Web Application Penetration Testing Methodology

Learn more about our methodology and the steps used in our web application penetration testing engagements

application-penetration-testing-methodology

Your website and mobile web app are your welcome mat for visitors and you want them to be appealing and eye-catching. Chances are most of your developers’ time and your company’s resources are going to be spent making your pages and mobile application navigation the best they can be from an aesthetic and user experience perspective. These are important metrics to hit. However, you don’t want to inadvertently overlook cybersecurity because a lack of it can also have an adverse effect on your user experience. Poor performance due to interference by bad actors can leave a negative perception of your organization to your web and mobile visitors. Worse, if their data is breached inadvertently breached due to weaknesses in your source code or buried within other areas of your applications.

Unfortunately, both scenarios are real threats because your web and mobile applications are most likely going to be heavily targeted by cybercriminals as they scour for potential vulnerabilities. These days, small businesses are just as vulnerable as large corporations since hackers count on smaller companies not investing in security. If their exploits result in a data breach or their attacks succeed and force you to experience extended downtime, either result will be costly for your company; especially if the result is a loss of web services or exposure of your sensitive data. A web application penetration test (also known as “pentesting”) performed by security professionals can mitigate these risks by identifying any problems and highlighting any vulnerabilities within your pages.

RedTeam Security has been providing premier information security services since 2008. Our team brings years of experience and uses a meticulous methodology in our pentesting for web applications. To learn more about how our security testing can help you to strengthen your web applications, call us today at 612-234-7848 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation or to learn more about our pentest methodology.

What is Application Penetration Testing?

Web application pentesting is a specified process that uses techniques on your applications to detect any existing security risks. Web application developers often inadvertently overlook security as they focus on code development, visual design, and app management, which is completely understandable. These are all important components of a good website or mobile app. Web application penetration testing effectively fills the security gap and ensures all of your web applications are as secure as they can be.

The goal of a web application pentest is to break into a web application using penetration attacks and threats. We do this by using a combination of manual and automated penetration tests. As we test, we seek out any security flaws, threats, and vulnerabilities and highlight what they are and highlight ways any risks we identify can be eliminated.

Each and every penetration test we perform is conducted by consistently using globally accepted and industry-standard frameworks. This helps to make up our application penetration testing methodology. To ensure a sound a comprehensive application pentest, RedTeam Security leverages industry-standard frameworks as the foundation of our penetration test strategy. At a minimum, the underlying framework is based on the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) but we go beyond the initial framework itself to ensure well-rounded and deep testing takes place.

Schedule a Free Virtual Meeting With Our Cybersecurity Expert

At RedTeam Security, we understand the hard work and level of detail that goes into application development, and it’s easy to miss some security points. Unfortunately, cybercriminals will actively seek to exploit these weaknesses. Our goal is to help your team understand any potential vulnerabilities and identify solutions to ensure your applications are strongest; they can be from a security standpoint. Through the vigorous processes established in our testing methodology, we’ll find any weaknesses. About 80% of our application penetration testing is manual testing, with 20% being automated testing. Schedule your free virtual meeting with a RedTeam Security expert today at 612-234-7848.

What Are the Benefits of a Penetration Testing Methodology?

You want to maintain your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy organization or business. Employing a penetration testing methodology can help you to do this.

The benefits associated with penetration testing are many:

  • Provides an in-depth analysis of your current cybersecurity position.
  • Gain insight into any existing vulnerabilities.
  • Learn remediation strategies to reduce exposure to any identified vulnerabilities.

Along with your test results, our penetration testers will give you all of the information you need to make more informed decisions about your past, current, and potentially future security vulnerabilities that exist within the framework of your web applications. If you use open source applications, we’ll pentest weaknesses within their source code as well. We’ll help you to develop good strategies to protect all of your web applications.

Web Application Penetration Testing Steps

RedTeam Security’s methodology is a meticulous process – one we use for each and every pentest we perform. Experience has shown us and our clients that our proven web application penetration testing works.

Application-pen-testing-methodology

Reconnaissance (Information Gathering)

The first phase in our web application penetration test focuses on collecting as much information as possible about a target application. We call this Reconnaissance, aka Information Gathering. It is one of the most critical steps of the pentesting processes. We conduct this portion of the test through the use of both passive and active reconnaissance by simulating or actively engaging in different types of attack vectors.

  • Passive reconnaissance involves using public tools to gather information already on the internet. We do this mostly with search engines, but also employ other methods to find information that anyone searching the internet can identify and gather.
  • Active reconnaissance involves pentesters using more aggressive tactics, such as scanners, cross-site scripting, sending simple HTTP requests, or by issuing specially crafted requests with the intention of retrieving an output.

Every step of both the passive and active reconnaissance processes will be documented to establish a baseline that can be used to identify future vulnerabilities that can be exploited by nefarious characters. Through testing, RedTeam actively tries to force your web applications to leak information, disclose error messages that can be exploited, or to reveal versions and technologies used. You’ll also find as we go through the process with you, you’ll play an important role in the information-gathering phase of application pen testing.

