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Application Security Testing: API, Web, and Mobile App Vulnerability Detection

22/05/2024

Application Security Testing: API, Web, and Mobile App Vulnerability Detection
Application security testing is the process of evaluating the security of an application or system during QA by identifying vulnerabilities and assessing the impact of those vulnerabilities. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as manual code reviews, automated static and dynamic analysis, penetration testing, and security testing of the infrastructure supporting the application.

The goal of application security testing is to identify and remediate potential security risks before they can be exploited by attackers.

What are the types of application security testing?

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) is a method where the internal structure of an application is examined using white-box testing techniques at the time of QA. This process includes analyzing the static source code to identify and report any potential security vulnerabilities that may exist.
Additionally, during QA, these tools can be used on both non-compiled codes to find issues like syntax errors, math errors, input validation issues, and insecure references, as well as compiled code using binary and byte-code analyzers.
Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) is a method where the application’s behavior is examined by executing the code and inspecting it during runtime for QA using a black box testing approach.
This process looks for issues that may represent security vulnerabilities, such as problems with query strings, requests and responses, the usage of scripts, memory leakage, cookie and session handling, authentication, execution of third-party components, data injection, and DOM injection.
Additionally, DAST tools can be utilized to perform large-scale scans simulating a variety of unexpected or malicious test cases and providing reports on the application’s response.
Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) is a method that combines the techniques of SAST and DAST to detect a broader range of security vulnerabilities for QA. Similar to DAST, IAST tools run dynamically and inspect the software during runtime. However, they are executed from within the application server, enabling them to inspect compiled source code as well.
These tools can provide useful information about the origin of vulnerabilities and the specific lines of code that are impacted, making it easier to fix the issue. They are able to analyze source code, data flow, configuration, and third-party libraries and are well-suited for API testing and QA.
Mobile Application Security Testing (MAST) is a method that integrates static analysis, dynamic analysis, and investigation of forensic data generated by mobile applications to detect security vulnerabilities for QA.
MAST tools can be used to test for vulnerabilities similar to SAST, DAST, and IAST and also address specific mobile issues such as jailbreaking, malicious wifi networks, and data leakage from mobile devices.
Software Composition Analysis (SCA) is a method that assists organizations in maintaining an inventory of third-party commercial and open-source components used in their software. Enterprise applications often utilize thousands of third-party components, which may have security vulnerabilities.
SCA helps to understand which components and versions are being used, identify the most significant security vulnerabilities affecting those components, and determine the simplest way to fix them during QA.
Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) is an advanced method that evolved from SAST, DAST, and IAST. It has the ability to analyze application traffic and user behavior during runtime to detect and prevent cyber threats.
Like previous generation tools, RASP has visibility into the application source code and can analyze weaknesses and vulnerabilities when completing QA. It goes further by identifying when security weaknesses have been exploited and providing active protection by terminating the session or issuing an alert.
RASP tools integrate with applications and analyze traffic at runtime and can not only detect and warn about vulnerabilities but also prevent attacks. By having this type of in-depth inspection and protection at runtime, it makes SAST, DAST, and IAST much less crucial, making it possible to detect and prevent security issues without costly development work and QA.

Why do we need application security testing?

Application security testing is necessary to ensure that software applications are secure and free from vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers. These vulnerabilities could include issues such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and authentication flaws. Without application security testing, these vulnerabilities may go unnoticed, leaving an organization’s sensitive data and systems at risk of compromise.

Additionally, as more and more business transactions are conducted online, the security of applications has become critical to protect the reputation, brand, and financial well-being of the organization. Furthermore, regulatory compliance requirements such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA also mandate security testing and quality assurance of applications.

Minimizes risk from internal and external sources

Keeps companies out of the news, protecting the reputation of the brand.

Secures consumer data and fosters client trust.

Prevents the disclosure of important information.

Increases the confidence of important investors and lenders.

What is a web vulnerability scanner?

Vulnerability scanners are automated tools that can be used to identify security weaknesses in web applications by searching for common vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). More advanced scanners may use advanced techniques during QA to provide a deeper analysis of the application. Burp Scanner, for example, is a powerful tool that can detect vulnerabilities that other scanners might miss, like asynchronous SQL injection and blind SSRF.

Some vulnerability scanners partially automate website mapping by using spidering. More advanced scanners employ crawling, which involves detailing all possible paths a user could take and how their journey is impacted by links and other navigational transitions.

