Getting Started with Security Testing

While learning about software testing, you will discover several ways of performing tests on a piece of software – for example, accessibility testing, functional testing, performance testing, regression testing, security testing, etc. Each type ensures that the software functions properly before being released to users.

What is Security Testing

Security testing is one of the most critical aspects of software functionality. It spots and records a product’s vulnerabilities, flaws, and dangers to avoid intruder attacks. Additionally, it prevents leaks of information, financial loss, and repercussions on an organization’s reputation and its employees. Security attacks can also affect average users as they may cause personal information leaks and financial loss, among other threats. 

Most often, these threats can take the form of: 

Malware or Malicious Software: programs designed to steal information; 

Phishing: redirection of victims’ browser to a website controlled by a hacker;

Spyware: malicious software that infiltrates the system to monitor information such as emails, chats, browsing terms and search history, accessing passwords and personal data;

Adware: malware that displays unwanted ads on your computer, from which hackers can benefit financially;

Spam: receiving unsolicited emails that may contain viruses (such as the malware types previously mentioned).

To avoid such issues from causing harm to users, security testing aims to spot potential threats that generate security risks hidden within the system. Once identified, these threats are passed down to the developer team to deal with them through coding.

Types of Security Testing

There are 7 types of Security Testing. They guide us to remediate the threats discovered. 

1. Vulnerability Scanning: the starting point in identifying existing security risks: automated and manual tools are used to scan the system. 

2. Security Scanning: using both manual and automated tools, it provides an in-depth analysis of identified threats and solutions for each of them. 

3. Penetration testing: manually simulating a security attack to verify the strengths and weaknesses of a system against external hacking. It exposes unknown vulnerabilities that might have escaped previous scans.

4. Risk Assessment: the security threats identified so far will be assessed by measuring the risks involved: Low, Medium, and High.

5. Security Auditing: the system, software, or app is reviewed against existing security standards while assessing the security of physical configurations, operating systems, user practices, etc.

6. Ethical hacking: with the help of various hacking methods and a process more complex than penetration testing, ethical hacking exposes security flaws at a deeper level through a hacking simulation from within the software.

7. Posture Assessment: the last type of security testing is a combination of Security Scanning, Ethical Hacking, and Risk assessment that analyses an organization’s or product’s entire security system. 

The Advantages of Security Testing

→ identifies security threats and vulnerabilities in software at the surface level as well as a deeper level;

→ prevents leaks of personal information, data, and financial loss;

→ protects an organization’s assets against intruder attacks;

→ diminishes the security threats within the software system;

→ ensures compliance with current security standards and regulations

Prerequisites

First of all, you have to be familiar with the basics of either manual or automation testing. Knowledge of security standards, methodologies, and terminology is also needed. 

We recommend completing a technical course for beginners, such as online courses for Penetration Testing or Ethical Hacking.

Also, keeping up-to-date with security terminology will help you discover present threats and vulnerabilities. For more information, check OWASP Top Ten for the latest security terms. 

Getting Started 

Here are some examples of testing scenarios where Security Testing would be necessary:

  • Passwords should be encrypted
  • Invalid users shouldn’t be allowed in an application
  • The back button shouldn’t function for financial-oriented sites.

We start the Security Testing process by checking that requirements were met through Security Analysis. Next, we can create a test plan for our software or application to perform the security tests.  

To conduct unit testing, White Box Testing is used to spot security issues at a unit level within the design and code. Only then can we move to integration testing of various units. 

In this case, Black Box Testing is employed. The software or application is tested without prior knowledge of code structure or internal workings, acting similarly to an outside attacker. 

Through these two types of testing, we can find vulnerabilities from within and outside the software. 

To thoroughly test the software system at a surface level, Black Box Testing is paired with Vulnerability scanning against known threats. Vulnerability testing is also paired with Penetration testing to simulate an attack scenario on the system. 

The final step is a  Security Impact Analysis: determining if the fixed threats are likely to cause new vulnerabilities and which tools would be appropriate to fix them. 

To learn more about security testing and other tools that will help you throughout the process, check out these guides and our services page, which includes Security Testing

You can also find other beginner-friendly guides on our blog!