Imagine this: A thriving startup, after months of hard work, finally launches its flagship app. Within weeks, it gains traction, but suddenly, a data breach exposes sensitive customer information. Trust plummets overnight, and so does the user base. The culprit? Neglected security testing—a critical yet overlooked step in development.

Developing a mission-critical app demands top-notch security, especially when handling crucial business or sensitive customer data. The foundation of customer trust isn’t just about offering great products and a strong UI; it’s fundamentally built on robust security.

Transitioning from vulnerable to vigilant means nailing security testing from the get-go.

Neglecting security testing invites threats, making your app a target for hackers. Prioritize security testing to shield your product from both internal and external threats.

Our blog dives into the essentials of security testing, covering methods, timing, and success metrics. Learn how to effectively secure your application against all vulnerabilities.

Myth: Smaller businesses in non-finance sectors don’t need security testing

There are plenty of myths when it comes to security testing, and that’s a particularly pernicious one. The fact is that no matter the size of your business or the nature of your software and application, you need security testing. Every app contains confidential data and user information, whether or not it’s a banking or finance app. For that reason, security testing is critical for every application, regardless of its niche.

That’s because advanced, optimized security testing is the only way to thoroughly protect your projects. After all, prevention is better than cure! You’re better off investing in security testing than desperately unplugging your systems after an attack. Even a single ignored threat can take down the entire functionality and data of an application.

Security testing exposes any potential vulnerability or threat, as well as gaps that could give rise to new threats.

How do you security test your application?

There’s a number of methods and methodologies that are suitable for the security testing process. The strategy varies based on the development stage of your product. Here’s a few.

SAST: Early stages of development

SAST (Static Application Security Testing) is used to detect flaws in the source code in the early stages of development. The tester accesses the source code to utilize SQL injection, buffer overflow and XXEs to check the strength of the application. Early detection of flaws leads to overall reduced development time and better application security.

Pros:

  • Faster code analysis than a human
  • Real-time flaw detection
  • Any-time testing – doesn’t need to wait for completion of the app
  • Potential for automation

Cons:

  • Might not be compatible with all the languages
  • Might not work well with libraries or frameworks
  • Doesn’t check argument values

DAST: Deeper testing, post SAST

Once your application has passed through SAST, DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) is the next step. The tester throws automated attacks on the application while it is running. These automated tests perform all kinds of test cases to check where and how the app can be compromised. Since DAST does not provide access to the source code, the tester mimics the behavior of an external hacker.

DAST goes deeper than SAST and catches authentication and encryption issues. It also tests for API and web app errors.

Pros:

  • No language dependency
  • Complete application check
  • Cross-site scripting and cookie manipulation to find flaws
  • Vulnerability checks in third-party interfaces
  • Good understanding of arguments

Cons:

  • Does not identify flaws in the code
  • More expensive to fix vulnerabilities post development
  • More false positives

IAST: Hybrid testing method (SAST+DAST)

Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST) is a hybrid testing method that combines SAST and DAST. It stays implemented on the backend, gathers information about the app’s behavior, and reports any possible issues.

Pros:

  • Integration with CI/CD tools
  • Real-time results
  • Detailed information about the code location and vulnerabilities
  • Effective for API testing
  • More accurate results

Cons:

  • Dependency on vendor partner
  • Limited language support
SAST DAST IAST
White box testing method: Allows access to source code Black box testing method: No access to source code Gray testing method: Tests in real-time
Tests the entire application from the inside Testing takes place from outside (also known as hacker testing) Runtime analysis to provide the accuracy
Used in the early stages of the development cycle Useful once the code is compiled Performed during Test and QA stages of the SDLC
More cost-effective method as flaws detected in the early stages More expensive as flaws are detected later in the development cycle Most expensive
Works on all kinds of applications Only for web applications Both web and phone applications

RASP

There’s one more testing method you need to know about – Runtime Application Self Protection (RASP). This one’s a bit different from the testing methods we discussed above. Businesses use it to ensure the security of their product once it’s running on the users’ devices, rather than during the development process.

RASP provides reports on inward and outward traffic, testing the overall behavioral pattern of your audience. This implementation lets you detect unusual patterns and prevent possible security attacks.

How does security testing help?

Here’s a few common issues that testing can catch, and how to fix them.

1. Code or configuration vulnerability on server side: Disable automated scripts to your APIs, to prevent easy attacks.

2. Damaging data from client side through Injections: Set permitted values, check with regex for characters like “.” or “*”.

3. Insecure or local storage of sensitive data: Encrypt key data with stronger protocols.<

4. Hardcoding of passwords and credentials: Use a password management tool and scan your passwords once in a while.

5. Compromised source code security:Store source code securely, give access carefully, and use app security testing tools to scan your code regularly.

6. Third-party vulnerabilities: Do not store sensitive data in the cache.

7. Poorly encrypted data: Use certificate validation and protocols like SSL or TLS; encrypt data before transmission.

8. Weak passwords: Set conditions for users to set strong passwords and enable 2FA or MFA.

9. Insufficient monitoring and logs: Use a tool to log and monitor all aspects of your application including UI response, launch time, crashes, etc.

10. No expiration of login session: Prompt to re-authenticate if a session remains inactive for a time.

How do you know if your security testing was successful?

It’s important to know if your security testing is working, before you depend on it. But how do you test the testing process? You now know which testing methods you need to use, and when, per application development stage. Once you’ve executed your testing process and methodology, test your application using these metrics:

1. Vulnerability Count: This metric presents you with the total number of vulnerabilities found in a system. It gives you a general view of how compromised the security status is.

2. Vulnerability Severity: Once you have found the vulnerabilities, you need to know which one to resolve first. This metric helps you prioritize vulnerabilities based on their severity.

3. False Positive Rate: It’s possible that while testing out the systems, you might come across some false alarms. This metric identifies them and tells you which you don’t need to address.

4. Exploitable Vulnerabilities: With this metric, you uncover all the vulnerabilities that can harm the system, by causing a security breach.

5. Time to Remediate: This helps you calculate the overall time it takes to fix the found vulnerabilities.

6. Recurrence Rate: In a flawed system, the same weakness may be found again. This metric indicates if past issues arise again.

7. Code Coverage: This metric calculates the total range of code that has been tested for vulnerabilities. The more code you can cover, the better!

8. Patch Latency: How long does it take to implement security patches once they are released? Patch latency provides the answer.

So, do you need security testing?

The answer is a resounding YES. If you don’t want hackers and attackers to intrude and steal your information, you need to test your application for security. Software security testing reduces downtime and increases overall efficiency. So test it, find potential menaces, and keep your tools safe.

Rely on a professional testing service provider to secure your application and its data. At Ziffity Solutions, we analyze your application and protect it at every single stage of the SDLC. We’re happy to keep you updated throughout the process, while eliminating all possible risks.

Get in touch with our experts in security testing to keep your tech safe, from the start of the development process to full public rollout and beyond. Contact us today.