As firms and industries explore multiple verticals, products, and services, large-scale web applications are becoming quite common and necessary. This makes the aspect of security equally important, if not more, as cyberattacks keep increasing in quantity and intensity. However, many firms still don’t conduct regular penetration testing procedures.
Every year, lists like the OWASP Security Testing Guidelines are put up to educate firms and security experts on the most troubling vulnerabilities that have cost firms in revenue and reputation. It would be apt and simplifying to address web application security from a perspective of a checklist as both firms and web security testing organizations would find it easier to address each step.
What should be included in your web penetration testing checklist?
All forms of online penetration testing procedures are about how well the threat simulations work out in revealing vulnerabilities. It focuses on the effectiveness of conducting unauthorized attacks within or from outside the application and staying within the system to keep accessing sensitive information. Therefore, to ensure a successful penetration testing procedure, here are some aspects to keep in mind:
- Form a baseline for comparing your test results
It’s always good to have comparison criteria for the test results gained so as to understand the extent of variation. This is especially important since the scope of the testing procedure will be limited and each and every scenario cannot be covered for adequate comparison. By creating a baseline, you’re able to ensure that the web application meets the basic criteria for security standards and data protection by covering the most important vulnerabilities without spending too much time on analysis.
- Define your testing categories
As we mentioned, it’s not possible to have a wide array of vulnerabilities and the scenarios of their occurrence, which means you’ll need to identify and segregate the right amount of areas to be tested. This will also help in deciding the type of tests to be conducted for uncovering the maximum number of vulnerabilities and perfecting your overall security goals. Each application has its own operating context and specific vulnerabilities which consequently needs the right kind of approach.
Some of the categories include:
- Sensitive data exposure,
- Injection attacks,
- Weak server configuration checking,
- Absence of platform configuration tests,
- Third-party component security,
- Bypassing authentication checks,
- Lack of application configuration checking
- Business logic and application functionality
- Appropriate session management
- Choose a testing checklist program suited for your needs
With the right checklist solution, your time and resources are freed up to check on the important vulnerabilities that may have been skipped under the baseline definition. There are a number of solutions that allow you to set up the tasks and procedures and verify their completion before moving forward.
Look out for those service providers that allow you to integrate each test with its respective findings which can be used to put up tickets or create reports for the company personnel. This way, all of the information is set up and defined properly for the right stakeholders to find and peruse. It will also reduce the in-between tasks and save time and resources and speed up the process to find the right remedial solutions for the discovered vulnerabilities.
- Prioritize your vulnerabilities for resolution
It’s important to divide and conquer the vulnerabilities discovered through the exploitation phase. Since we want to get them resolved before they’re taken advantage of to gain access to the system, each vulnerability should be given a criticality score based on their impact and resolved accordingly. Towards the end of each test conducted, define a process into which the information about the vulnerabilities is entered so that the designated person can tackle it on priority.
- Don’t forget to check for identity and deployment management
All information about the deployment of the server configuration where your website is hosted should be registered and analyzed. Configuration errors are one of the most popular vulnerabilities that end up in compromised systems and eventually take down the entire server.
Identity and access management is also important since this aspect of the security barrier determines access privileges and user identity. It should also define the roles of all the internal network users and the specific situations in which certain access privileges will be extended or repealed. The ideal testing procedure should account for the user registration procedure, the username/password policies, and account provisioning.
In this context, authentication policies are equally crucial since the slightest error can lead to hackers misusing user credentials, compromising session IDs, and misusing other flaws to breach the system. Therefore, all browser cache weaknesses, default credential settings, and password policies should be verified to ensure complete security.
Web penetration testing should form the foundation of your security strategy since it’ll inform the firm on how to formulate cybersecurity policies based on the weaknesses discovered. The chosen third-party service provider should also keep these requirements in mind and design pentesting procedures accordingly.