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App Development
6 minutes read

Software Security Testing: Everything You Need to Know

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
6 minutes read

If your organization wants to reduce security weaknesses and eliminate security threats, it must prioritize software security testing. Most software-related costly data breaches occur due to security vulnerabilities in the application layer. 

As a result, your organization must prioritize software security testing. Unfortunately, many organizations get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of security testing information available.

What software security tests are most important for your organization’s software application? Which software security testing tools are the best to use? 

This post will help your organization sift through the wealth of security testing information. Unfortunately, there are many security risks, but luckily there are also many good software security testing tools and techniques. 

This post will help your organization understand everything it needs to know about software security testing so that it can reduce security flaws and improve its security posture. 

The Different Types of Software Security Testing 

There are several different ways to perform security testing. The security testing approaches best suited to your mobile or web application will depend on your organization’s needs and the security issues most damaging to its software.

The main types of software security testing include the following:

  • Penetration testing
  • Vulnerability scanning 
  • Security scanning 
  • Ethical hacking 
  • Security auditing 
  • Risk assessment
  • Posture assessment 

Penetration Testing 

Penetration testing is valuable because it simulates an attack from a cyber attacker. Generally, a penetration test will target a specific system or component of a web application to see how it stands up to malicious attacks. 

Penetration tests are a great way to highlight security risks and vulnerabilities because these attacks mimic real-world conditions and attack patterns. 

Vulnerability Scanning 

Vulnerability scanning is an automated process that utilizes a vulnerability scanner to look for potential vulnerabilities by comparing a software system against known vulnerability signatures

Finding vulnerabilities is critical before they can be exploited. Luckily, vulnerability scanners automate the entire process, making it easy for organizations to find and address found vulnerabilities. 

The only issue is that these security tools rely on known vulnerability signatures, so a new and novel attack could exploit an unfound vulnerability. 

Security Scanning 

Security scanning involves identifying weaknesses in the network or system and offering solutions to minimize these software vulnerabilities. These software security testing tools often offer both automated and manual security testing

There are two types of security scanning tools, dynamic application security testing, and static application security testing. Dynamic security testing tools run without prior knowledge of the system or software. 

Dynamic testing tools identify vulnerabilities in an application’s running state. On the other hand, static security testing tools run with prior knowledge of the system or software. Therefore, static testing tools look for vulnerabilities in an application’s source code at rest. 

There are also interactive application security testing tools, sometimes called hybrid tools. Hybrid tools use a combination of dynamic and static testing techniques. 

These tools work well in Agile and DevOps environments where traditional dynamic or static tools might be too time-consuming. 

Ethical Hacking 

Ethical hacking involves hacking an organization’s software, network, or systems. The difference between ethical and malicious hacking is the end goal. 

Malicious hackers are hacking for personal gain. Ethical hackers are hacking to expose a system’s security flaws. Organizations hire ethical hackers to find weaknesses in their software and systems.

What is the difference between penetration testing and ethical hacking because they sound like the same thing? These two concepts are similar, but they are different. Penetration testers focus on specific areas as requested by the organization. 

On the other hand, ethical hackers attack a system wherever and with whatever they want, so it is a far broader test of an organization’s security practices. 

Security Auditing 

Security audits don’t involve active software testing. Security auditing is a detailed inspection of software to find flaws in the code

Auditing does not always have to be an internal process. There are also external audits, which can be helpful because an external audit team doesn’t have the same relationship with the software as your business does. 

Risk Assessment 

This type of software testing involves analyzing and classifying observed security risks. Risks are rated from low to high. 

In addition to rating security risks from low to high, risk assessments also offer organizations controls and measures that can be adopted to minimize their risk.

Posture Assessment 

Posture assessments combine a variety of the security tests listed above to demonstrate the overall security posture of an organization. A posture assessment will do your business little good on its own, but it is valuable once you have established security standards to see how effective and strong they are. 

Common Security Misconceptions

My business is too small for security to matter

Believe it or not, this is a common thought many small business owners have, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Small businesses are just as susceptible to hacking and cyber attacks as large multinational corporations. 

However, when small businesses get hacked, there are often fewer resources, and it is more difficult for them to recover, especially when it comes to brand reputation. Don’t ignore security just because you run a small business.

Security testing provides no return on investment

Not only does security testing ensure the safety of your organization’s digital assets, but it can also help your team highlight areas of inefficiency and improve upon them. There are many ways security testing can provide value to your organization. 

The right hardware and software will safeguard my business

Good security tools can make a significant difference in your organization’s security posture, but they offer little value if your business fails to implement a security culture or understand how security breaches occur. 

You should invest in security tools, but you can’t ignore broader security training for your employees. The right tools can still be exploited when you don’t understand how to properly implement and deploy them. 

Final Thoughts 

Security testing can be a complicated topic to understand since there are so many tools and testing variations. However, it is important to get a basic understanding so your organization can actively work to protect itself.

If you want to learn more about software security testing, reach out to an experienced testing and development partner like Koombea.

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