Technology in the 21st century is shaping the world as a driving force behind organizations and businesses. At the same time, the app development industry has been growing in leaps and bounds. To secure applications, developers take their apps through several security tests. This post highlights the top 5 security tests every application developer should perform.
What is security testing?
In software development, security testing is a process that uncovers flaws associated with the security of an application. The process helps establish and detect hidden vulnerabilities in an application or software.
Its goal is to measure the likelihood and the impact of a potential compromise on the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of sensitive assets and data. The test ensures the application works within the set parameters and includes the necessary components to avoid the likelihood of exploitation.
Hence, Forbes indicates that security testing provides insights into the security risks an application presents to a business. It also allows developers to mitigate risks as they test general threats and make the application immune to risks and threats. Cybersecurity experts use several types of security testing tools and methodologies. Security testing procedures and approaches vary depending on circumstances, business niche, and requirements.
How to test the security of an application
Before deploying an application, developers must ensure it is free of vulnerabilities and glitches. However, it is possible to find some flaws when the application is live. To maximize security, developers must use security testing processes and tools to establish security flaws in applications.
Developers can test application security by including a secure software development lifecycle (SSDLC). Having a secure SDLC is efficient for testing security during pre and post-development phases. This approach describes how the application needs to be designed and developed while taking into account software testing.
A secure SDLC security testing relies on six fundamental steps. These are:
- Requirements – Involves analyzing various abuse cases that can trigger a vulnerability.
- Design – Entails analyzing the security risk of an application design both front and back end.
- Development – In this phase, the application’s code is analyzed through static and dynamic security testing to establish an insecure coding practice.
- Testing – This phase analyzes the code to make sure it meets the set requirements.
- Deployment – Here, the app undergoes a simulated attack to see how the application behaves.
- Maintenance – After releasing the app, maintenance is a continuous process whose purpose is to enhance the application’s security.
Popular approaches in security testing
Static application security testing (SAST)
This is a structural testing method that examines various static inputs like documentation and application source code. It tests several known security vulnerabilities. In simple terms, SAST involves scanning the code to establish security vulnerabilities. For each vulnerability it detects, SAST indicates its severity and includes a brief description.
Software Composition Analysis (SCA)
In this application security approach, development teams can quickly monitor any open source component they integrate into projects. It helps scan dependencies to establish security vulnerabilities. The method is important since most applications consist of open-source code.
One challenge organizations face is securing their code assembled from various building blocks that must be secured to mitigate risk effectively.
What is the difference between SAST and SCA testing?
Here is a quick SAST vs. SCA testing comparison. SAST does not require a running application since it only analyses lines of code. SCA, on the other hand, is handy for analyzing vulnerabilities in open source components.
Top 5 security tests for app developers
Application security analysis
Application security testing involves the inclusion of countermeasures in an application design and development. It advocates for the secure development and deployment of an application to decrease the attack surface. It is a continuous security management approach.
It encompasses everything from the app foundation to the implementation of security protocols to threat modeling to secure coding and patch management policies. Also, it includes remedial steps a business needs to take to decrease the risk impact.
This security testing helps analyze vulnerabilities across operating systems, networks, systems, and web servers. Usually, it happens through an automatic scan for a known vulnerability signature to authenticate insecure user credentials.
It also helps with segmentation, establishing configuration issues, access control policies, denial of service flaws, and sensitive data leakage. It helps eradicate risks based on their impact and the likelihood of occurrence.
This form of security testing is popularly known as ethical hacking. It is a step ahead of vulnerability scanning. It establishes security flaws or vulnerabilities in an application’s internal and external system using a real attacker. This type of testing helps determine how an application can be breached. Also, it establishes the extent to which these assets are exploitable and the steps necessary to reduce the risk impact.
With risk assessment, developers can use penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security test results as input. This type of security test helps map established threats and weaknesses based on their significance. Also, the mapping includes the likelihood of the threats appearing and the likelihood of collapsing the general security control in case of a minor or major incident.
A security audit entails a systematic examination of a company’s set security controls against industry regulations like PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR. The audit also evaluates the information system security procedures to ensure the application complies with set standards and provides data security and communication pathway.
What makes security testing important?
Today, application-based attacks are the norm. Applications form the foundation of each online activity; that is why application-based attacks have been increasing exponentially. To mitigate the risks of an attack, developers need to have relevant security controls in place targeting every access and endpoint. As well, they have to constantly monitor the effectiveness of the controls through automated and manual tools.
When done right, security testing shows potential threats and indicates the safety of the application. The best way of establishing if an application has appropriate countermeasures in the right places calls for multiple testing strategies. These include application security analysis, risk assessment, vulnerability scanning, pen testing, and security audits.