Security testing refers to the entire spectrum of testing initiatives that are aimed at ensuring proper and flawless functioning of an application in a production environment. It aims at evaluating various elements of security covering integrity, confidentiality, authenticity, vulnerability and continuity. By focusing on the various layers of an information system across infrastructure, database, network and access channels like mobile, security testing looks at making the applications safe and sound and free from vulnerabilities.
Why is security testing important?
A comprehensive security testing framework deals with validation across all layers of an application. Starting with analysis and evaluation of the security of the infrastructure of the application, it moves further covering the network, database and application exposure layers. While application and mobile testing serves to evaluate security at these levels, cloud penetration testing exposes the security chinks in the armour, when the application is hosted in the cloud. These testing concepts make use of a combination of automated scanner tools that evaluate lines of code for security anomalies and penetration testing that simulates an attack by unintended access channels.
Vulnerability assessment forms an important component of security testing. Through this, the organisation can evaluate their application code for vulnerabilities and take remedial measures for the same. Recently, many of the software development organizations have been making use of a secure software development life cycle methodologies to ensure identification and rectification of vulnerability areas early on in the application development process.
There are four main focus areas to be considered in security testing (Especially for web sites/applications):
- Network security: This involves looking for vulnerabilities in the network infrastructure (resources and policies).
- System software security: This involves assessing weaknesses in the various software (operating system, database system, and other software) the application depends on.
- Client-side application security: This deals with ensuring that the client (browser or any such tool) cannot be manipulated.
- Server-side application security: This involves making sure that the server code and its technologies are robust enough to fend off any intrusion.
How does security testing add value to organisations?
In today’s connected world with consumers depending all the more on online channels to perform transactions, any security breaches, however major or minor it may be, will lead to loss in customer confidence and ultimately revenue. Further, the security attacks have also grown exponentially, both in quality as well as impact potential. In such a scenario, security testing is the only discipline that helps an organisation identify where they are vulnerable and take the corrective measures to prevent as well rectifies the gaps in security. More and more organisations are getting the security audits done and testing measures in order to ensure that their mission i.e. critical applications are shielded from any breaches or unintended penetration. The more extensive an organisation’s security testing approaches are, the better are its chances of succeeding in an increasingly threatening technology landscape.
Data security measures enable an organisation to avoid the pitfalls arising from accidental disclosures of sensitive data. Many times, such leakages cost organisations dearly, on account of legal complications arising due to sensitivity of information. Data security measures reduce the compliance cost by simplifying data audit mechanisms and automating them. They also enable the organisation to ensure integrity of data by preventing unauthorized usage and modifications. In today’s well-connected world, adoption of robust data security processes and methodologies also ensures that the organisation is well aligned to the legal and compliance standards across countries – a key deciding factor when it comes to operating across continents.
Security policies, procedures and processes are essential to ensure the privacy of a system. Security testing never stops, as the software develops and changes over time; monitoring and awareness are on-going. The goal is to try to always stay one step ahead of the hackers.