The Complete Guide to Web Application Penetration Testing

If you are a web security professional, web penetration tester, or web application developer, this article is for you. This article will help you educate yourself and educate yourself on Web Application Penetration Testing (WAPT) techniques and tools; Explain how to test for vulnerabilities in your web applications; Provide tips on how you can improve the security of your web application with WAPT.

Web application pentesting

Web Application Penetration Testing (WAPT) is a method of identifying and preventing web application security issues. WAPT involves the use and understanding of vulnerabilities, tools, techniques, and procedures in web applications to identify security issues in web applications that could be exploitable for malicious purposes by hackers or other unauthorized persons. . Web applications are programs designed to run on web servers such as Internet Information Services (IIS), Apache Tomcat, etc. They can range from simple text-based calculators to complex e-commerce solutions like Amazon’s Marketplace; which includes many different services operating simultaneously: authentication systems, databases, websites, etc.

To perform effective web application slope testing requires a thorough knowledge of the technologies used in web applications, such as web servers, web application frameworks, and web programming languages.

What are the benefits of performing web application penetration testing:

The web application penetration testing is the most effective way to detect web application vulnerabilities and security issues. With WAPT, you can find out whether your web applications are hackable or not, that is, whether they have vulnerabilities that can be exploited for malicious purposes by hackers or other unauthorized persons; You can test web applications in a secure environment without worrying about dropping production systems during penetration testing; It helps identify problems before attackers, allowing you to take action before user data is compromised. Web application pentesting can help web security professionals understand how web applications work, the technologies used in web applications, and the vulnerabilities of web applications exploited by attackers; It allows you to better understand the attack surface of your application so that appropriate countermeasures can be put in place.

How Web Application Pentesting Works:

Web application penetration testing is performed by web security professionals who are responsible for the security of web applications. Web security professionals use a variety of tools and techniques to run WAPT on web applications; they also develop custom test cases that mimic actual attacks against web applications with predefined goals.

Web penetration testers typically follow these steps:

Understand how your target application works (e.g .: what technologies it depends on, etc.) Analyze your target application using automated or manual tools for vulnerabilities in client-side code such as JavaScript, objects Flash, active content like cookies, etc., When you find a vulnerability, exploit it to get more information about its root cause, then try to fix it if possible;

Here’s what web penetration testers typically do:

  • List web applications and web servers;
  • Identify the target application, its technologies (servers, frameworks) and its programming languages;
  • Perform a manual penetration test using tools like Burp Suite or Acunetix to find vulnerabilities in client-side code like JavaScript, Flash objects, etc. ;
  • Use automated scanners such as Netsparker or HP Web Inspect to identify known vulnerabilities related to the web server and framework. Automated WAPT tools can also be used to exploit vulnerabilities in web applications detected during the manual testing phase of pentests;
  • Carry out Analysis of the source code of the web application as necessary so that you can troubleshoot security issues by implementing appropriate filters on the input data before it reaches the web application web servers.

Tools used in web application pentesting:

There are many open source and commercial web application security assessment tools available to perform web application security assessments such as

  1. Acunetix WVS / WVS11;
  2. Netsparker Web Scanner;
  3. IBM Rational Appscan Standard Edition;
  4. HP Web Inspect Professional;
  5. Paros Proxy etc.,

But manual penetration testing of web applications is another great alternative to these automated techniques that provide more flexibility when performing tests. Several steps are required to perform a manual security assessment of a web application. This ranges from discovery to exploitation depending on your testing goals (for example, to exploit vulnerabilities).

How to perform web application penetration tests:

Once you’ve identified the target for your web application security assessment, it’s time to do discovery. You should make every effort to gather as much information as possible about your target, which will help us plan our next steps during the pentest; like identifying all public systems, what software platforms are used, etc., After performing recognition searches on Google, LinkedIn social networking sites or any other relevant source available online using keywords that match the name of the application or the technologies used, you should also look for downloadable web application files that contain sensitive information such as usernames and passwords.

Now is the time to discover the technologies used at your target by browsing the source code of the application or other resources available online; this is a very important step as it will help plan our next steps during the penetration testing process, especially if you are using automated tools as they can only detect vulnerabilities based on specific web application frameworks / languages , etc., we always recommend using Penetration testing methodology from the outside to the inside (i.e. from publicly accessible web servers), because this way one can see how attackers carry out their attacks and what techniques they employ to compromise web applications.

Tips to improve WAPT results:

Penetration testing of web applications requires a lot of planning and preparation before you begin your testing. it is important to identify which technology is used in the target web application.

Some tools only support one type of web application technology, for example:

  • Paros supports PHP applications but does not support ASP based applications;
  • Acunetix WVS can automatically identify what type of application server (i.e. Apache or IIS) is running on machines based on Windows operating system, but does not do so for Linux boxes because they require manual configuration during the installation process, unlike Windows where everything is detected automatically.

Ariaa Reeds

Ariaa Reeds is a professional writer who curates articles for a variety of online publications. She has extensive writing experience on a wide range of topics including business, education, finance, travel, health and technology.

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