The security of your data is just as vital as its value. Phil Letheren, Senior Tester shares best practices for security testing.
Security testing is a specialised area that focuses on evaluating the security features and vulnerabilities of a software application or system. Different types of testers can be involved in security testing, depending on the scope and complexity of the project.
The specific type of tester involved in security testing will depend on the organisation’s resources, the complexity of the application, and the level of security required. In many cases, a combination of distinct types of testers and testing methods is employed to assess and improve the security of software and systems comprehensively.
Here are some common types of testers who may perform security testing:
- Security Testers: These testers are specialists in security testing. They have expertise in various aspects of cybersecurity and are well-versed in identifying vulnerabilities and assessing the security posture of applications. They perform tasks such as penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security code reviews. Examples could be the developers reviewing code for compliance with security best practices, such as input validation and data encryption. We assist insurance clients with relevant regulations like GDPR, along with recommendations for remediation, such as data anonymisation.
- Quality Assurance (QA) Testers: QA testers who have received additional training and certification in security testing can also be involved in security testing activities. They can perform basic security checks and report issues to security specialists for further investigation. We regularly online tools to detect security vulnerabilities, for example checking the correct SSL, security headers and cookies are in place.
- Penetration Testers (Pen Testers): Penetration testers are experts in simulating cyberattacks to identify vulnerabilities in a system. They actively attempt to exploit weaknesses and provide detailed reports on their findings. Pen testers often have a deep understanding of hacking techniques and tools. For example, they can use various tools to scan the target for open ports and services, this helps identify potential entry points for an attacker. We plan and fix any vulnerabilities that have been identified.
- Ethical Hackers: Ethical hackers, are individuals who are hired to legally and ethically test the security of a system by attempting to hack into it. They use their knowledge and skills to find vulnerabilities and help organisations strengthen their security measures. For example, Ethical hackers gather information about the target, such as IP addresses, domain names, employee names, and any publicly available data. We also plan and fix any vulnerabilities that have been identified here.
- Automated Security Testing Tools: In addition to human testers, various automated security testing tools are available that can scan applications for known vulnerabilities, configuration errors, and other security issues. Testers or security professionals often use these tools to complement manual testing efforts. For example, automated security testing tools can perform dynamic analysis by sending various HTTP requests and analysing responses to find potential security issues, such as injection attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). Also, a tool can scan networks to identify open ports, active services, and potential network-level vulnerabilities, such as missing patches or weak encryption protocols. We were able to address potential security complications within highly regulated sectors such as insurance.
Identifying and mitigating security risks in software, including websites, is crucial for several reasons, and having a dedicated test team for this purpose is essential. Here’s why:
- Protecting Sensitive Data
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance
- Reputation and Trust
- Financial Impact
- Competitive Advantage
- Proactive Risk Management
- Evolving Threat Landscape
- Complexities of Web Applications
In summary, a dedicated team for identifying and mitigating security risks in software testing, especially for websites, is essential to protect sensitive data, ensure legal and regulatory compliance, maintain a positive reputation, minimise financial impact, gain a competitive edge, proactively manage risks, adapt to evolving threats, and navigate the complexities of modern web applications.
What tools can people use to capture security vulnerabilities so testers can get started?
If a new business process or website is set up as part of the project, for example, a significant update to a web application or for new URLs, a selection of security tests can be conducted if available on a public domain to capture security vulnerabilities to bring to the project’s attention.
Website administrators and security professionals use SSL Labs to gain insights into the security posture of their websites and to identify and address potential security weaknesses.
Website administrators and developers use SecurityHeaders.com to ensure that their web applications are following best practices for web security.
By checking for the presence of these flags in cookie response headers, web developers and security professionals can ensure that their web applications are following security best practices to protect user data and prevent security vulnerabilities. It is a key step in maintaining the security and privacy of web users.
Security testing is a critical aspect of software development and maintenance that focuses on identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in software applications and systems to protect against security threats and breaches. Various types of testers and professionals are involved in security testing to ensure the security and integrity of software. Security testing is crucial to maintaining user trust, compliance with regulations, and protection against evolving cyber threats.
Are you thinking about enhancing your existing system or seeking to create secure custom software? Reach out to us now to discuss your needs.