Cybersecurity threats are becoming more prevalent for enterprises worldwide. Around 68 percent of corporate executives believe their cybersecurity dangers are increasing as assaults evolve.
The importance of security testing cannot be overstated.
While some businesses depend only on automated security testing tools and methods to verify compliance with security standards, others combine automated and manual security testing to ensure their software is adequately tested and safe.
There are several manual methods for assessing the security posture of your application. Prior to delving into them, let’s take a deeper look at why you should do manual security testing.
Why Should You Perform Manual Security Testing?
Even with significant advancements in automation technologies, there are still several factors that need human attention to effectively check or identify possible online security vulnerabilities in an application.
Certain types of possible vulnerabilities, such as business logic or cryptography flaws, need human verification.
That is why you must do manual security testing.
Manual security testers often use a mix of hand-selected security testing software and tools that are most appropriate for evaluating their application. Customized scripts and automatic scanning tools are examples of this.
Advanced ways for manually doing security testing include exact test cases such as validating user controls, analyzing encryption capabilities, and conducting a detailed analysis to uncover nested weaknesses inside an application.
Carrying out security testing manually does not exclude the usage of automation. Rather than that, security professionals may use automation to look for patterns or other signals that might reveal critical information about an application’s vulnerabilities.
Manual security testing’s major objective is to uncover flaws and possible vulnerabilities in an application that may not be fully understood or exposed by automated security testing alone.
Regardless of the amount of automated testing software and tools used, it is necessary to manually evaluate program behavior to guarantee that the principles of integrity, confidentiality, and availability are not broken.
Techniques to Assist You in Conducting Manual Security Testing
You may do manual security testing when any vulnerability in the application’s security requires a real-world, human judgment call. There are several manual security testing methodologies that may assist you in assessing the security of your apps and systems.
The following are some of the most successful and efficient manual security testing techniques:
Oversee the management of access control
Whether it’s a web application or a computer, access control is crucial in preventing your application’s or system’s security from being compromised by attackers or insider threats.
Access control management is divided into two components:
- Authentication – What is your identity?
- Authorization – What are your rights and what information are you permitted to access?
For instance, an employee should have access to just the information necessary to execute his or her job.
You may guarantee that only authorized users have access to data or a system by implementing access control.
To manually validate this, the tester should establish many user accounts with varying responsibilities.
The tester should next try to access applications or systems through these accounts, ensuring that each user account has exclusive access to its own forms, screens, accounts, menus, and modules. The tester may then examine requests made by one user/role in the context of another user/session. role’s
If the tester is able to access an application using a deactivated account, he or she may record the program’s security vulnerability.
Additionally, what is there?
A user with limited or lower access rights should be unable to access sensitive data or data with a high level of permission.
Additionally, you should personally verify password quality rules, default logins, password recovery, password updates, web security question/answer, and logout functionality, among other things.
Similarly, authorization tests should include a check for issues with horizontal access control, missing authorization, and path reversal, among other things.
Analysis of Dynamic Systems (Penetration Testing)
Penetration testing, or pen testing, is a kind of software testing that employs controlled cyber-attacks on an operating system in order to identify vulnerabilities that may be exploited by attackers.
Penetration testing a live system manually entails the following steps:
- Data Collection – The first step in doing manual penetration testing is to gather data such as table names, database information, information about third-party plugins, and software settings. It may be accomplished manually or with the use of publicly accessible internet testing tools (such as website source code analysis).
- Vulnerability Assessment – After collecting data, the software penetration testing team assesses it for security risks or vulnerabilities that might expose the system to a security assault.
- Conduct Simulated Attacks – The penetration testing team conducts simulated assaults on the target system in order to discover more vulnerabilities and get a better understanding of how to avoid attacks.
- Report Preparation – Once the system has been targeted and thoroughly examined for possible vulnerabilities, the software testing team generates a report outlining the test’s findings and the protective actions necessary.
This is the procedure to follow if you want to do manual penetration testing to improve the security of a system.
Analysis of Static Data (Static Code Analysis)
Static code analysis is another prominent approach of manual security assessment. It is often conducted as part of white-box testing, commonly referred to as a Code Review, and is used to identify possible vulnerabilities in “static” (non-running) source code.
Static code analysis use methods such as data flow analysis and taint analysis to ascertain a system’s weaknesses.
It is carried out by manual testers who are familiar with the operating system in which the program runs and the users who interact with it. These testers understand both the application’s general objective and the purpose of particular functionalities.
They use this knowledge to static analysis tools, which evaluate source code, documentation, and even executable files in order to identify vulnerabilities without executing the code.
Static analysis tools have a wide variety of purposes and capabilities, ranging from code style enforcement to compiler-level tests for logical flaws and much more.
Simply said, static code analysis enables you to maintain secure code without having to execute it.
Verify the server’s access controls
Web applications include various user access points that provide for sufficient access to satisfy users’ requests, but they must also maintain security in order to prevent data breaches or assaults.
How can testers verify the integrity of server access controls?
Testers should confirm that all intra- and inter-network access points to the application are accessible only to anticipated computers (IP addresses), programs, and users, and that all access is properly managed.
To determine if an open access point is properly limited, the tester should attempt to connect to it using both untrusted and trustworthy IP addresses.
Additionally, a variety of real-time transactions should be carried out in bulk to evaluate the application’s performance under pressure.
While performing manual security testing, the tester should additionally verify that the application’s open access points enable users to perform particular operations in a secure manner.
For example, the tester may upload a file that exceeds the program’s maximum file size limit, attempt to upload a prohibited file type, or download data from a restricted website to determine if the application permits such operations.
