Software development was heavily motivated by corporate and business requirements in the initial days of computing, if not for government or defense reasons. Corporate software has always been at risk of being sabotaged by competition or enemies. Targeting software and networks or data through vulnerabilities in the program has always been a favourite for hackers and cybercriminals. Yes, there was less cybercrime during then and an even smaller number of hackers, however, the targets were much fewer too. This is why, even before the beginning of the software revolution during the 1990s where more middle-level organisations started using software for business purposes, the security aspects of any software were always heavily tested before deployment.
Ensuring the security of software became even more important when more and more households or individuals started purchasing computers for personal use. This promoted an influx of software development in order to suit the various needs of individuals. This also simultaneously fueled the need to test software, especially its security aspects. This is because the data of users must be protected and their interests should not be negatively affected. For companies using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, or software for other business operations, they were at an increasingly greater risk. This was especially true for organisations that started using web-based software to operate on a daily basis. Web-based systems are more at risk to be compromised as there are more means to target the software. For offline software, the physical security or the hardware must be bypassed in order to manipulate it or steal data. However, protecting software from every angle in a holistic manner is important as threats can arrive from anywhere.
What is Security Testing?
Security Testing can be simply defined as a set of methods that identify defects and bugs in the software or system that can compromise the security of the software, data, or users. It is used for evaluating the threats, predicting future attacks, and protecting the software. The main motive is to identify bugs, glitches, loopholes, and other vulnerabilities that can allow intruders to get into the system and extract valuable data or infect and damage the data.
Security Testing compromises important tasks such as these:
- Threat Detection and Prevention
- Vulnerability Discovery
- Risk and Vulnerability Assessment
- Security Assessment
- Software Composition Analysis
- Dynamic Application Security Testing
- Container and Infrastructure Security Analysis
- Penetration Testing
- Security Auditing
- Security Review
- Data Loss Prevention
- Interactive Application Security Testing
- Web Application Firewall Management
Why is Security Testing Necessary?
As companies and businesses started storing more data and information in the cloud and not on-site, they were more at risk from hackers and cyberattacks. This meant that the software they were using to access their data or for conducting their daily business operations could be manipulated, destroyed, or compromised in general. A cyberattack can result in massive financial loss or even bankruptcy. It can also lead to sensitive data being leaked to the public or held hostage in blackmail attempts. This is why it eventually became highly important to ensure the quality of software being released and only after running them through suggested security testing methods.
So fundamentally, Security Testing is important for:
- Identification of threats in the software or system
- Measurement of threat and vulnerabilities
- Confidentiality and protection of Information
- Maintaining the integrity of the data and software
- Authentication management
- Authorisation management
- Availability management
The 7 Security Testing Methods
Security testing is mainly focused on network testing, system software security, client-side application security, and server-side application security. This is why a set of methods are prepared to tackle all of these cyber security domains and protect the software holistically.
Here are the various Security Testing methods:
- Vulnerability Scanning: Here, analysts and security experts scan the software with automated software to detect threat patterns and other vulnerabilities.
- Security Scanning: In this method, system and network weaknesses are identified manually or with automated software, and solutions are provided for reducing the threat or fixing the defects.
- Penetration Testing: During this method, attacks are simulated after a close analysis of the system, and ethical hackers are asked to attempt a cyber attack. Malicious hackers are emulated in this process and testers try to find different ways to carry out the attacks, thus identifying more vulnerabilities.
- Risk Assessment: In this process, threats are analysed and observed for a period of time to be classified into various levels of danger. The motive of these Risk Assessment methods is to minimize or control the risk.
- Security Auditing: In this method, the software is inspected internally or the code is scanned in order to identify various security factors that can compromise the software by letting unauthorized individuals access the data or system.
- Ethical Hacking: During carrying out ethical hacking procedures, security flaws are exposed from an external perspective in a more real-life environment. Companies sometimes even invite external ethical hackers and ask them to hack them.
- Posture Assessment: During this stage, all of the other methods are revisited one final time to make a final assessment of how prepared the organisation is and how secure the software is before deployment or release.
Frequently Asked Questions
Security Scanning is one of the best examples of security testing. This scans the system or network to identify vulnerabilities and helps in preparing a model for risk reduction or removal. A good security testing ppt or journal will have more examples of security testing test cases.
Cross-site scripting, Injection, broken authentication and session management, sensitive data exposure, security misconfiguration, unvalidated redirects and forwards and insecure direct object references are the key techniques in security testing. A reputed web application security tutorial or any holistic security testing tutorial will help you learn these 8 techniques.
The different elements of security testing are application security testing, infrastructure testing, mobile device security assessment, security code review, mobile application security testing, security build review, firewall review, social engineering, wireless assessments and phishing engagements. A reputed security testing certification can help you learn how to handle all these security requirements.
When talking about how to perform security testing or during security testing interview questions, one can get asked about this. Security testing tools are tools that help applications become more resistant to cyber-attacks and security threats. These tools help identify the vulnerabilities of the application with ease.
Powershell-suite and Netsparker can both definitely be declared as the best tools for security testing.
The X-Force Red can be recommended for code review and manual penetration testing.
Security testing is important for protecting customer data, user data, organisational data, sensitive information such as finances and many more important digital assets.
The additional benefit of security testing is increased goodwill. Secure and safe software leads to the developing organisation to be trusted more by users and customers around the globe, thus leading to better sales.
The main types of security testing are risk assessment, security assessment, penetration testing, network testing, authorisation management, authentication management and availability maintenance.
Software products must be secure and safe, regardless of the fact if the software is meant for personal or corporate use. This makes it absolutely necessary to carry out security testing. Without proper security testing protocols, frameworks and tools, any software is bound to have multiple defects that can expose it to hackers and competition. This is why all of the above methods must be utilised to ensure that the software cannot be compromised.