Web applications are an integral part of our lives now. The rate at which utilization of web apps is being done is exponentially high and there is no looking back. Users are sharing huge volumes of data and there are multiple transactions happening at the same time. Be it online payment, online shopping, private images, and files – everything is on the web. The more the number of transactions through web applications, the higher is the concern for the security of the data involved within. It isn’t as simple as it looks – having a simple testing mechanism for ensuring security may not work. There must be a specialized way of testing these applications, to ensure trustworthy functionalities. And that can be done best through Security testing.
The security testing market was valued at USD 5.36 billion in 2020 and expected to reach USD 22.9 billion by 2026 and grow at a CAGR of 27.2% over the forecast period (2021 – 2026) – Read
Before we understand the reasons why vulnerability assessment and penetration testing is vital for web applications, let us quickly glance through what it is.
What is Security Testing?
Security testing is a process intended to reveal flaws in the security mechanisms of an information system that protect data and maintain functionality as intended. – Wikipedia
Security testing is a specialized kind of software testing that reveals all possible cyber threats, malicious attacks, risks, susceptibilities in the web application. The main task of these tests is to find out all possible weak areas that may lead to leakage or loss of information and thereby harm the status of the organization. It ensures that the resources and data involved are kept safe and secure from any kind of security threat. It is meant to ensure confidentiality, integrity, authentication, accessibility, and authorization.
The different kinds of security testing involve penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, risk assessment, security scanning, posture assessment, ethical hacking, security auditing. Different techniques like Tiger box, black box, and grey box testing are involved while performing this testing for web apps.
Some of the well-known security testing tools are Acunetix, Netsparker, ImmuniWeb, Vega, Google Nogotofail, SQLMap etc. It can best be done by understanding organizational requirements, collecting data and system needs, creating a possible threat list and designing test plans, creating a matrix for all risks and threats, finalizing testing tools and test cases, implementing them, and creating an in-depth report on the results.
Why is Security Testing So Important for Web Applications?
There are key reasons why organizations seek specialized software security testing services for web applications, here are they:
Identification and Prevention of Security Threats
All web applications possess confidential information that must be kept protected from unwanted sources. Cybercrime has its own focus on extracting such information and misusing it for their own purposes. However much the QA team tries to have the best of quality and performance, that may not turn out sufficient in protecting this information. What is needed, is to go a step further and that can be achieved through focussed penetration testing.
One big reason why security testing is essential for web apps is the need to test over and above the routine testing activities, especially for keeping the apps safe from any type of cyber-attacks and malicious activities. It also helps in finding out implementation issues that have been overlooked while another testing is taking place. It can help developers and testers to find out possible mishaps even before the hackers do. It involves different types of testing like database testing, network testing, brute force attacks, SQL injection, and more.
Ascertaining the Security Requirements of the Project
As much as security testing helps in keeping the hackers away and protecting the web applications, it also helps big time in understanding if the current security measures in the project are sufficient to protect the apps, from unwanted access. Performing security testing can unveil the possible weak areas that need repair or focus, to have a better implementation success ratio.
Be it any type of testing – performance, functional, load, etc., or implementation of continuous delivery and continuous integration processes, this testing can help in finding out the missing areas in the existing system, as far as the security regulations go. It will also help developers and testers find out the necessary steps to ensure proper third-party implementation.
Continued and Smooth Business Operations
Having an insecure environment or opening data to outsiders may prove to be harmful for having a smooth business operation. There must be continued access to network/resources/infrastructure and a regular communication protocol for running a smooth business regime. Not having security testing in place may lead to hurdles in between, that can cause a disruption in business operations.
Even a single disturbance in schedules may lead to a heavy impact on the overall business performance and brand image. It is a big factor when it comes to attaining high-end client satisfaction. And encountering cybercrime is a matter of business pride. Hence, having a smooth security testing regime is a must to ensure your business does not suffer.
Meeting Client Expectations and Maintaining Confidence
In case the web application compromises on confidential information, it can have a big blow on the confidence level that has been built with the clients, over the years. It can harm the brand image of the organization and future business prospects too. Clients have their own expectations from the company and insufficient security testing may lead to severe obstacles in achieving that.
Customers may want that the system performs without any performance issues, data must be secure and confidential, there should not be any system vulnerability, and much more. Having an effective security testing schedule in place is the right way to ensure that good client satisfaction and confidence level.
Prevent Costs Incurred Due to Security Issues
Any kind of security issue can prove to be harmful not only in terms of brand image, customer trust but on a financial level too. It could lead to a big expenditure that may have to be done, for reverting the harm that has occurred through cybercrime. For any malicious attack that has been done, there are financial implications on the organization to get back things to normal.
Businesses must have regular security testing to defer from such unwanted costs that may occur owing to the hacking efforts by unwanted resources. It will help identify such possible attacks much before time and prepare the web apps to face them, with no loss of confidential information.
Adherence to Compliance Standards
There are standardized norms and compliance regulations like HIPAA, OXLEY, etc. that must be followed by web applications. Security testing assists organizations in offering detailed information through different reports, that can help them avoid getting penalized for not following standards. Such testing schedules can help in ascertaining that the apps are following industry standardized guidelines.
Security-related activities like performing risk assessment, encryption of data, privileges management, implementation of patching protocols must be observed under this umbrella of security testing. A security-based methodology can surely save web applications from risks, overheads, and giving away your data to risky elements for misuse.
Sufficient Level of Expertise as Against Cybercrime
Cybercrime attackers keep upgrading themselves to learn newer methods of harming web applications. Going merely by a standard testing process may not suffice in understanding and fighting against cybercrime. Security testing is a must for developers and testers to perceive how these cybercrimes would occur and how best to protect their apps from it.
Just the way the malicious intenders upgrade themselves with the latest technologies, the application security testing team, too, must keep themselves updated with the latest security moves that go a step ahead in keeping their system safe and secure.
Higher Chances of a Successful Implementation
After all the hard work and perseverance put in by the teams, the last thing they would want is a hassled implementation because of cyber-attacks. If businesses wish to have a flawless implementation, security testing is a must, and that too, from the start of the project till its smooth implementation.
It is vital for Security Testing Service provider organizations to understand that if the hackers hamper the system flow before it is used by the end clients, it could lead to a great deal of havoc and harm the success of the project. Ensuring a thorough security testing mechanism could lead to a smooth flow of information, with accurate user access and a smooth operation.
As We Wrap Up
Just as software testing is an integral part of software development, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing is a very critical arm of testing especially for web applications, where there is a lot of data being exposed. These key reasons should be strong enough to emphasize that software projects dealing with the creation of web apps must take security testing into consideration, right from the beginning and continue its execution at each step. It is better to be proactive than to be late, especially when there is a pool of data involved!