Web Application Security Testing Checklist: 10 Key Verifications

    Key Takeaways

  • Follow these 10 essential checkpoints for web app security testing, to ensure robust protection and enhance the security.
  • Testing input validations is more effective than relying solely on automated scanners.
  • Regular manual checks, including source code reviews and network traffic analysis, are essential for comprehensive web app security testing.

Is your web application security a top priority?

Protecting your web applications from cyber threats is important.

As custom web app development service providers, we understand the significance of security. That’s why our comprehensive web application security testing checklist serves as your ultimate guide to conducting thorough security assessments.

With clear explanations, this user-friendly checklist helps QA and security professionals to strengthen application security. By referring to our blog and using this checklist, you can enhance your web application security and build trust among your users.

Let’s get started.

10 Essential Checks for Web Application Security Testing

Here is a comprehensive checklist in chronological order that makes your web app security testing efficient,

  1. Gather Information on Important Assets

    Gathering relevant information about the web application and its infrastructure is crucial for effective security testing. This includes:

    • Identifying the technologies, frameworks, and programming languages used in the web application.
    • Collecting information about the hosting infrastructure, such as IP addresses, web server types, and network architecture.
    • Understanding the organization’s digital assets, including remote access nodes employees use in different locations.

    By gathering this information, you can develop a targeted testing framework and identify potential vulnerabilities specific to the application’s environment.

  2. Develop and Secure Your Web Application

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  3. Define Web App Security Testing Objectives

    Begin by defining clear objectives for your web app security testing. These objectives will guide your testing efforts and help prioritize areas of focus. Some key objectives may include:

    • Identifying code vulnerabilities and configurational issues.
    • Testing the effectiveness of sensitive data access authentication mechanisms.
    • Assessing the security measures to protect sensitive information.
    • Ensuring the use of secure coding practices.
    • Evaluating the application’s resilience against attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and through penetration testing.
    • Staying compliant with industry standards and regulations.
    • Being proactive in preparing for web application development.

    Defining these objectives, including incorporating penetration testing, sets the direction for the testing process and helps prioritize areas of focus.

  4. Test Input Validations for Better Security

    Input validations are crucial for your web app security because it helps in ensuring the user data provided is secure and does not have malicious content. Most of the inputs are form fields and critical user data essential for transactions on a web app.

    Here are some critical steps to test input validation for your web application,

    • Identify all the user input fields in the web app, including text fields, drop-down menus, and fields that allow uploading of the file.
    • Simulate input data, perform data validation testing, and test each field, including valid, invalid, and malicious information. For example, test your text boxes with different sets of texts, special characters, and random strings of alphanumeric input.
    • Test the response of your web application for different types of input data. Web apps must provide clear error messages when there is something wrong with user input with a solution for fixing the problem.
    • Leverage automated scanners to identify and exploit critical vulnerabilities in the web app to understand their impact.
    • Perform regular manual checks, including a review of the source code, network traffic analysis, and testing authorization mechanism.

    By thoroughly testing input validations, you can enhance the security of your web application. Once the testing is completed and your web app is deployed, you need to enhance your web application by following the top web app security practices. Want to know more about best practices for web app security? Here is a blog that outlines a complete guide to web app security practices. From this guide you will know you will have knowledge of which top practices you should implement for securing web applications.

  5. Test the Authentication Mechanisms

    Testing the authentication mechanism involves understanding the underlying technology, identifying critical assets, and testing the mechanism for specific vulnerabilities.

    Here are crucial steps to test authentication mechanisms for your web application,

    • Understand the underlying technology. For example, if you are deploying a multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanism, understand the added layer of security, which it offers, and how you will implement it for your web application.
    • There are multiple ways to deploy, like two-factor authentication or single sign-on (SSO). Therefore, if you are using 2FA, there will be an extra layer of protection where users need to authenticate their data access through a passphrase or malicious code on the user’s device.
    • Test whether user login credentials are transported over the encryption channel or not.
    • Do not use default credentials regularly, as they are prone to cyberattacks.
    • Ensure enhanced user experience by checking whether a system locks out any user due to a specific number of failed login attempts.
    • Check if there is any way around the authentication where attackers cannot bypass authorization.
    • Test if a browser cache can bypass the authentication process and if the “remember password” feature does not erroneously store user credentials.
    • Check if the web app authentication mechanism enforces the strong password policy for user input.

