Penetration Testing, also known as pen test or pen testing, is a process to identify, exploit, and report vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can exist in any system including applications, services, or operating systems.

With respect to the business-critical applications, both automated and manual penetration testing is critical to ensure that major business operations are not breached or affected by attacks.

According to the HPE Cyber Risk Report 2016, 90% of applications had at least one vulnerability that hackers could exploit.

Vulnerability Testing Survey

Today, online businesses use automated and manual penetration testing to uncover vulnerabilities in their critical application systems (backend/frontend servers, APIs, etc.). You can start by finding the common OWASP vulnerabilities with AppTrana Free Website Security Scan.

 

Application Penetration Testing Methodology

Vulnerability Penetration Testing

Step 1: Target Reconnaissance

Before initiating pen testing, ethical hackers or “pen testers” gather all the information about applications. This introductory step is called ‘Reconnaissance’ and is actively used by hackers to choose easy targets.

Passive Reconnaissance: Ethical hackers use a combination of tools and research about the application. Every piece of information is handy. Information on DNS, WHOIS databases, and web server type provide preliminary information on how a tester should carry out the attack.

Active Reconnaissance: Once a penetration tester or hacker has all the basic information about the target applications, he moves to next stage by sending packets to the target system. This can be a manual or automated task to look for vulnerabilities, firewalls, and DDoS protection tools. Here are some of the popular tools for hackers.

  • Nessus – Vulnerability Scanner
  • AMAP – Application Mapper. AMAP uses the results from NMAP to mine for more info.
  • Paratrace – TCP Traceroute that utilizes selected TTL messages

Step 2: Business Process and Application Logic Mapping

 Attackers no longer target OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities; they look beyond the usual vulnerabilities and dig into the logic of the application to uncover business-specific loopholes.

Following are examples of business logic flaws that automated tools would miss.

 -An e-commerce site allows users to add items to cart, view a summary page and then pay. What if they could go back to the summary page, maintaining their same valid session and inject a lower cost for an item and complete the payment transaction?
-Can a user hold an item infinitely in the shopping cart and keep others from purchasing it?
-Can a user lock an item in a shopping cart at a discounted price and purchase it after several months?
-What if a user books an item through a loyalty account and gets loyalty points but cancels before the transaction could be completed?

Penetration testers consider all the business processes and application logic that can be used to exploit weakness within the application.

Step 3: Automated Testing

When it comes to frequent testing, nothing can beat the software and tools that look for weaknesses daily or scheduled basis. Automation is a huge part of the penetration testing process, especially when there are frequent changes in the application.

The process includes configuring testing tools based on inputs from the previous two steps. Data is fed into the testing tools to look for vulnerabilities on authenticated and open application services.

  • Frequent automated scanning without the need for hiring or training security staff
  • Quick reports on most common vulnerabilities including OWASP, open source and third-party software issues
  • Tools can be scaled as per requirement. A single scanner can test thousands of applications

Step 4: Manual Penetration Testing

No matter how intelligent an automated tool is, it will still miss some of the vulnerabilities. According to OWASP, every application has a different business process, and application-specific logic can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways. Not all issues can be found through automation.

Vulnerabilities like business logic flaws and authorization issues will always require human expertise. An ethical hacker or pen tester (with a team of hackers/testers) spends hours looking for weaknesses that can compromise the application’s function.

  • Complete coverage for standard vulnerabilities along with compound and logical flaws
  • PCI DSS, GLBA, HIPAA, FISMA, and NERC CIP regulations

Step 5: Assessment and Reporting

 Once the automated and manual penetration testing is complete, simply publishing the findings is not enough. Most internet businesses want to understand the flaw, its cause, and its business impact. Any organization wishing to protect its applications from attack should invest in getting accurate, quantifiable and solvable results.

Pentest Process

An ideal pen testing report should contain the:

  • Number of vulnerabilities
  • Types of vulnerabilities
  • Criticality of vulnerabilities
  • Business impact
  • Remediation guidance
  • Observations from the tester
  • Analysis

Why should you perform pen tests?

Cybercrime damages will cost $6 trillion annually by 2021, with an average cost of a breach crossing $7 million in the US this year. It is rudimentary to have an application security program in place that can identify and fix security loopholes before the hackers exploit them.

Data Breach Damage

  • Security breaches in applications interrupt performance and lead to direct financial loss and reputation damage. The negative press coverage and erosion in customer loyalty is often followed by fines and penalties.
  • Penetration testing identifies all the vulnerabilities and helps Online businesses can focus on securing customer-facing and sensitive data services first.
  • The adoption of new technologies and cloud-dependence has made applications the #1 target for hackers. Today, securing apps is as important as securing network resources.

Get comprehensive penetration testing with instant protection

Indusface helps global online businesses to manage their application security programs efficiently. Our penetration testing process is backed with instant web application firewall protection through AppTrana that covers OWASP Top 10, SANS Top 25, and business logic vulnerabilities.

You can start with the AppTrana Free Forever Website Security Scan to find out how it works.

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