Today more and more web applications are introduced to the digital world regularly. Much effort is spent on developing the software and configuring the apps to work properly. However, a lot of effort is needed to keep the newly developed web applications secure from malicious attacks since they are developed to be publicly exposed to the internet.
There are two main aspects the web application penetration testing is focused on, that is environment and the setup. The process of testing consists of analyzing the public information about the web application and mapping the external (and in some cases internal) network that hosts it.
To perform the testing, there is quite a number of tools available for a penetration tester. All of them are aimed at finding an exploit and gaining access to the system. The list includes the following scanners and instruments: Burp Suite, Acunetix, Netsparker, Metasploit, Nessus, Hydra, and a set of Kali Linux tools to mention just a few.
At the same time, scanning is only a part of the reconnaissance of the system. Most of the job is done later manually by qualified penetration testers. It is here where the experience of a pen tester comes to the front and plays a crucial role in preventing a possible attack.
After finishing the scanning and manual tests, it is time to write a penetration testing report. The report should contain adequate evidence of the discovered data to support the findings and be as descriptive of the methods and found breaches as possible. It is advisable for a client to concentrate on the most critical issues discovered by the pentest as soon as possible. To facilitate the process, the report usually starts with the most critical issues that present a real danger to the system and the recommendation of how to fix them. Another approach is to divide the report into two, one for the executive staff of the company, and the other for technical specialists.
There are different types of vulnerabilities that may be detected by a penetration test. Some of them are possible with remote code execution, while others can be executed only after previous access to the internal system. Both of them should be treated with utmost attention by the remediation team.
Another important part of the penetration testing process is a re-test. This is a secondary pentest to make sure that all vulnerabilities are eliminated in the proper way. The industry standard period to take up a re-test is 90 days, however, this time can be shifted depending on the number of discovered vulnerabilities and the qualification of the technical team.
Today there are many instruments that can be used for penetration testing of a website. One can choose between a free open-source tool, a monthly subscription with an automated scanner, or a manual pentest performed by experienced professionals. In fact, a combination of the above-mentioned tools is a good option to keep to the best security standards.
Whatever approach is chosen, the goal is to effectively discover all the vulnerabilities web apps design and configuration may have to prevent hackers from finding and exploiting them.