In today's world, web applications are routinely deployed on a massive scale by companies and organizations alike. Web applications allow a great amount of user interactivity which facilitates information sharing, communication, e-commerce transactions, and more. It is critical that your web applications undergo a thorough dynamic penetration test before being deployed.
Web applications run on an application server where they generate content based on business logic, and are generally connected to web servers and important back-end systems such as databases and application programming interfaces (API's). A website offers a powerful interface for cyber-attackers to use in order to infiltrate business systems, generally by going through web applications that have high-risk vulnerabilities and are often connected to critical back-end infrastructures. Thus, while dynamic websites with web applications offer great interactive platforms for user engagement, they may also open a door for malicious activity by offering a semi-direct link to your back-end business systems.
If left unprotected, insecure web applications can offer cyber-attackers an entrance into your company network and business systems. To illustrate how important web application security is several data breach reports, such as the Verizon 2016 Data breach report, state that 40 percent of confirmed breaches in 2015 were through web applications that had a security hole that was exploited. Furthermore, according to the report, web applications account for 35 percent of internet breaches. At the same time, while the data indicates that over 50 percent of web application attacks involved stolen credit cards, over 40 percent involved the use of backdoors, and roughly 20 percent involved the use of SQL injection (SQLi). The above data translates to web applications being a primary target that cyber-attackers exploit. As web applications become primary e-commerce transaction mechanisms, it is imperative that your web applications are fully tested and secured.
Dynamic penetration testing is typically a black-box security assessment that can be utilized against a variety of network systems, applications and software programs. This generally entails a security engineer using automated scans and manual testing techniques to gauge (from the outside-in) how secure an application is by attempting to bypass, break or actively hack the software or system.
This can include attempting to gain unauthorized access to a system (which is related to access control and authorization protocols), reverse engineering the program in order to analyze the source code and find a backdoor, cracking or brute forcing passwords to gain entry into a session, using malware to cripple the security controls of an IT infrastructure to steal data, and more. Dynamic testing of web applications can be carried out using automated scanning software, or by manual testing via security engineers, or both. In this day and age, many beginner ``hackers`` use packages and automated tools (e.g. Kali Linux tools, Metasploit) to hack and exploit web applications without advanced knowledge on software, network systems, programming, etc. Thus it is often the case that beginner and advanced cyber-criminals can not only use such readily available, open-source programs to exploit applications, but can also apply manual hacking methods to attack web applications and often gain unauthorized access to critical business systems. This often happens because hackers apply the technique of ``pivoting,`` in which they compromise one system and use that to attack and compromise another system that is linked to it.
Since web application servers and web servers are often connected to backend systems in an unprotected way, the compromise of a web application often gives cyber-criminals unrestricted access to other business systems. Thus it is important to run tests using tools such as web application scanners, vulnerability scanners and fuzzers, transport layer encryption tests, application proxies, and more. When you run automated tests on your own systems first before cyber-criminals do, you can then understand your security posture and apply the correct remedial protocols that can facilitate gaining complete web application data security.
These experts can manually test your web applications to ensure that they meet strict security parameters. Though automated dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools can help the initial phase of testing web applications, they cannot interpret results in an efficient manner, and will often report false positives (i.e. determining that an innocuous software mechanism is a security threat) and result in false negatives (i.e. actual security threats that are not identified. Automated scanning tools do not understand the significant, detailed complexities of authentication and authorization protocols, complex workflows, access control mechanisms, and session management parameters in order to correctly interpret the test results.
In addition to legislation associated with company security policies, there are also guidelines stipulating how financial companies should protect the data of their customers. One such legislation is the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which sets forth requirements for businesses that render financial services or goods to adhere to, including keeping customer data secure and confidential. Specifically, this act dictates that financial companies must reveal to their customers exactly how their information will be shared among different business networks, and that these companies take sufficient steps to safeguard their customer's information. This includes providing security
training to employees and implementing risk management programs, as well as monitoring, updating and testing business systems, evaluating security-control efficacy and identifying, assessing and mitigating threats to customer information. There are other regulatory bodies that exist to mandate comprehensive information security policies, and whose guidelines can affect you and your business. For instance, the New Basel Capital Accord (Basel II) establishes mandates in relation to bank capital requirements, which may also have ramifications for data protection in relation to any financial operations that are carried out. In establishing capital and risk management stipulations, cyber-attacks and information security are taken into account for some of the other guidelines of various legislative bodies, such as the aforementioned Basel II.
We produce a unique risk management report detailing the nature of each vulnerability found within your web application. This report is based on the OWASP Risk rating methodology to determine the overall level of risks associated with threats so that high and low level risks can be prioritized, immediate threats can be mitigated, and low-level risks can be dealt with in an acceptable manner. Our reports are customized specifically for your systems by our security professionals based on several years of risk management experience. We then provide your application engineers with detailed explanations of the vulnerabilities found, along with the procedures to fix the immediate security issues and develop more secure software in the future. Lastly, our security assessments satisfy the regulatory requirements stipulating that businesses must receive a security audit by a third-party.