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What Are The Main Attributes Of Security Testing?

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By Author: Michael Wade
Total Articles: 67
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The advancements in digital technologies are matched by an increase in the incidences of cyber security. Threats from hackers are all-pervasive and it appears they can wreak havoc at their time and place of choosing. However, there are two sides to a coin. First, hackers seem to be one step ahead of software developers and have the technical wherewithal to break into the software architecture at will. On the other hand, most software applications are vulnerable to hacking as they have inadequate defences and do not mandatorily follow security testing in the SDLC.
The result of not performing application security testing by many enterprises shows in the form of rising incidences of data breach.

According to statistics, around 7 million data records are compromised each day taking the annual figure to 2.55 billion (Source: Varonis). Also, the world economy is going to cough up around $6 trillion annually by 2021 on account of cybercrime damages (Source: Cybersecurity Ventures.) These statistics are alarming enough for every stakeholder to strengthen the cybersecurity measures. No one can hide behind the thought that ‘we are too insignificant for the hackers to attack us’ anymore. So, in the ultimate analysis, it is finally a choice between creating and implementing an application security testing strategy or waiting for the hackers to play havoc. 

Why security testing?

It is a type of testing in the SDLC where testers aim at identifying flaws or vulnerabilities in the architecture of a software application. Security testing ensures the application remains protected from cyber-attacks and continues to perform the intended functionalities. The six basic elements to be covered by the security testing services include confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, authorization, resilience, and non-repudiation.

With an increase in online transactions using web portals and mobile applications, cyber intruders are on the lookout for vulnerabilities in software. Thus, a dynamic application security testing ensures potential vulnerabilities are identified and plugged before the application reaches the end-users. Further, any software security testing exercise can pre-empt the following possibilities:

Losing the trust of customers
Downtime and latency faced by the application or system resulting in not meeting the delivery schedules
Expenses on restoring services including taking backups etc
Additional cost incurred in making the application secure against future attacks
Legal suits filed by regulatory agencies, clients, or customers for not upholding adequate security measures

Types of security threats

There are many types of cyber security threats that hackers use to exploit the vulnerabilities in a web or mobile application.

SQL Injection: Malicious SQL statements are entered into an input field to get critical information from the database.

Privilege Elevation: Hackers use an account on the application to upgrade their privileges to a higher level.

Denial of Service (DoS): The hacker manipulates the system, application, or network to deny the availability of resources to legitimate users.

URL Manipulation: The process involves the manipulation of the URL query strings to capture critical information. It takes place when the application passes information between the client and server by using the HTTP GET method.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS): This type of vulnerability allows hackers to inject client-side script into pages to trick users into clicking on the URL.

Devising a security testing strategy

To plan, prepare, and implement dynamic application security testing in the SDLC, the following approach can be followed.

Understanding the security architecture: Begin with understanding the IT architecture, business requirements, threats, and security objectives of the organization. Every factor or requirement needed to ensure PCI compliance should be considered during the planning phase.

Analysis of security architecture: Analyze the application’s security requirements including the vulnerabilities.

Classification of testing: Get information about the software application and network in terms of their hardware configuration, operating systems, and technology used. Thereafter, classify the security risks and vulnerabilities based on the aforementioned elements.

Threat modelling: Prepare a threat profile of the application based on the information collected for classification (mentioned above.)

Planning for the test: After identifying the vulnerabilities and security threats, prepare a test plan and traceability matrix to address them.

Selecting a tool: Test automation becomes critical to identify glitches or flaws, which otherwise cannot be done manually. To execute the test cases quickly, a reliable testing tool should be chosen.

Test case execution: Execute the test cases including the regression ones to identify defects, quickly, accurately, and consistently.

Documentation: Study the test reports generated by the test automation tool to understand the vulnerabilities, risks, open issues, and threats.


Security testing has become a critical requirement in the DevSecOps-led model of software development. It ensures the identification (and subsequent fixing) of vulnerabilities or security-related risks in any software application. It also enforces software applications’ adherence to established security protocols.

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