Example tests include: Error Code Analysis, Fuzzing, Search Engine Recon, App Enumeration, and App Fingerprinting.

Configuration Management

Comprehending the deployed configuration of your server/infrastructure hosting your web applications is nearly as critical as testing the application itself. After all, an application chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and you can be rest assured those with non-honorable intentions will be seeking these weak points to launch cyberattacks or gain access to your valuable data. Application platforms are wide and varied, but some key platform configuration errors have the ability to compromise your web application in the same way an unsecured application can compromise your web server (insecure HTTP methods, old/backup files).

Example testing includes: TLS Security, Database Listeners, File Extension Handling, and Cross-Site Tracing.

Authentication Testing

Authentication is the process of attempting to verify the digital identity of the sender of a communication. The most common example of this is the logon process. Any weak point in this process can result in a massive data breach if you’re not careful. As a step in our pentesting methodology, we test the authentication schema. Once we do so, it enlightens us to see how your current authentication process works and then use this information to try to circumvent the authentication mechanisms. Any weaknesses identified in this step can be effectively remedied to prevent bad actors from passing authentication steps to access your sensitive information.

Example testing includes: Brute Force Testing, User Enumeration, Transport Layer Security.

Session Management

Session Management is defined as the set of all controls governing the stateful interaction between a user and the web application they are interacting with. In general, this covers anything from how user authentication is carried out to what happens when the user logs out of your web application.

Example testing includes: Session Fixation, Cross Site Request Forgery, Cookie Management, and Session Timeout.

Authorization Testing

Authorization Testing is the part of our methodology that involves understanding how your authorization process works and using that information to circumvent the authorization mechanism. Since authorization is the process that comes after successful authentication, the pen tester will verify this point after he/she holds valid credentials that align with a well-defined set of roles and privileges. If not, our testers will determine where any lapses are in this part of your security posture and identify how to fix any weaknesses or discrepancies found.

Example testing includes: Directory Traversal, Privilege Escalation, and Bypassing Authorization Controls.

Data Input Validation

One of the most common web application security weaknesses is the failure to properly validate input coming from the client or from the environment before using it. This particular weakness is one of the primary causes of all of the major vulnerabilities present in web applications. This includes cross-site scripting, SQL injection, interpreter injection, locale/Unicode attacks, file system attacks, and buffer overflows.

Example tests include: Cross-Site Scripting, SQL Injection, OS Commanding, and Server Side Injection.

Denial-of-Service (Optional)

A denial of service (DoS) attack is when a bad actor attempts to make a web application (or other important resources) unavailable to legitimate users. Traditionally, DoS attacks have been network-based. For example, a person with malicious intentions wants to flood a target machine with enough traffic to render it incapable of servicing legitimate users. However, there are other types of vulnerabilities present at the application level that can allow a malicious user to make certain functionality unavailable, which can put a significant damper on day-to-day operations or transactions (not to mention frustrate legitimate users or customers).

Typically, these problems are caused by bugs in the application and are often triggered by malicious or unexpected user input. This phase of our testing will put an emphasis on application layer attacks against availability that can be launched by just one malicious user on a single machine.

We recognize not all of our clients will have an appetite for DoS testing and, if this is the case, it may not be a component of each and every penetration test we perform. This is a step we’ll discuss with you to determine if this portion of testing would provide value to you.

Web / API Services

Web services have certain elements of exposure just like any other type of protocol or service. What is different is web services can be used on HTTP, FTP, SMTP, or MQ, among other transport protocols. As a result, we’ll look for vulnerabilities in web services are similar to other vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection, information disclosure, and leakage, but web services also have unique XML/parser related vulnerabilities.

Example tests include: Information Gathering, Fuzzing, and Replay Testing.

Let’s Get Started Today, Schedule a Free Consultation With RedTeam Security

At RedTeam Security, we understand the hard work and level of detail that goes into application development (we’re highly experienced developers!), so we know first-hand how easy it can be to miss some security points. Unfortunately, cybercriminals know this. They’ll be waiting to actively seek to exploit these weaknesses through various attack vectors, such as SQL injection, social engineering, phishing, injecting malware, or by exploiting other web application vulnerabilities. To combat these bad actors, we’ll perform a risk assessment and vulnerability assessment to help us fully understand your configurations and identify any potential weaknesses. Once this is achieved, we’ll use our robust testing tools to see how your web application stands up to our pen-testing. 

Our goal is to help your team zero in on critical issues, understand any potential security vulnerabilities, and help you to identify solutions to ensure your web applications are the strongest they can be from a security standpoint. Through the vigorous processes established in our testing methodology, our experienced pentesters will find any weaknesses and help you establish solid security controls to prevent future data breaches or other exploits. About 80% of our application penetration testing is manual testing, with 20% being automated vulnerability scan testing. To learn more about web application security testing, schedule your free virtual meeting with a RedTeam Security expert today at 612-234-7848.

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