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3 Most Effective Ways to Identify Website Security Vulnerabilities

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In 2021, approximately 30,000 websites fell victim to hackers daily. In addition, the year saw 64% of companies worldwide facing at least one type of cyber attack. When creating websites and web applications, the priority tends to be creating a high-quality, well-designed, and scalable product. However, ensuring that website security vulnerabilities are accounted for can lead to a more secure and stable experience for the end-user.

Here are the three most commonly used approaches that ethical hackers use to identify website security vulnerabilities so that you can be more proactive in securing your websites from cyber threats.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing—aka pen testing—involves simulating cyberattacks with known tools and tactics. It attempts to break into and/or corrupt networks, applications, websites, and computer systems. Pen tests help ethical hackers and website owners evaluate their websites’ security stance and standards to see how efficiently they can withstand breach attempts. It extends beyond website and web application security to examine potential flaws in networks, system configurations, databases, and even functions as an authentication.

There are several types of pen tests, including external testing, internal testing, targeted testing, blind testing, and double-blind testing that can be used depending on the website’s security objective. Some of the tools and services used by security professionals for pen testing include port scanners, vulnerability scanners, web application assessment proxies, and application scanners.

Objective-Based Penetration Testing

Objective-based penetration testing is an advanced form of pen testing that involves launching covert, real-world cyberattacks on your website. Rather than defining a scope of targets, this test defines objectives. With a covered-based approach, the testing is more thorough than a regular penetration test and focuses on objectives outlined with your company goals in mind.

Conducting objective-based penetration testing helps mimic real-world hacker attacks to identify potential weaknesses in your website or web application. These advanced simulated attacks can help identify a website's security vulnerabilities and create a strategy to respond in the event of a security breach.

Tailgating, card cloning, device planting, USB device drops, and email phishing are a few forms of attacks that may be utilized during an objective-based penetration testing procedure.

Application Security or DevSecOps

Entailing the inspection, study, and reporting of vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the source code of a website or web application, application security testing). AST helps in coming up with source code that is more secure from both internal and external threats.

The purpose of application security testing is to provide information about software vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a website's or web application's source code before flaws are exploited during a cyberattack. Application security testing is conducted as a single thorough pass through the application to help spot vulnerabilities and produce more secure source code from both internal and external threats.

AST is usually carried out using a blend of manual and automated methods. The traditional AST approach includes static application security testing (SAST), web application firewalls (WAF) testing, and dynamic application security testing (DAST).

Static application security testing (SAST) involves inspecting aspects like binaries, source code, and byte code for potential vulnerabilities and scrutinizing the application’s security and response towards potential threats. Relating better to application mockups, it can also be used to check if the source code, framework, and libraries work well in tandem.

Web application firewalls (WAFs) are the network defence mechanism that filters, analyzes, and restricts HTTP traffic to and from a web application. WAF is more advanced than a regular firewall and keeps track of application-level traffic. It carries out actions according to the information visible on the network and security standards that have been defined beforehand. It's a good idea to run WAF testing on web applications to make sure the application behaves normally, even with WAF.

Dynamic application security testing (DAST), aka black-box testing, is primarily conducted to determine an application’s weaknesses to external attacks. It involves ‘attacking’ the web application with hundreds of requests that have been generated using DAST tools and identifying anything that can lead to the exploitation of the application in any way. DAST can locate and address issues and vulnerabilities around identity management, cryptography, input validation, session management, error handling, and even business logic.

For a recurring application security testing service, it's best to go with a DevSecOps offering that will provide continuous, full development lifecycle support, CDI Integration and Defect Tracking. DevSecOps is great for organizations that have multiple application releases a year that require code and feature upgrades before promoting to production.

Conclusion

Although adhering to coding best practices is a must during the application development process, it is equally important to test for security vulnerabilities in websites and web applications, both during and after deployment.

Packetlabs is a trusted partner for many organizations to help you protect your most valuable assets – your data and your customers. Contact Packetlabs today to learn more about addressing your website's security vulnerabilities.