Web application security is often overlooked. Web vulnerability scanning needs to be part of the normal QA process when developing a web application. This is to ensure that an application is secure and safe, and also that the bugs and vulnerabilities are flagged as the security vulnerabilities that they are, not dismissing issues as minor concerns.
Software and web application development companies include testing or QA to ensure that the products they create work as expected and are bug-free. Larger software companies invest millions of dollars in software that automatically QAs and tests new app developments.
However, websites and web applications still get hacked. A white paper released in 2013 details web application vulnerabilities found in the administrator web interface of several security gateway devices that could be used to bypass the security device and gain administrative access. A remote code execution vulnerability that allows a malicious hacker to execute code on the victim’s web server was identified in two of the most popular WordPress caching plugins. These types of development mistakes continue to happen in 2023. Such errors make it easy for hackers to enter a vulnerable app, especially if testing has not flagged the bug as a serious error.
Web Application Functionality Tested, So Why Not Vulnerability?
Most software development companies do not have security testing procedures for apps that meet the same standard as those for platforms and software. Typically, when a developer adds a new button on a website, they follow documented procedures and test the functionality of the button. However, there are often no procedures to test the functionality behind the button to test its vulnerability. The reason this is missed is because of the separation of QA and testing that doesn’t create a crossover to identify and address any bugs, updates, fixes, and vulnerabilities.
Checking for Vulnerabilities in Web Applications during SDLC
Security testing of web applications and software should be included in the software development life-cycle (SDLC) along with standard QA testing. If a security vulnerability is found at a later development stage, or even after launch, costs of repair, or even litigation if the malfunction leads to hacking. Developers are expected to do unit testing when writing new code for a new function and the testing department should also test and confirm that the new function is secure and cannot be exploited.
While developers follow good security coding practices and use automated tools for software testing, web application security testing also needs to be elevated to the same standards to mitigate web application vulnerabilities.
Developers need to properly security audit all code. Through ethical hacking of an application, it is possible for the security of apps to be improved. For example, if an input field in a web application allows the user to enter their phone number, the developer restricts the input of such field to digits only. The testing department check that only digits can be entered and that the input data is stored in the right place. If, during testing, it is discovered that a special character or letter can be entered in the phone number field, this is a bug that indicates a security concern.
Automated Scanning for Web Application Vulnerabilities
QA teams can use an automated web application security scanner to detect vulnerabilities in code. Automated web application security scanners can detect vulnerabilities in web applications. The software helps the team detect vulnerabilities and helps developers to write more secure code. Automated web application security testing saves time and money. Not only does it improve the quality of the product, but it also improves overall online security which improves services for everyone.
Developing Secure Web Applications and Software
Software and application developers can never assume that a product is secure. Functionality, QA, and security testing need to intersect to improve the quality of web applications. Testing behind functionality, scanning code, and releasing updates and bug fixes before vulnerabilities are detected by nefarious actors is vital to the future of online security as it transitions to mobile devices, applications, and potential web 3 development.
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