Penetration Testing – Putting on the Hacker Hat

by | Mar 27, 2015 | AppSec Classroom

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Known by most in the industry as pentesting, penetration testing is the process of proactively running ethical attacks on an application in an effort to identify security weaknesses and to validate defense mechanisms.  These weaknesses may lead to access of an application’s functionality or to the data stored within the application. Pentesting is different from vulnerability scanning where testers simply find and report vulnerabilities.  The goal of pentesting is to put on the hat of malicious hackers and try to exploit an application to determine whether unauthorized access or other malicious activity is possible, without doing any harm. The recent uptick in security breaches on applications has dramatically increased the demand for penetration testing tools as well as pentest experts.  These breaches can come at a high price for an organization – not only negatively impacting the bottom line, but also threatening the company’s reputation.  Applications developers are not the only ones feeling the pressure to ensure their applications are secure; organizations of all sizes are taking precautions to safeguard the applications they use in their businesses and many industries are even requiring organizations to perform penetration tests on a regular basis as part of compliance audits. Pentests can be performed both manually and with automated technologies, such as Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools.  Once tests are performed, reports are generated and steps to remediation can be determined. Why is Pentesting Important? There are numerous reasons that penetration tests need to be performed on applications.  Some of the reasons include:

  • Identifying potential security threats resulting from holes in web applications
  • Prioritizing the identified weaknesses to help with the remediation process
  • Testing the viability of defense mechanisms designed to safeguard the application
  • Demonstrating the need for more IT staff or tools to help secure the application
  • Eliminating the costs of a security breach and application downtime
  • Meeting industry and/or governmental regulations and compliance requirements
  • Preventing potential loss of customers or decrease in customer loyalty typically associated with the breach of customer data

There is no question with the numerous security breaches that have taken place recently that penetration testing is a critical component of the application development process as well as the ongoing use of an app.  We are dealing with highly skilled criminals that make it their mission to hack into and break web applications. Conducting authorized attacks on your own applications on a regular basis is considered a best practice that enables you to keep up with these malicious and increasingly sophisticated attackers.

Code Dx recognizes penetration testing as a proven and valuable technique for application security.  With our Code Dx software assurance solution, we help organizations easily combine, normalize and prioritize the results of multiple application security testing tools and efficiently mitigate vulnerabilities.  Additionally, the Code Dx team has developed a free OWASP solution, called Code Pulse, to provide insight into real-time code coverage of penetration testing activities.  For more information on Code Dx, contact us at [email protected] or at (631) 759-3993. Download a Free Trial and Start Testing Your Code Today!

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