When a business experiences a data breach, things can get pretty stressful, not to mention expensive, especially with General Data Protection Guidelines (GDPR) in place. As such, businesses must do all they can to bolster their cybersecurity and keep their data safe.
This is where penetration testing (also known as pen testing) comes in, and more specifically, OWASP penetration testing.
But if you’re not sure what this is, don’t panic. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide. Below, we’re going to look at what OWASP penetration testing is before sharing a checklist for getting this method right.
Read on to find out more.
What is OWASP penetration testing?
Before we determine what OWASP penetration testing is and share the checklist with you, we first need to look at these two components separately.
OWASP stands for the Open Web Application Security Project which is an online community that creates freely available content in the field of web application security. For example, they create really useful articles, methodologies, tools and technologies that pretty much anyone can access.
A penetration test on the other hand, is a simulated cyber attack that your business takes against its own web applications to check for any vulnerabilities that cybercriminals might be able to exploit.
Combine the two and an OWASP penetration test is the assessment of web applications to highlight any vulnerabilities as outlined in the OWASP top ten guide.
This guide has been designed to help businesses identify and address any vulnerabilities in their web applications in the most effective way.
What are the benefits of using an OWASP penetration test?
There are several benefits of using an OWASP penetration test that can have a real impact on your business, particularly companies that develop web applications in-house or use apps developed by third parties. Some of the key benefits of this type of pen testing include:
- Identifying vulnerabilities and addressing these before cybercriminals can take advantage of them
- Massively reducing the risk of a data breach, as well as a huge fine and a damaged reputation
- Being able to provide a detailed overview of the effectiveness of your existing security controls. Something which might be required for GDPR and other data compliance regulations
- Offering cybersecurity insights that help your team to improve the development of new software, as well as quality assurance practices
- Supporting more informed decision-making about the cybersecurity efforts of the business as a whole
Keeping all of this in mind, you can see why it’s so important to get your OWASP penetration test right, which is where our checklist comes in.
The OWASP pen test checklist
There are several different steps that you need to take to conduct a successful OWASP penetration test. We’re going to look at these below so you can ensure you’re completing each one in full before checking it off the list.
The checklist looks something like this:
1. Gathering information
In order to start your penetration test, you first need to gather all possible information available to you regarding the infrastructure and web applications involved. This stage is crucial as without a complete understanding of the technology involved, you might find you miss important sections when testing.
2. Threat modelling
Once you’ve got all the information you need, it’s time to use this knowledge. The next step involves using this information to run tests on the various target systems and web applications, looking out for any obvious vulnerabilities.
Remember earlier when we mention the OWASP top 10 list? Well, this is where it comes into play. Some of the key vulnerabilities that an OWASP penetration testing can help you to identify include:
- Injection flaws
- Broken authentication
- Sensitive data exposure
- XML External Entities (XXE)
- Broken access controls
- Security misconfiguration
- Cross-site scripting (XSS)
- Insecure deserialisation
- Using components with known vulnerabilities
- Insufficient logging and monitoring
3. Exploiting vulnerabilities
The next stage is when the testers attempt to exploit any of the vulnerabilities that they have discovered from the list above. Even if the exploitation fails, this will give the tester a better understanding of the risks and how to better protect their cybersecurity.
However, if the exploitation works, this gives them a place to start making positive and important changes.
4. Re-assessing vulnerable applications and how they are performing
For any vulnerabilities that are uncovered, action must be taken right away.
So, for example, if your pen test highlights any programming errors, source code retrieval, weak passwords, unauthorised logins or any other weaknesses, this should be used to re-assess the overall understanding of the application and its performance.
Changes can then be made to bolster the company’s cybersecurity.
5. Retest any updated applications
Next, it is a good idea to retest any areas of your web application and security that you have now improved upon, so you can make sure these vulnerabilities are now fixed.
6. Deal with any accidental breaches
This is a very important step if, at any point during your testing, a vulnerability was detected, which may have then been successfully exploited by your team and disclosed any sensitive information. Particularly if a customer, client or third party is involved.
In these cases, you must go through and contact the relevant company or contact and let them know about the test and the vulnerabilities that have been detected and the risks involved.
7. Getting a strategy in place for the future
Finally, businesses need to make online security one of their top priorities and business goals. So armed with the data gathered from this pen test, you should get a strong plan in place for the overall cybersecurity strategy of the company.
Is it time you ran an OWASP penetration test?
By following these steps carefully, you can ensure a successful OWASP penetration test. This also means you can work hard on boosting your company’s cybersecurity efforts and reducing the risk of a data breach through a vulnerable web application.
So if you’re concerned about the current state of your security systems, don’t delay! Run a penetration test today so you can have peace of mind.