The Best Tools for Web Application Security Testing
Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog
Application security testing ensures the reliability and robustness of a web application. The tools needed for such testing, be it open-source or paid, should be able to identify the vulnerabilities and secure the application against malware attacks.
Digitization has made the world a small place where communication and exchange of information take place in the blink of an eye. The myriad advantages of the internet are not lost on anyone as individuals, groups, entities, enterprises, and governments are leveraging it to achieve their objectives. What used to be in the realm of science fiction a few decades back has become a definitive reality with digital interactivity taking the world to a different plane altogether. However, notwithstanding the advancements in the field of digitization and its benefits, the concurrent rise in cybercrime has become a matter of abject concern.
Not a single day passes when the spectre of cybercrime does not extract its pound of flesh. If we go by statistics then the global average cost of data breaches in 2019 amounted to $3.92 (Source: Statista). Also, the global cybersecurity market has been pegged at $140.2 billion in 2020, which is likely to earn revenue to the tune of $354.7 billion by 2027. These figures show the humongous impact of cybercrime on the global economy and how enterprises are rising to the challenge by investing in cybersecurity measures.
It has been observed that hackers using malware mostly exploit the inherent vulnerabilities in software. And mostly the vulnerabilities at the application layer lead to software breaches (around 84 percent.) To address the rising challenge of cybercrime and establish trust among the end-users, enterprises need to pursue application security testing rigorously. As per software security testing, various automation tools are in the offing to identify the glitches and vulnerabilities existing in a web application. And with hacking techniques becoming more sophisticated, web applications need to be secured by following comprehensive web app security testing.
Why application security testing?
It ensures the security of data and information present within a web application. A successful web application security testing exercise protects data against malicious threats and pre-empts situations like a data breach, system latency, and sudden application crashes, among others. It checks for the validation of procedures like authentication, authorization, availability, confidentiality, integrity, and non-repudiation. The objectives of conducting software application security testing are:
- Prevent inconsistent performance of the application
- Retain the trust of end-users
- Prevent the breach of important data and information
- Save the application from any unexpected failure or downtime
- Save costs towards fixing security issues
Top web application security testing tools
There are many open-source and paid security testing tools to identify the vulnerabilities or glitches in a web application. These should be chosen keeping in view the specific security challenges and business requirements.
Arachni: This open-source security testing tool is suitable for both penetration testers and admin. It is capable of identifying security issues such as local and remote file inclusion, SQL injection, invalidated redirect, and XSS injection. Being instantly deployable, this modular and high-performing tool is built on the Ruby framework and supports multi-platforms.
Klocwork: This static code analysis tool can check for reliability, security, and safety issues in programming languages such as C#, C, Java, and C++. It can be easily integrated with tools like Jenkins and Jira using specific plugins. It can analyze the source code in real-time, prolong the life of the software under test, and simplify peer code reviews.
SQLMap: The free to use automation tool can detect the presence of vulnerabilities in the form of SQL injections in the database of web applications. Its powerful testing engine is capable of identifying SQL injection techniques such as error-based, stacked queries, Boolean-based blind, UNION query, out-of-band, and time-based blind. It is often leveraged by the application security testing services and supports databases such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MySQL.
Grabber: Developed in Python, this lightweight security testing tool is capable of scanning web applications including individual websites and forums. It can uncover vulnerabilities like SQL injection, file inclusion, cross-site scripting, simple AJAX verification, and backup file verification. Among its highlights is its support for JS code analysis, portability, and the ability to generate a stats analysis file.
Nogotofail: This lightweight and easy-to-use network security testing tool can detect vulnerabilities related to TLS injection, SQL injection, MiTM attacks, and SSL certificate verification. Developed by Google, it can be set up as a router, VPN server, or proxy.
W3af: Developed on Python, this popular web application security testing tool can identify over 200 types of security issues such as blind SQL injection, cross-site scripting, buffer overflow, insecure DAV configurations, and CSRF, among others. Its key highlights include the availability of an intuitive GUI interface, support for authentication, easy to start, and the ability to generate output on a console, email, or file.
SonarQube: This open-source tool can be used to measure the quality of a web application’s source code. Written in Java, it can analyze the codes written in more than 20 programming languages. Easily integrated with CI tools like Jenkins, SonarQube can highlight issues in red (severe) or green (low-risk ones.) It offers both command prompt (for advanced users) and an interactive GUI (for new testers.) The vulnerabilities identified by this tool include HTTP response splitting, DoS attacks, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and memory corruption, among others.
Burp suite: This web application security testing tool can identify more than 100 vulnerabilities in the form of XSS, SQL injection, and Xpath injection, among others. It allows the scanning of an entire application or a specific segment of a website, or an individual URL. The tool offers custom advisories for all detected vulnerabilities including on their severity, file path, confidence type, etc.
Wapiti: This open-source security testing tool offers support for both POSTHTTP and GET type attack methodologies. It can expose vulnerabilities including file disclosure, database injection, CRLF injection, command execution detection, XSS injection, ssrf, or shellshock, among others.
# Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP): This open-source and multi-platform supporting security testing tool can find vulnerabilities in a web application. Written in Java, it can identify vulnerabilities such as private IP disclosure, cookie not HTTPOnly flag, application error disclosure, missing anti-CSRF tokens, and SQL and XSS injections, among others. With a rest-based API, the tool uses AJAX spiders and supports authentication.
The use of application security testing tools has become mandatory given the rising graph of cybersecurity issues. However, care must be taken to choose a tool that addresses the security testing requirements from both short and long term perspectives.
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