    By thoroughly testing the authentication bypass test, you can enhance the overall security of your web application.

  6. Ensure Optimal Session Management

    Consistent session management for your web application enables you to ensure that user data is secure while interacting with the app.

    Here are crucial steps to test session management,

    • Examine the structure of session IDs and contents to ensure they are properly generated and securely stored.
    • Check the creation and management of cookies and session tokens for secure handling.
    • Test the handling of session IDs upon logging in and out of the web application.
    • Assess the web application’s security against session hijacking attempts by simulating the theft of users’ session IDs.
    • Verify the implementation of session timeouts and revocation mechanisms.
    • Evaluate how the web application handles sessions when users log in from different devices.

    By conducting thorough session testing, you can enhance the security and privacy of user sessions within the web application.

  7. Test Your Web App for Secure Communications

    To ensure a secure user experience, web app security testing for communications between web server and the browser is essential. When a user interacts with your web application, the browser establishes secure communication with the server. If not, hackers can execute MITM attacks to steal sensitive information.

    Here are some steps to test secure communications in your web app,

    • Test SSL/TLS vulnerabilities by conducting tests that identify weaknesses in the HTTPS protocol implementations. This includes also checking SSL certificates, which may be up for renewals or have weak encryptions.
    • Ensure to have valid certificates. You must ensure that your web apps are signed properly. Here, the app signing process can be done with a code-signed certificate. The certificate should be purchased from a reputed SSL provider or certificate authority. You can choose from multiple options, including Sectigo Code Signing cert, DigiCert Code Signing Certificate, and Comodo Code Signing Certificate.
    • Test your systems for MITM attacks by vulnerability scanning. It involves attempting an attack on the communication between the browsers and the web servers by simulating data theft.
      Ensure server-side security measures are functional by testing sessions, authentications, and more.

    By testing and ensuring secure communications, you can protect sensitive information transmitted between the server and the user’s browser.

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  9. Perform Security Headers and SSL/TLS Testing

    Validate the implementation of security headers and the proper configuration of SSL/TLS protocols to enhance the security of your web application. Consider the following steps:

    • Test the implementation of security headers such as Content Security Policy (CSP), Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS), and X-Frame-Options to protect against cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site tracing, clickjacking, and other common attacks.
    • Verify that SSL/TLS certificates are correctly installed and properly configured to ensure secure communication between the web server and clients.
    • Assess the implementation of encryption algorithms, certificate validity, and other SSL/TLS-related configurations to prevent vulnerabilities like weak ciphers, expired certificates, or misconfigured protocols.

    By following this comprehensive web application security testing checklist, you can identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities, enhancing the overall security of your web application. It is important to adapt this checklist to your specific application and incorporate additional testing techniques and tools as needed. Regularly assess and update your security measures to stay ahead of evolving threats and ensure the ongoing protection of your web application and its users’ data.

  10. Test for Injection Attacks

    Injection attacks, such as SQL injection and OS command injection, are common vulnerabilities that can have severe consequences if not adequately addressed. To ensure the robust security of your web application, it is crucial to test and mitigate these risks.

    • Insert SQL commands into input fields to check if the application properly sanitizes the input and prevents unauthorized database access. For example, inserting ‘ OR 1=1 — as input in a login field and validating that it doesn’t bypass the authentication process.
    • Inject malicious commands into input fields that execute operating system commands to verify that the application properly handles and sanitizes user input. For instance, appending; rm -rf / to an input field and checking if the application rejects or neutralizes the command.

    By thoroughly testing and addressing the risks of injection attacks, such as SQL injection and OS command injection, you can significantly enhance the security of your web application.

  11. Assess Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

    Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a widespread vulnerability that enables attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users. To safeguard your web application, it is essential to conduct thorough XSS vulnerability assessments.