Modern applications often have multiple states, such as an e-commerce site’s “basket” page that may look the same whether it is empty or contains items, with the exception of a “checkout” button. High-performance scanners typically provide options for customization throughout the testing process, including scan setup, targeting scope, vulnerabilities to assess, and level of detail in post-scan reports and quality assurance.
What are the common weaknesses detected by automated scanning?

Reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of vulnerability that can be detected by automated scanners. These scanners typically send test strings that include HTML markup and search the responses for these strings, which allows them to identify basic XSS issues.

Directory traversal is a type of vulnerability that can be identified by automated scanners. This can be done by submitting a traversal sequence targeting a known file and then searching the response for the appearance of that file.

SQL injection is a vulnerability that allows an attacker to manipulate a database query made by an application. This type of vulnerability can sometimes be detected by automated QA scanners using basic payloads that are designed to cause recognizable error messages.

Open redirection is a type of vulnerability that allows an attacker to redirect a user from a legitimate website to a malicious one by manipulating a URL parameter. This type of vulnerability can be detected by automated scanners by submitting payloads designed for testing whether a parameter can cause redirection to an arbitrary external domain. Open redirection vulnerabilities can be used by attackers to phish sensitive information or to launch other types of attacks.

Application Security Testing Best Practices
Test internal systems, not just APIs and UIs
It is common for application security testing to only focus on external threats, such as user inputs through web forms or public API requests, but it is also important to test internal systems and interfaces for vulnerabilities.

Attackers often exploit weak authentication or vulnerabilities once they have already gained access to the internal network. To prevent this, it is crucial to use application security testing during QA to check the security of internal interfaces and connections between systems.

Test more often
As new vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered, it is important for organizations to regularly test their critical systems for QA and stay up to date with security updates for the thousands of components that their enterprise applications use.

It is essential to prioritize testing for systems that are business critical and for high-impact threats and to have the resources in place to quickly remediate any issues that are found. This is important to ensure the continued security of the organization’s systems and data.

Third-party code security
It’s crucial for organizations to QA test any third-party code they use in their applications, whether it’s commercial or open-source. If severe issues are discovered, the organization should take action, such as applying patches, consulting with vendors, creating their own fixes, or even considering switching to a different component.

This will help to ensure the overall security of the organization’s applications.

Is SAST or DAST better?

SAST
DAST
White box security testing is a method in which the tester is given access to the internal structure, design, and coding of an application. The testing process starts by examining the application from within and works outward. This type of testing is typically done by application devs.
Black box security testing is a method in which the tester is not provided with any information about the technologies, frameworks, or internal structure of the application. The testing process starts by examining the application from the outside and works inward. This type of testing simulates the approach of an attacker and is typically done by hackers.
It does not require a deployed application. Instead, it analyzes the source code or binary of the application without executing it. This type of testing is done by looking for vulnerabilities in the code during QA itself rather than testing the application in a live environment.
It does not require access to the source code or binary of the application. Instead, it analyzes the application by executing it in a live environment. This type of testing is done by simulating different types of attacks on the running application and looking for vulnerabilities during QA.
SAST analyzes the source code or binary of an application without executing it, it can be performed early in the software development life cycle (SDLC), and it helps to identify vulnerabilities in the code itself.
DAST analyzes the application by executing it in a live environment, and it can be performed later in the SDLC after the development cycle is complete, and it helps to identify vulnerabilities that may not be present in the source code.
Vulnerabilities may be fixed for less money and even faster since they are discovered earlier in the SDLC. Before the code reaches the QA cycle, findings may frequently get corrected.
Vulnerabilities that cost more money to fix. Remediation, a lot of times, gets delayed into the following cycle since vulnerabilities are frequently found at the end of the SDLC. An emergency release may be necessary to address critical vulnerabilities.
The program can’t identify runtime vulnerabilities since it only checks static code.
The program can discover runtime vulnerabilities since it performs dynamic analysis on an active application.

Why Choose Focaloid?
Focaloid Technologies offers competence in a wide range of areas, including front-end, back-end, mobile apps, cloud-native apps, and app modernization. Building dependable, scalable, and secure solutions with great performance require end-to-end development knowledge, which our experts possess.

Conclusion
In conclusion, application security testing is a critical component of overall security strategies. It helps organizations identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities in their applications, which can protect sensitive data and systems from cyber threats.

Regular testing and updating of security measures can also help organizations stay compliant with industry regulations and standards. It is essential to have a comprehensive application security testing and quality assurance (QA) program in place to protect against the ever-evolving threat landscape and to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the systems.

Published:22/05/2024

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