Skip to main content

The Importance of Application Penetration Testing

Penetration testing has become essential for organizations to generate valuable insights into their software, applications, and websites. Everything connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. We live in a digital era, with many of our routine activities being done by smart devices. The internet has empowered people to perform all their tasks online, from business to shopping and studying to playing. In addition to websites, all companies have their own mobile applications.

These websites and mobile applications are extremely helpful and efficient while saving time and making tasks easy. However, much of users’ personal information is shared online, making them vulnerable to identity theft. Therefore, the security of websites and mobile applications is more essential than ever before. To prevent and mitigate the risk of security breaches, there is a need to uncover vulnerabilities by making penetration testing a part of the design and development of websites and mobile applications.

In this article, we will learn about penetration testing, its process, and its benefits. Moreover, we will discuss threats and risks businesses can face without implementing penetration testing. Let’s get started.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a process of identifying vulnerabilities or flaws that exist in a website, mobile application, network, or system. It generally involves the use of attacking methodologies performed by trusted individuals and is similar to those used by hackers or hostile intruders. Penetration testing or pen testing is a critical vulnerability management tool that helps you uncover weak points in a system, application, or website by leveraging simulated attacks carried out by trusted people.

A penetration test can be conducted to

  • find vulnerabilities in mobile applications, websites, networks, or systems
  • determine the robustness of controls
  • provide quantitative and qualitative examples of current cybersecurity postures
  • comply with data security and privacy regulations.

How does penetration testing work?

Penetration testing can be performed in the following five steps.

  • Planning and reconnaissance In this phase, pen testers gather information about the website or application, including any hosts or connected devices. The test initiates by attempting to gain proper insights into web or mobile applications and their components.
  • Scanning The second step is to understand how the target website or application responds to different intrusion attempts. It is generally done through static or dynamic analysis. In static analysis, pen testers inspect code to estimate how it behaves while running. However, in dynamic analysis, they inspect the code in the running state.
  • Exploitation and penetration attempt During this step, pen testers begin an attempt to infiltrate the environment by exploiting security vulnerabilities and demonstrating how deep they can infiltrate. This stage uses attacks, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and backdoors to uncover vulnerabilities.
  • Maintaining access This step aims to check if a vulnerability can be used to get the persistent presence in the exploited application or website long enough for a hacker to gain in-depth access. It is done to imitate advanced persistent threats (APT) that generally remain there for months to steal organizations’ most sensitive data.
  • Analysis and reporting Penetration testing results are then compiled into a report. It details the exploited vulnerabilities, sensitive data that was accessed, and the time during which a pen tester was able to stay in the system undetected.

Benefits of Penetration Testing for Websites or Mobile Applications

Here are five benefits of penetration testing for website and mobile applications.

1.   Identify and prioritize risks

Conducting regulation pen testing enables organizations to evaluate their web and mobile applications. Moreover, it helps to understand what security controls are required to robust security levels within an organization to protect its assets and people. Prioritizing these risks gives businesses to anticipate risks and prevent potential attacks from happening.

2.   Identify vulnerabilities

Web and mobile application penetration testing can identify vulnerabilities within your IT infrastructure. It helps to locate loopholes in applications and websites that leave sensitive data open to criminal attacks. Moreover, it can help strengthen the security policies by highlighting vulnerable endpoints through which hackers can infiltrate the system.

3.   Ensure business continuity

To ensure your business operations are up and running, there is a need for efficient communication, access to resources, and network availability. Each disruption within your applications, websites, or systems can have a negative impact on your business. Pen testing reveals potential threats and vulnerabilities to ensure that your organization’s operations do not suffer from accessibility loss or unexpected downtime. Regular penetration testing is like a business continuity audit.

4.   Mature IT environment

A robust and mature cybersecurity posture within your organization is a great way to maintain a competitive edge against other organizations. It lets you demonstrate to your clients that information security and compliance regulations are paramount for your business. Moreover, a flawless application or a website helps build user trust towards your business.

Threats and Risks

If organizations do not conduct penetration tests for their websites and mobile applications, they can face various threats and risks. Here are some of them.

1.   Cause financial damage

A single data breach of your company’s website or application can lead to millions of dollars loss. Security flaws and associated disruptions in the performance of your application or system can cause debilitating financial harm. It can also put an organization’s reputation at risk, incur unanticipated fines and penalties, and generate negative press.

2.   Loss of reputation

Your organization’s reputation definitely suffers when a security breach occurs. It can cause loss of confidential data, which will eventually lose their confidence in your products or services. As people understand the importance of data privacy and how data loss can affect them, the impact of an attack can cause significant loss to a company’s reputation.

3.   Compliance and regulations

During a risk assessment, your organization will assess the impact of not complying with regulations if you do not conduct pen testing on your applications and websites. Non-compliance to security regulations can cost a hefty fine or loss of license to operate. Any website or application handling sensitive information needs penetration testing to ensure its security. With technology advancements and digital hikes, the risks of cyber attacks have increased. Therefore, it’s essential to perform penetration testing for all websites and mobile applications. By conducting regular penetration testing, you will be able to identify and fix vulnerabilities, flaws, or security risks within your mobile application or website before a malicious actor stages an attack.

Should you have any requirements, questions or just want a chat regarding penetration testing, please get in touch!