What is Web Application Penetration Testing?

Is your company in the process of developing a new application? There are a lot of moving parts involved in developing and deploying cutting-edge applications, whether they are internal apps designed for employee use or external, public-facing apps. 

In fact, your company may invest hundreds or thousands of hours designing and developing this new application — so it’s no wonder that once it’s ready for launch, you want to immediately use it.

But now it’s time to focus on your app’s security. Hackers are always hunting for ways to exploit flaws in apps' functionalities, stealing precious data or using it as a doorway into your network. Do you know whether your app can withstand cyberattacks? 

If you’re not sure, what you need is web application penetration testing to ensure your cybersecurity is resilient enough to withstand the amount of cyberattacks out there. 


What Is a Web Application?

A web application is any computer program that performs a specific function by using a web browser. While that sounds like a lot of tech jargon, it simply means a web app is an application that runs off of internet access on a web server. 

A computer-based software program, on the other hand, may run locally on one single device. Web applications are accessible through a web browser with a network connection, not just through one operating system.  

Why Are Web Applications Vulnerable?

According to a study done by Verizon in 2023, web applications are included in 92% of hacks for businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees and 85% for businesses with over 1,000 employees.

So, why are web apps so vulnerable to attacks, such as data breaches?

Well, for starters, web apps allow malicious software to spread very quickly due to the amount of people who access these applications. Additionally, other security-related weaknesses, such as inadequate or nonexistent firewalls, are often caused by errors in the app’s program, and are all too often used by bad actors as a foothold into a company’s private servers at large.


The Importance of Web Application Penetration Testing

A web application pentest is a manual scan of your application, meaning it will go beyond the automated scans to find any deeper vulnerabilities your network or systems may have.

It’s recommended to run a penetration test shortly after launching a new or recently updated web application every year. This is because new or heavily updated web apps are likely to have vulnerabilities not accounted for post-launch. An annual test from a professional team of pentesters acts as a preventative measure to detect flaws at every stage in a web application’s life cycle.


What To Expect During a Web Application Pentest

Web application penetrating testing has a very similar process to any other pentest.

Web app pentesters use software to screen your app for vulnerabilities. The difference between standard screenings you could find online and a professional pentest is that pentesters don’t just run the app through one tool and hand back an auto-generated report. Instead, they analyze those flaws and then try to exploit them to uncover the most amount of information possible. Pentesters use their expertise to try and break into your app’s private data and move through your wider network.

When you opt for web application penetration testing, you’re paying for the expertise of professional pentesters to attempt to breach your system. The testers will compile a penetration test report with the vulnerabilities they found, how they exploited them, and how they ultimately got in. From there, the testers make personalized recommendations for improving your security.

Types of Application Pentests

While there are different types of web application pentests, there are many options available that can help your business. In fact, here are two of the most common ones you can benefit from significantly.

Internal Web Application Penetration Testing: Tests any application that is only accessible from within the organization's network. Looking for vulnerabilities inside the firewall that a potential threat actor could exploit from the inside.

External Web Application Penetration Testing: Simulates external attacks on live websites or applications.


Threat Prevention Beyond the App

Caring about the security of your web application is undoubtedly important, but your organization could have vulnerabilities beyond your web app.

That’s why it’s crucial to learn about other cyber threats and how you can take preventive measures to protect your organization from catastrophic financial losses or reputational damage.

Learn how you can fortify your cybersecurity by downloading your copy of our 5-1/2 Easy Steps to Avoid Cyber Threats today!

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Topics: penetration testing

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