With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated, businesses are increasingly aware of the importance of protecting their web applications from security breaches. A common way to identify security vulnerabilities is to perform penetration testing or penetration testing.
Penetration testing allows organizations to simulate an attack on their web application, identifying areas of weakness that could be exploited by a malicious attacker. When done correctly, penetration testing is an effective way to detect and fix security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
The Seven Steps of Penetration Testing
There are seven main steps in a complex penetration testing process that must be followed in order to effectively assess an application’s security posture:
- Pre-engagement: Before starting the actual penetration testing process, it is important to prepare the environment well and define objectives. This includes gathering information about the target application, analyzing existing security policies, and determining the types of tests to perform. The pre-engagement phase consists of defining the scope of the project, defining the objectives and obtaining the appropriate authorization to carry out the test.
- Data gathering: Pen testers collect information about the target application, including architecture, technologies used, potential entry points, and user roles. This step consists of identifying all the components of your web application and creating a complete inventory. This includes web pages, databases, APIs and other server-side components, network mapping, service identification and fingerprinting. The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the application’s security posture. Once the application and all of its components have been identified, it is important to configure it for testing by setting up appropriate user accounts and access control lists (ACLs). This ensures that only authorized users have access to sensitive areas of the application.
- Discovery Scanning: Pen testers perform active scanning and reconnaissance to discover vulnerabilities. This is where the pen test begins in earnest. During this phase, testers will run a series of scans to look for potential vulnerabilities. This includes analyzing common security issues such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
- Vulnerability assessment: The Penetration Testing Team is attempting to exploit the vulnerabilities it has discovered. They use various tools and techniques to assess the effectiveness of existing security measures and determine potential entry points. This involves testing authentication mechanisms, input validation and access control. During this phase of the test, testers will also attempt to gain privileged access to further explore the application architecture and identify potential weaknesses.
- Operation: After gaining access, this step helps the pen tester determine what additional damage an attacker could cause within the application. Here, testers are able to analyze to what extent an attacker could compromise the system and retain control. This includes identifying potential avenues for data exfiltration, such as the use of web shells or other methods of executing malicious code.
- Reports and risk analysis: Once the tests are complete, the testers will generate a full report of their findings. This includes documenting what was discovered during testing and providing an assessment of the application’s security posture. The report can then be used to prioritize remediation efforts, along with recommendations to improve overall security.
- Remediation and new test: The last step is to fix the identified vulnerabilities and implement the necessary security measures. Once these potential security threats are identified, they can be addressed by having the development team make changes to the code. Prompt remediation ensures that the application is more resistant to potential attacks. Further testing should be performed to validate remediation processes and ensure that no new vulnerabilities have been introduced.
The Need for Pen Testing as a Service (PTaaS)
Traditional penetration testing delivery often takes weeks to set up and results are on time. With the rise of DevOps and cloud technology, traditional penetration testing once a year is no longer enough to ensure continuous security.
To protect against emerging threats and vulnerabilities, organizations must perform continuous assessments: continuous application penetration testing.
Pen testing as a service (PTaaS) offers a more efficient process for proactive and continuous security compared to traditional penetration testing approaches.
Organizations can access a view of their vulnerability research in real time, through a portal that displays all relevant data to scan for vulnerabilities and verify remediation effectiveness as soon as vulnerabilities are discovered.
Moving to PTaaS streamlines the testing process and provides ongoing security assessments while providing:
- Efficiency and automation: Leverage automation tools and frameworks to optimize the penetration testing process. Automated scans and tests are performed regularly, ensuring continuous monitoring of web applications for vulnerabilities. This approach eliminates the need for manual intervention in each test cycle, saving time and resources.
- Seamless integration: Seamlessly integrates into the development lifecycle, eliminating interruptions and delays. He works hand-in-hand with the development team, allowing vulnerabilities to be identified and addressed early in the software development process. By providing one-click fixes for common issues, PTaaS simplifies the remediation process, allowing developers to quickly address vulnerabilities without deep security expertise.
- Continuous security monitoring: maintain continuous monitoring of web application security. Regular scans and assessments ensure vulnerabilities are discovered quickly, minimizing the window of opportunity for attackers. This proactive approach allows organizations to address vulnerabilities before they disrupt release schedules or lead to greater security risks.
- Scalability and flexibility: Provides scalability to manage multiple applications and environments simultaneously. Whether an organization has a single web application or a complex infrastructure, PTaaS can scale to meet its needs.
- Expertise and support: access a team of qualified security professionals specialized in penetration testing. These experts have in-depth knowledge of the latest attack techniques and methodologies. Their expertise ensures that comprehensive testing is performed, vulnerabilities are accurately identified, and actionable recommendations are provided for remediation.
- Compliance and Reporting: Get robust reporting capabilities, providing detailed information about web application security posture. Compliance reports can be generated to meet regulatory requirements, making it easier for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to security and compliance standards.
PTaaS provides scalability and flexibility, allowing organizations to securely monitor multiple applications across multiple environments, ensuring vulnerabilities are identified and addressed before they can be exploited by attackers.
Outpost24 PTaaS (Pen Test as a Service) is a complete and reliable platform that allows organizations to improve the security of their web applications.
With Outpost24’s PTaaS, organizations can benefit from continuous security monitoring, proactive vulnerability detection, and streamlined remediation processes.
Start a more efficient and effective approach to web application testing with proactive and continuous security.
Sponsored and written by Outpost24