Web applications are very alluring to enterprises. They provide user-friendly interfaces, quick access to valuable business resources and seamless deployment to remote users.
Unfortunately, for the same reason, web applications can be a major security threat to the enterprise. Even unauthorised users enjoy the same benefits of ‘user-friendliness,’ ‘quick,’ and ‘seamless’ access to critical business data, making your corporation most prone to serious security risks.
No one on the web is immune from security risks. In today’s race to build cutting-edge business solutions, web applications are developed and deployed with minimalist attention to security threats. No wonder why the number of corporate websites vulnerable to hacking is increasing at a rapid pace. Prominent sites from regulated industries like government, financial services, retail and healthcare are probed daily. Needless to say, the consequences of security breach are devastating: damage to credibility, loss of revenues, legal liabilities as well as loss of customer loyalty.
Therefore, highest standards of security should be the key highlight of your web application. In fact, effective security measures should be taken right from the web application development process. This is because if your application is not tested and validated against security threats right from the initial stages of development, it may fail to protect valuable corporate data and resources from malicious attacks.
Importance of Web Application Security Testing
Often, I come across web application developers and programmers who seamlessly overlook the importance of security testing during the development process. One question to them – by skipping the security testing phase, how do you do justice to the final product?
To build a highly secure web application, it is vital to work upon a security development lifecycle. Security is a key element that should be considered throughout the application development lifecycle, especially when it is designed to deal with critical business data and resources. Web application security testing ensures that the information system is capable of protecting the data and maintaining its functionality. The process encompasses analysing the application for its technical flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities, right from the design and development phase. The primary objective is to identify the potential risks and subsequently, fix them before final deployment.
Six important security concepts that should be considered during web application development phase are:
- Confidentiality: Vital data should be accessible only to authorised users
- Authentication: It helps establish the identity of the user
- Authorisation: To authorise the user, he/she need to perform an action or receive a service like OTP
- Integrity: The security measure allows the receiver to determine that the data is correct
- Availability: Communication and information should be readily available, as required
- Non-repudiation: It helps prevent later denial of an action that happened
The engineers who are responsible for web application security testing should be able to think like a creative hacker to predict the steps of security breach. For this, it is vital to understand the logic and specifications implemented in the application and identify all possible scenarios under which it can be cracked. This is a complex task but ensures that the final product is well-protected against potential security threats and vulnerabilities.