLMap, Indusface WAS, Intruder.io, Veracode, Checkmarx, Rapid7, ZED Attack Proxy, Browser Exploitation Framework, and more.
What is means testing for social security?
Simply put, means testing is a practice, currently under consideration, to be introduced for monitoring the annual income of Social Security beneficiaries in order to define whether they should get a reduced benefit check, or none benefit at all.