Your web applications may be the most critical systems on your network. Web applications often contain sensitive data that can be targeted by cybercriminals. To make matters worse, we’ve seen companies ranging from small businesses to global organizations that do not perform any web application penetration testing. Without this security-focused testing, externally facing applications could leave entire organizations at risk.
Web application penetration testing is one of the best security practices that you can take.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen many companies that do not perform sufficient security testing. This usually only includes automated web application scanning or unauthenticated web application testing, both of which can miss critical vulnerabilities.
We hope that this information helps you understand why web application penetration testing is a necessity for your organization.
Penetration Testing Is Required for Regulatory & Compliance Standards
Penetration testing is required for regulatory and compliance standards. These include Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), HITRUST, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and many others.
Web Application Penetration Testing Could Prevent Cyberattacks
The well-known Equifax breach could have easily been prevented. The web application that was attacked had a vulnerability that should have been identified and fixed. Although there was a known patch for the web application vulnerability, the web application was not updated, resulting in a devastating breach.
Secure Coding Is Not a Replacement for Penetration Testing
Unfortunately, programmers are not perfect and unintentional mistakes can be made when applications are being developed and updated. Organizations benefit from independent security testing. Routine penetration tests can help identify your vulnerabilities, help determine the exploitability of vulnerabilities, help gauge the potential impact of vulnerabilities, help access organization risk, help prioritize your remediation efforts, help you meet regulatory and compliance standards, help you explain security concerns to technical engineers and application developers, and help you justify security-related initiatives to executive leadership.
Common Application Security Risks
Common application security risks include:
- SQL Injection (SQLi)
- Code Injection
- CRLF Injection
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
- Email Header Injection
- Host Header Injection
- LDAP Injection
- OS Command Injection
- XPath Injection
- Other Injection Attacks
- Broken Authentication
- Sensitive Data Exposure
- XML External Entities (XXE)
- Broken Access Control (Broken Authorization)
- Security Misconfiguration
- Insecure Deserialization
- Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
- Insufficient Logging & Monitoring
- Improper Error Handling
- Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF)
- Logic Flaws
Application Scanning vs Penetration Testing
While vulnerability scanning may be included in the initial phase of vulnerability identification, manual analysis and manual testing is a must. Vulnerability scanners alone can often miss vulnerabilities, report false positives, or not give accurate risk ratings. Manual penetration testing includes additional techniques to identify vulnerabilities along with human analysis to gauge the true severity, potential impact, and organizational risk.
Running a vulnerability scan and saying you are vulnerable is completely different than actually exploiting vulnerabilities. If you hire a firm that relies on automatic vulnerabilities scanners, critical vulnerabilities could be missed. Central InfoSec team members have published custom tools to track manually found findings that scanners miss.
How Often Do I Need Web Application Penetration Testing?
There is no magic number that fits every organization. Routine application testing should be performed to identify potential security vulnerabilities. Annual penetration tests are not enough. Monthly web application penetration tests, along with weekly vulnerability scanning are much more effective at improving your overall security posture. Web application penetration testing should also be performed for all new applications and after any application updates.
Free Consultation with Central InfoSec
Central InfoSec specializes in web application penetration testing to help you reduce risk to your organization.
Central InfoSec also offers a variety of professional security services to help you test, measure, and improve your overall security posture. Security services offered include red teaming, penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, web application testing, managed phishing, and other tailored security services.