Modern-era cybercriminals constantly push their boundaries and attack strategies to target businesses, governmental agencies, and other targets across all sectors and geographical locations.
New reports of such breaches are coming to light every day, much like the February 2023 US healthcare attacks where hundreds of hospital websites were compromised and temporarily taken offline by the hacker group KillNet or the 2021-22 targetted attacks on around fifty Indian government websites breaching their sensitive data.
How do you mitigate the growing security risks to your websites and digital assets? That’s where website penetration testing comes in.
What is Website Penetration Testing?
Why Do You Need Website Penetration Testing?
The Best Tools for Website Penetration Testing
Website Penetration Testing Checklist
How to achieve the ultimate security for your website with SecureLayer7
This informative read aims to explore website penetration testing, its methodology, tools, and a robust checklist to help you maintain compliance while optimally protecting your websites. Ultimately, it’s our goal to shed light on how to proactively avoid attacks and optimize your website security against known and emerging threats.
For the sake of understanding, imagine Jane, an apparel business owner that sells her products through her website, which has a product catalog, basic run-of-the-mill security features, and a payment check-out system.
Unfortunately, one morning she learns that not only has her website been attacked, but her customers, at check-out, were redirected to a fraudulent phishing website that stole their sensitive data and payment information.
The potential repercussions from such breaches impact thousands of organizations daily, often leading to consequences such as financial loss, reputational damage, and data leaks.
A website penetration test is a simulated attack that a business performs to assess if its active security measures are sufficient to protect its website and sensitive data from potential real-world breaches.
For many SMEs like Jane’s and large organizations, website pentests are at the forefront to proactively defend themselves from a wide range of simple to complex emerging threats plaguing their websites. It helps them keep attackers at bay and stay compliant with industry security standards.
Website security is crucial for the success of any online business, and neglecting it can have potentially disastrous consequences. Regular pen testing can help you find and remediate security vulnerabilities reducing your attack surface and making it an unlikely target for bad actors.
Continuous penetration testing ensures that your security measures are up-to-the-mark, including compliance with leading industry standards like PCI DSS, SOC2, HIPAA, and ISO 27001.
High-level compliance also helps businesses avoid the legal repercussions and penalties of neglecting compliance. It is an excellent way to build trust with customers and boost your brand image as a business that takes data privacy and security very seriously.
This trust is invaluable in driving growth, acquiring a larger user base, solidifying your market position, and enhancing revenue.
The methodology followed for website penetration is to systematically scale the system and target security weak spots the same way an attacker would.
Here are the three stages of a conclusive website pentest:
The tester gathers information on potential backend fingerprints in the first phase of website penetration testing. The information sought is to determine the operating system, software, CMS versions, protocols, and hardware used by the website’s tech stacks.
It allows the pen tester to build a server profile by correlating the various identified datasets to obtain the configuration of hosts and networks. This information is instrumental in identifying misconfigurations or other flaws to formulate and launch a more effective exploit.
The second phase is when the tester uses robust automated website penetration testing tools to scan the website’s services for CVEs and other known security flaws.
Simultaneously, website penetration testers perform manual scanning to identify business logic vulnerabilities and other complex system flaws that the automated scanner may have missed.
This two-pronged scanning ensures that the pen testers discover all potential flaws, misconfigurations, and vulnerabilities before the tester can commence exploitation.
The website penetration test’s third and final exploitation phase involves leveraging the uncovered vulnerabilities to launch the attack strategy.
Here, the website penetration tester validates practical vulnerabilities, filters out false positives, and exploits the target system and its weak spots to steal as much sensitive information as possible.
The pilfered data has to stay within the bounds of the scope of the website penetration test predecided between the target company and the tester.
Here are some robust tools used by cybersecurity professionals for website penetration testing:
The Harvester is a robust tool for gathering information on subdomain names, virtual hosts, employee names, email ids, and open ports from various public domain sources such as search engines and social media. This penetration testing tool helps find potential internal or external weak spots in the website’s IT infrastructure.
Burp Suite is a java-based website penetration testing framework with an in-built proxy to intercept network traffic between your browser and the target website. Through Burp Suite, the website pen tester can map and analyze the attack surface to manipulate requests, detect error messages, understand application behaviors, and uncover other website vulnerabilities.
Metasploit is a widely popular framework used by website penetration testers and attackers. It is an open-source exploit development and mitigation tool that allows testers to perform Nmap recon, identify vulnerabilities, devise a payload for the attack, and launch the exploit.
As an open-source framework, it can be customized to support most operating systems and includes over 1600 exploits across numerous platforms, including Python, Android, PHP, and Cisco.
The following website penetration testing checklist will help you assess, identify and mitigate any issues within your website’s security posture and data privacy:
This step is to gather as much information about the target web application as possible:
Performing discovery through automated and manual scanning:
Checking for encryption flaws:
In conclusion, you should now understand the vital role website penetration tests play in protecting your website and digital assets from external and internal threats. Follow the checklist to reduce operational downtimes, data leaks, and security loopholes in your web infrastructure.
Suppose you need further assistance in pentesting your websites. In that case, reach out to a professional penetration testing service provider to implement continuous penetration tests on your websites and web applications without the hassles of conducting them in-house.
SecureLayer7’s web application penetration testing is designed to comprehensively protect your websites and web applications by spotting high-risk business logic vulnerabilities based on industry standards, including OWASP Top Ten, PCI Compliance, and NIST 800-53. Our compliance checklists guarantee that your websites remain compliant and optimally protected against exploits and severe data breaches.
We are renowned amongst SMEs that leverage our web application penetration testing services to perform and act on continuous mobile applications, thick client, VoIP, and on-demand penetration testing.
We additionally help businesses securely maintain their cloud infrastructure by detecting and quarantining vulnerabilities in AWS, Azure, and Kubernetes systems at a reasonable cost.
Our network security service ensures that your corporate infrastructure complies with industry regulations and follows the best network security practices reducing the risk of attacks on devices and servers.
SL7 provides full security service to your web application with automated and manual testing to identify and remediate all risks challenging your application security. Contact us to find out how we identify and mitigate all your web app vulnerabilities.