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Web application security testing tools and their necessity and benefits

Web application security testing is the process of evaluating web applications to identify and address potential security vulnerabilities and loopholes that could be exploited by malicious attackers. The goal is to ensure that web applications are built and maintained with robust security measures to protect sensitive data, maintain user trust, and prevent security breaches.

As we know software security has become very essential due to wide use of software applications in our daily life. Each and every electronic gadgets we use run on operating system and other necessary application softwares. Following software security requirements lead to development of security based tools:
• Data confidentiality   • Data integrity   • Data availability   • authentication   • authorisation   • Access control (read, write, read-write, execute, full control)   • Audit   • privacy protection   • security protection

security testing types
Figure-1 : Security testing types

There are two types of security testing viz. functional testing and vulnerability testing. Functional testing assures tools dveloped comply with security standards and takes care of all the basic security functions as per requirement specifications. Vulnerability refers to any bugs in the software coding or in design. Vulnerability testing tests the tools as an attacker attacking the system's security application tools. It is also referred as penetration testing.

web application security testing tools
Figure-2 : Web application security testing tools

There are various security testing tools which include SARA,Qualys Free security scan, Qualys Gaurd, STAT scanner, Nessus security scanner, SAINT, NetiQ security Analyzer, Nikto scanner, tenable security center, SPI Dynamics web inspect, IBM Appscan, Acunetix web vulnerability scanner etc. Web application is in use tremandously owing to boom in internet supporting wireless and wireline technologies and devices.

Web application vulnerabilities

Following are few of the vulnerabilities of a typical web application. This leads to development of web application testing tools.
• cross site script
• SQL injection
• Adoption of wireless technologies with loop holes
• broken authentication
• session management
• use of unsecured open source softwares and applications
• Use of unsecured Pirated stuff
• Improper configuration to counter security

Why tools are required ?

Web application security testing is required for several important reasons as outlined below.
• To identify vulnerabilities mentioned above
• To protect sensitive data
• To comply with regulations and standards e.g. GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS
• To safeguard business reputation
• To prevent financial loss
• Maintain customer trust
• Stay ahead of evolving threats
• Prioritize security resources
• Improve software development
• Adhere to best practices

Web application test tools

Test tools are essential for streamlining the testing process, improving test coverage, detecting bugs and security vulnerabilities, and ensuring the application's overall performance and quality.

Several application security tools are available to help with this process, covering various aspects of web application security. Some popular web application security testing tools are Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, Acunetix, Nikto, Nmap, SQLMap, Netsparker, Vega, AppScan, Wapiti, Qualys WAS and so on.

Wapiti: This tool is developed by Nicolas Surribus in 2006 and is widely used as vulnerability scanner for the web application. It will scan launched web site's web pages. It will inject the payload and checks for script's vulnerability. Basically it acts like a fuzzer. Wapiti does not find all the vulnerabilities but it is good open source tool. It will help detect following vulnerabilities:
• Errors in File handling operations
• Database injection
• LDAP injection
• CRLF injection
• cross site scripting

OWASP testing tool: It is one of the penetration testing tool. The features are active scanning and fuzzing. Active scanning feature of ZAP tool helps find XSS and other type of vulnerabilities. Fuzzing feature of ZAP helps fuzz any portion of the application software. It is also open source software tool.

Netsparker: This web application security testing tool is used as scanner. This tool scans the web applications and produce the vulnerability results if any in no time. This tool works independent of any technology or platform applications are designed for. It supports javascript and AJAX. Netsparker helps scan for XSS, SQL injection, backup files, static tests, boolean SQL injection etc.

Advantages of application security tools

Following are the benefits or advantages of web app testing tools. They can greatly aid in the process of testing and ensuring the security, functionality, and performance of web applications.
• The tools automate the testing process, allowing testers to perform repetitive tasks quickly and efficiently.
• We can achieve broader test coverage by executing a large number of test cases across various browsers, devices, and operating systems. This helps identify potential issues in different environments.
• Automated testing ensures that the same tests are executed consistently and accurately every time, reducing the risk of overlooking critical issues.
• When changes are made to a web application, regression testing is crucial to ensure that existing functionalities remain intact. Automated testing tools can easily re-run test cases to check for regressions and catch potential issues caused by new updates.
• The tools can help to identify vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, XSS, CSRF, etc. These tools can scan the application for security flaws and provide detailed reports to aid in remediation.
• Tools like JMeter, LoadRunner, or Gatling can simulate a large number of users accessing the web application simultaneously, helping you understand how the application performs under different loads and identifying potential performance bottlenecks.
• Automated tools reduces the time and effort required for testing, leading to cost savings in the long run.
• Some testing tools can simulate real-world scenarios, such as user interactions, to provide more realistic testing conditions and uncover potential issues that may not be evident in isolated test cases.
• By identifying and fixing bugs and vulnerabilities early in the development process, web application testing tools help improve the overall quality of the software, leading to a more reliable and secure application.

Conclusion : In conclusion, using web application security testing tools is crucial to proactively identify and address security vulnerabilities in web applications. They offer efficiency, comprehensive coverage, early detection, and continuous monitoring, all of which are essential to building secure and reliable web applications in today's threat landscape. They play a critical role in delivering robust, secure, and user-friendly web applications to end-users.

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