It is useful for every new or established hacker to know where to find the best websites, web apps and battlegrounds that are vulnerable. Why am I saying this? Because the use of websites and web applications specifically designed for hacking is a safe way to:
- To cut their teeth, new hackers,
- To expand their knowledge or potentially discover new vulnerabilities, researchers and
- To keep their skills current, experienced hackers, developers, webmasters, pen testers and auditors.
Of course, we mean “ethical hacking” when we say “hacking.” And using these deliberately vulnerable websites and web apps for testing gives you a secure environment to practice your craft legally while remaining on the right side of the law. This way, without treading into murky waters that might result in your arrest, you can hack. (Unless the idea of spending time in jail sounds like a good time, of course, then, hey, you do.)
Why These Resources Are Useful to Developers in Particular
It’s no secret that vulnerabilities leave you (and your users) vulnerable to attacks by bad guys on your websites and web applications. But what makes matters worse is that the web security company Acunetix states in its Web Application Vulnerability Report 2020 that 63 percent of web applications and perimeter network security technologies have vulnerabilities of medium severity and another 26 percent demonstrate vulnerabilities of high severity.
While this data is lower than what they have previously reported, it’s still too high, frankly.
You are probably responsible for designing, creating and testing new and secure websites, apps, operating systems or other technologies as a developer. Successfully doing this requires:
- Integrating best practices and approaches to cybersecurity into your development structure and processes;
- Understanding which platforms or languages for development are most vulnerable; and
- You can do what you can to make them safer.
This implies that to identify and mitigate these vulnerabilities, you must have the required knowledge and skills in cybersecurity. And you need to be aware of the trends in the cybercrime industry, but also of the real-world approaches used by cyber criminals, to keep these attributes as up-to-date as possible. This is where it can be helpful to use vulnerable websites and web apps.
But where can you find vulnerable websites (or a list of such resources) that are so useful? Don’t look any further.
Best Vulnerable Web Applications & Vulnerable Testing Websites
This list includes a variety of vulnerable websites, web apps that are vulnerable, battlegrounds, and groups of wargames.
“And before you ask, no, in terms of importance or what resources would be considered the “best,” there is no specific order for this vulnerable website list. Frankly, I’m not a hacker myself, so I’m just going to list them in alphabetical order to make things easy and avoid starting any online arguments about how X is better than Y. To see how you could rank each different website, try these resources out for yourself.
Such suggestions came from my peers or are among the most popular choices that are often recommended in online hacker communities.
Buggy Web Application (BWAPP)
For students, devs, and security pros alike, the Buggy Web Application, or BWAPP, is a great free and open source tool. It’s a PHP app that relies on a database based on MySQL. Whether you’re preparing for a project or just want to get some practice to keep your ethical hacking abilities up to par, there are more than 100 bugs for you to practice on in this solution with the cute and happy little bee mascot. All of the major (and most common) known vulnerabilities are included in this.
CTFlearn is a popular platform for ethical hacking that is used worldwide by tens of thousands of people. The name of the platform is based on the industry’s common Capture the Flag (CTF) contests. These are usually cybersecurity competitions designed for hackers and other IT professionals, often by other site users, that provide users with an opportunity as either an attacker or defender to solve particular problems.
For eg, a typical CTF challenge might involve you to break into a Linux web server and grab the “flag,” which could be a text file stored on the server. A passphrase you should use to show that you have achieved the challenge may be within the text file. This is a platform that allows you to carry your white hat or black hat, depending on your mood and how the challenge is set up.
The challenge categories are grouped by thresholds of difficulty or a selection of subjects, including:
Damn Vulnerable IOS App (DVIA)
All right, I would be deeply shocked if you’d never heard of this one. The Damn Vulnerable iOS App (DVIA) is a deliberately penetrable iOS device, just as the name would mean. In a set of challenges inside a stable (and legal) environment, this open source resource enables mobile security pros and enthusiasts to flex their expertise.
Compared to the rest of this list of insecure websites and vulnerable web applications, what’s particularly cool about this one is that it is primarily based on smartphone apps. Although many insecure web applications are available, there are less purposely vulnerable smartphone app environments on which to train. That’s the size to a unicorn in a wild horse herd.
Would you like to play with any problems with network layer security? Have had it. What are flaws in local data storage? It, too, protects that. Simply download and update DVIA on your iOS computer to use the tool.
Defend the Web
Defend the Web, Formerly known as HackThis (hackthis.co.uk), Protect the Site is a wonderful platform that is reportedly used by more than 600,000 hackers with all levels of expertise across the globe. A number of security-focused posts on coding, hacking, privacy, network security, and other related issues are provided by this immersive security forum.
The platform also has message boards and other information tools to learn from, as well as a sandbox with hundreds of exercises that allow users to train and refine their talents, whether you’re looking for more treats or opportunities to interact.
Google Gruyere is a well-known web framework codelab, close to the French cheese type that has the same name, and is full of “holes” that you can learn to locate and hack. It is written in Python and to make life simpler, it is grouped by vulnerability categories. They will include a concise overview of the vulnerability for each mission that you will either use black-box or white-box hacking to discover, manipulate, and/or classify (or a combination of both techniques).
Although this webpage is meant for individuals who are studying application protection, it is also sufficient for someone who knows (or at least is familiar with) how web applications work and the types of vulnerabilities within them.
Simply go to the Start Gruyere website to start a new instance of AppEngine in Google Gruyere and continue from there.