    • Insert script tags with JavaScript code into input fields to check if the application properly sanitizes and escapes user input to prevent the execution of malicious scripts. For example, injecting <script>alert(‘XSS’);</script> as input in a comment field and verifying that the application displays the input as plain text instead of executing the script.
    • Assess various contexts, such as URLs, form fields, or display content, to ensure that all areas of the application are protected against XSS attacks. For instance, injecting a script in a URL parameter and checking if the application properly sanitizes the input to prevent script execution.
  12. Ensure Secure HTTP Configuration

    Proper configuration of the HTTP protocol is crucial for maintaining the security of your web application. Consider the following steps to enhance HTTP security:

    • Enable secure HTTP headers such as HTTP Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS) to ensure that communication with the web application occurs over a secure HTTPS connection.
    • Implement secure cookie attributes, such as Secure and HttpOnly, to protect against cross-site scripting (XSS) and session hijacking attacks.
    • Configure secure HTTP methods to restrict unauthorized access to sensitive resources. For example, disable or restrict access to HTTP methods like TRACE and OPTIONS, which can expose sensitive information.

Implement secure redirection practices to prevent open redirects and phishing attacks.
Regularly review and update the HTTP configuration based on best practices and the latest security guidelines.

By ensuring a secure HTTP configuration, you can enhance the overall security controls of your web application and protect against various common vulnerabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Web Application Security Testing

Why is web app security testing important?

  • Protects sensitive data: Ensures that user data and confidential information are safeguarded against unauthorized access.
  • Prevents unauthorized access: Identifies vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized entry into the application.
  • Safeguards against attacks: Helps detect and mitigate common security threats such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF).
  • Maintains business reputation: Demonstrates a commitment to security, fostering trust among authorized users, and protecting the reputation of the organization.

What are some common security vulnerabilities tested in web apps?

Some of the common security vulnerabilities are listed below.

  • SQL Injection: Exploits improper handling of SQL queries, allowing attackers to manipulate or extract data from databases.
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): Allows attackers to inject malicious scripts into web pages viewed by other users.
  • Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF): Tricks users into unknowingly performing unwanted actions on a web application.
  • Insecure Direct Object References: Exposes sensitive information or resources by directly referencing them without proper access security controls.
  • Authentication and Session Management Flaws: Tests for weaknesses in user authentication, password policies, session handling, access controls, and potential vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to gain access to the system.
  • Inadequate Input Validation: Identify vulnerabilities resulting from improper validation and sanitization of user input.

What are some popular tools used for web application security testing?

Listed below are some of the popular tools used for web application security testing.

  • Burp Suite: Comprehensive platform for scanning, testing, and identifying vulnerabilities in web applications.
  • OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy): Open-source tool for finding security vulnerabilities, focusing on automated scanning and manual testing.
  • Nessus: Widely used vulnerability scanner that identifies security issues in web apps and networks.
  • Acunetix: Web vulnerability scanner that detects and reports vulnerabilities, including SQL injection and XSS.
  • Qualys Web Application Scanner: Cloud-based solution for detecting and securing vulnerabilities in web applications.

How often should web application security testing be conducted?

Web application security testing should be conducted regularly and integrated into the software development lifecycle. It is recommended to perform security testing before deploying the application to production, after updates or changes, and periodically (such as annually or semi-annually) to ensure ongoing protection against emerging vulnerabilities.

What is the difference between manual and automated web application security testing?

Manual testing provides human expertise, in-depth analysis, and the ability to identify complex vulnerabilities. On the other hand, automated tests offer speed, scalability, and the ability to quickly identify common vulnerabilities. A combination of both approaches, known as hybrid testing, is often employed to leverage the strengths of each method and achieve comprehensive web application security testing.

Enhance Your Web App Security with this Testing Checklist

In this blog, we have provided you with a comprehensive penetration testing checklist for web application security testing. By following these guidelines, you can systematically assess and address potential vulnerabilities, protect user data, and mitigate security risks.

At Space-O Technologies, we understand the critical importance of web application security. Our team of experts follows industry best practices and employs comprehensive security testing techniques to ensure the protection of our web applications. Contact us today to strengthen the security of your web applications

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.