The purpose of testing server access restrictions is to guarantee that the program is safe from possible threats while allowing users to utilize it.
Testers often examine network entry and egress points to verify that no illegal networks may deliver traffic or information to the host network, and vice versa.
What are the definitions of entry and egress points?
Ingress traffic refers to all network traffic and data communications directed toward a node in the host network from external networks. By contrast, egress traffic refers to any traffic that originates inside the network and is directed toward an external network.
These network entry points may be readily verified manually by attempting to transfer data from a restricted network to the host network and verifying that the host network allows traffic and accepts data.
A tester may also transport sensitive data or secret information from the host network to an approved external network to determine the security of the egress points.
Filtering at the ingress and egress points enables networks to communicate with one another while preserving security requirements and preventing sensitive data from being shared with unauthorized networks.
When doing manual security testing, you should run session management tests to ensure that the application is effectively managing sessions.
To verify that your application is properly managing sessions, check for session expiry after a specified idle period, session termination upon login and logout, session termination upon reaching the application’s maximum lifespan, session length, and session cookie scope, among other things.
Password management is one of the most effective security testing approaches that you may utilize when doing manual testing. This term refers to the different techniques for obtaining passwords and gaining access to user accounts or systems.
How can you verify the administration of passwords?
If the online application or system does not enforce strict password restrictions (for example, using numerics, special characters, or passphrases), it may be fairly simple to brute force passwords and get account access.
Additionally, passwords that are not encrypted are more prone to being stolen and directly utilized. Attackers may use a variety of techniques to steal data from a database, including SQL Injection.
Even if passwords are hashed, they can be broken using password cracking software such as Brutus or RainbowCrack, or by manually guessing username/password combinations.
Attacks via Brute-Force
Another method of doing manual security testing is via the use of brute-force assaults.
Brute-force attacks work by guessing many password combinations until the right one is determined.
Brute-force assaults are used by attackers to get sensitive information such as personal identification numbers, passcodes, passwords, or usernames in order to commit identity theft, redirect domains to hostile websites, or engage in other nefarious actions.
This approach is also extensively used by application security testers to assess the security of an application, more precisely the strength of its encryption.
For example, a tester should try to login to accounts using incorrect passwords, and the system should, ideally, prohibit the user after a certain number of unsuccessful repeated login attempts.
Additionally, if the program detects login attempts from an unfamiliar device or suspicious network, it should prompt the user for multi-factor authentication, which may include one-time passwords delivered to the user’s confirmed email address or contact number, or a security question specified by the user.
Injection of SQL Data (SQLi)
SQL Injection is a method for injecting malicious SQL statements into an application in order to change or retrieve data from databases.
It is one of the most deadly, prevalent, and historic vulnerabilities in online applications. It affects any online application that makes use of SQL databases, such as Oracle, SQL Server, or MySQL.
How can SQL Injection attacks be prevented?
Manual testers examine SQL injection entry points to see whether they are vulnerable to SQL injection attacks. They discover and verify the database code that executes direct MySQL queries on the database in response to certain user inputs.
For instance, the application’s input field should be capable of accepting a single quotation (‘). However, if the program returns a database error to the tester, this indicates that the user input has been entered into a database query and performed.
The SQL query error message shown in the browser may cause the program to crash or assist the attacker in extracting data such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) (XSS)
Along with SQL Injection attacks, testers do manual security testing on the web application to look for Cross-Site Scripting (i.e. XSS). It is a kind of client-side injection attack in which the attacker attempts to run malicious scripts in the victim’s browser.
These malicious scripts may communicate the victim’s login credentials or session token to the attacker, record their keystrokes, or execute arbitrary operations on the victim’s behalf.
Manual testers must check that input fields do not trust unvalidated user input and that the output of these fields is appropriately encoded if it is included in a server response.
Additionally, the fundamental method of preventing XSS injection attacks is to use adequate input and output encoding.
Manipulation of URLs
URL manipulation is another approach attackers use to compromise apps. It is the process by which an attacker modifies the parameters of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for malicious intentions.
How can you safeguard your application from URL tampering?
Manual testers should check that the program does not permit the inclusion of sensitive information in the query string. These sorts of attacks occur when an application makes use of the HTTP GET technique to communicate with the server.
When an application receives a URL-based input, it transmits this information to the application through the query string parameters. The tester may alter a query string parameter’s value to determine if the server accepts it.
User information is sent to the server using HTTP GET requests in order to get data or make requests. If the tester is able to modify the input variables sent to the server through this GET request, they may get illegal information.
Specify Functions with a High Probability of Failure
Businesses deal with a significant amount of data on a daily basis. There are hundreds of business functions that involve file upload/download, employee user access privileges, data exchange with third-party contractors, and a variety of additional operations that might be vulnerable.
You must identify high-risk functions in order to guarantee that enhanced security controls are applied for specific actions, such as preventing unauthorized or malicious file uploads/downloads.
If your application processes sensitive data, you should do a manual inspection for injection vulnerabilities, password guessing, buffer overflows, and insecure cryptography storage, among other things.
Manually Conduct Security Testing Using These Techniques
While automated security testing has several advantages, it is insufficient to verify an application’s total security.
Businesses must undertake manual security testing to guarantee that a program does not have any possible flaws or vulnerabilities that may be exploited by an attacker.
By doing thorough security testing manually, businesses may identify business weaknesses and injection vulnerabilities that automated security tests may miss.
Are you ready to begin? While doing manual security testing, you may use the above-mentioned efficient manual security testing methodologies.
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