Application Penetration Testing

Application penetration tests are one of the four main types of penetration testing, along with network, physical, and IoT/Mobile tests. The objective of this test is to identify vulnerability exploits in your applications that could lead to vulnerable vectors for an attacker to exploit for some nefarious purpose 

In the world of cyber security, application penetration tests point out some of the most common vulnerabilities for a company. This is because your web-based applications are both globally accessible and easily duplicated, so the difference between a legitimate and phony application is difficult to spot. Also, applications are one of the most commonly downloaded documents from the Internet. This provides huge opportunity for hackers to install malware and other viruses onto your devices.

Why Pentest Your Applications?

The purpose of application penetration testing is to identify real-world vulnerabilities that attackers could possibly use to exploit and infiltrate your applications and software. These vulnerabilities are further analyzed and then remedied to avoid an actual application compromise. Holes in your application systems result in millions of dollars in financial losses each year, along with priceless amounts of data.

Even one successful attack on an application vector could mean certain doom for your company. A hacker inside applications will have the ability to move laterally within your organization to escalate their privileges until they have credentials to achieve their goal. An application penetration test will identify likely vectors so you may defend against these attacks and maintain peace on all of your applications.

Common Attack Vectors for Application Penetration Tests

These are some of the most common attack vectors that individuals try to exploit when attempting to break into your company applications:

Structured Language Query Injection (SLQi) Attack

A SLQi attack is one of the most common ways that hackers infiltrate your applications. This attack is performed by injecting malicious code (query) into an application in order to manipulate a backend database in order to access information. This SQL injection can help to bypass application security firewalls and give attackers an entrance into your company and its sensitive data. This data is usually private and important, making this attack popular and effective.

Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) Attack
Cross Site Request Forgery is an attack that forces an end user to perform unwanted actions on a web application where they are authenticated. In essence, CSRF attacks involve bad actors masquerading as authorized users. For instance, this attack could end up supplying access to an administrative user’s device to make large changes and access critical information that would not be otherwise accessible. This is usually done by a mix of virtual hacking and social engineering, which tricks end users into giving hackers access to their systems to begin the attack process.

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Attack 

Another vulnerability in application systems are through Cross Site Scripting attacks. Cross Site Scripting uses a client-side code injection that makes a victim’s browser execute a script that has been injected by the attacker while visiting a trusted website. The website becomes a vehicle to deliver the malicious script to the web browser, compromising the system. This is used to bypass security controls, such as same-origin policy. The effects of an XSS attack can range widely, from being a petty nuisance to a significant security risk, depending on how sensitive the data that is handled is on the vulnerable site.

Tips to Further Protect Your Company From Attacks

While performing penetration tests is both necessary and important for your applications, there are more ways to maximize your security defenses. Here are some of the most important tips to protect your company applications from an attack:

Install anti-virus and anti-malware software and make sure it is up to date

Having a strong and up to date anti-virus software should protect you from many of the large vulnerabilities your network has. This will create a “backbone” for your network and make sure no device is exposed to an attacker.

Establish network use standards

Making sure employees know how they should operate on the network, and more importantly, how they shouldn’t be is key for maximizing your security. Social engineering and user error are some of the most common ways attackers infiltrate a system, so educating your employees on network use standards is crucial.

Disable network connections when they are not in use
This step is all about limiting the number of attack vectors hackers have to target. Disabling network connections from dormant connections makes sure you only use what you need and don’t stretch your network thin. This way your cyber security team can focus on keeping active connections safe.

Encrypt data that is at rest
Encrypting data is done to ensure important and confidential data stored “at rest” is safe from compromise. Encrypting this data should mean that even if an attacker gets their hands on your data, they won’t be able to decrypt it for personal gain.

Limit the number users with network access and admin privileges

The more users that have elevated administrative privileges on your network, the more likely a successful attack is. Limiting the number of total users on your network and the number of individuals with admin privileges will limit the vulnerability of your network against a targeted attack and the number of attack vectors for a hacker.

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