What Is Security Testing?  A Simple Guide

Written By Alla Levin
May 18, 2020
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What Is Security Testing? A Simple Guide

The objective of security testing is to identify the threats in the system and measure its vulnerabilities.

Discover the complete guide to security testing here.

Security testing is a form of software testing aimed at detecting system threats and vulnerabilities.

The purpose is not only to identify but also to thwart threats that encroach on your IT perimeter.

These threats can compromise your finances, information, and good reputation. As you can see, a lot is at stake.

And don’t think you can forgo security policies and practices just because you’re too small to be on anyone’s radar.

Also, splurging on the latest security tools isn’t enough to make your organization bulletproof.

Understanding security and how you can gauge it is the first step to take.

This kind of awareness holds key to keeping malicious attacks and intruders at bay.

So, here is what you need to know about the concept of security testing and how it plays out.

Testing the Digital Waters

Security testing is a tried and true practice at the core of modern cybersecurity.

The number of threats lurking around the internet has never been higher. To make things worse, their severity is escalating.

To have a real fighting chance against this plight, you have to embrace security testing.

The idea is simple. You analyze the software environment in order to find potential loopholes and weaknesses.

Some of them originate from the outside while others stem from internal errors and malfunctions.

One of the chief goals is to safeguard sensitive and precious assets such as data.

Namely, you want to make sure it stays confidential. Apart from confidentiality, the goal is to preserve:

  • Integrity
  • Authentication
  • Authorization
  • Availability
  • Non-Reputation

Other resources to prioritize for testing are system software, networks, client-side apps, security mechanisms, and server-side apps.

There are almost infinite ways to break and jeopardize them.

Therefore, you’ll have to cover a lot of ground with your security testing game.

Major Types of Security Testing

Open Source Security Testing Manual distinguishes between seven different types of testing.

These are:

  • Security Scanning
  • Vulnerability Scanning
  • Risk Assessment
  • Security Auditing
  • Penetration Testing
  • Ethical Hacking
  • Posture Assessment

It’s worth explaining some of these practices in a bit more detail.

Vulnerability scanning employs automated tools to investigate the system for any loophole signatures.

Security scanning does something similar—it assesses system and network weaknesses. At the same time, this practice has a prescriptive component, as it seeks for risk-minimizing solutions.

Next off, penetration testing simulates what would happen in the wake of an attack. It showcases how an external hacker could take advantage of the software’s weak points.

Similarly, we have ethical hacking, a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with penetration testing. This tactic is supposed to uncover flaws, report on them, and update hack-preventing efforts.

Security auditing entails internal inspection of operating systems, code, and apps. Again, the objective is to bring security flaws to light.

As for posture assessment, it builds on the foundations set by security scanning and ethical hacking. It defines the overall security posture of the company is.

Taking a Look at the SDLCTaking a Look at the SDLC

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to see how one goes about security testing.

First of all, it’s highly advisable to integrate testing into the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). You also want to start doing this as early in the cycle as possible.

If you wait for software implementation or deployment to finish, the costs of testing go up.

So, recognize how practices fit the big SDLC picture.

For instance, the requirements stage is an ideal moment to engage with security analysis. You can examine various misuse and abuse cases.

On the other hand, software design warrants a risk assessment and a proper Testing Plan.

Notice this document needs to contain a few vital components:

  • Security testing data
  • Tools for conducting testing
  • Test cases and scenarios
  • Review of test outputs related to different tools

Moving on, in the implementation stage, you should be doing penetration testing and vulnerability scanning.

Coding and unit testing include White Box Testing, while integration testing calls for Black Box Testing.

Once support gets underway, you have to focus on analyzing the impact of patches.

A Set of Surefire TechniquesA Set of Surefire Techniques

Specific testing procedures come in many shapes and forms.

These are the common techniques worth noting:

  • Tiger Box
  • Black Box
  • Grey Box

Tiger Box is performed on laptops and improves penetration testing via OS and hacking tools. In other words, it allows you to conduct an evaluation of attacks and weaknesses with more efficiency.

Black Box lets testers closely examine network topology, as well as underlying technologies.

This method works from inside out and puts overall design, defenses, and controls to the test.

Gray Box provides testers with partial system information and its internal workings. It’s a mesh of white and black box models, which revolves around software debugging.

Note that the list of security techniques goes on. It encapsulates Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Security Misconfiguration, Sensitive Data Exposure, etc. So, feel free to explore further on your own.

Implement a multitude of different security layers, not just one or two.

If you need assistance with your strategy, get in touch with security experts and consultants.

View more information on this site and find out how to employ the right tools, procedures, and techniques.

Kick Your Security Testing Into OverdriveKick Your Security Testing Into Overdrive

In this day and age, it’s imperative to repel external attacks that could lay waste to your organization.

Your best bet is to take a holistic approach to security testing and align it with your SDLC. Start by getting familiar with various methodologies and techniques for carrying out testing.

Identify resources and data points that are under most risk.

Tool up properly—a combo of automated tools and human ingenuity should do the trick.

Play around the system and study it as a malicious hacker would. Discover the weak links and make appropriate upgrades.

Following these steps, you should be able to sustain desired functionalities and prevent the apps and networks from getting exploited.

I hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Browse our tech section to discover more interesting topics and insights. Knowledge is the essence of true power in the information era.

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