A Complete Guide to Web Application Penetration Testing
Have you ever wished you could put yourself in the position of a real-life cyber specialist and stop criminals from taking advantage of security flaws in web applications? You’re in the proper place if your response is “yes”!
Here, I’ll teach you how penetration testing is done professionally under the legal authorities. You might be amazed at how this penetration testing skill works for organizations to deal with unknown cyber security risks caused by security loopholes in the organization’s infrastructure.
Just for an explanatory purpose let’s find out how penetration testing works with a fictional web app that will be “SuperDuperApp.”
Step 1: Information Gathering
- First, we gather as much information as we can on SuperDuperApp.
- This can involve using the Wayback Machine to view its previous iterations, searching up its domain registration information through WHOIS, and even analyzing the structure of the website.
- We discovered that it contains a MySQL database, runs on a Linux server, and processes backend logic with PHP.
Step 2: Scanning and Enumeration
- The IP address of SuperDuperApp is then scanned for open ports and running services using a program like Nmap.
- It provides us with a list of available ports, such as port 22 for SSH and port 80 for HTTP.
- We discover more about these services through enumeration. For example, we find out that SuperDuperApp is using an outdated version of Apache by looking at the HTTP headers.
Step 3: Vulnerability Assessment
- Using this data, we use a vulnerability scanner such as Nessus to look for vulnerabilities associated with the out-of-date version of Apache.
- We discovered that there is a known vulnerability that may permit unwanted access (let’s call it CVE-2023–1234).
Step 4: Exploitation
- We take advantage of the found vulnerability by using a program such as Metasploit.
- A bug in the Apache software gives us the ability to run arbitrary instructions on the server through this vulnerability.
- For this scenario, let’s go a little further to show the next steps. In the real world, we would stop here and report the vulnerability.
Step 5: Post-Exploitation
- Once CVE-2023–1234 is exploited, we can access the server as an unauthorized user.
- We can now investigate the system internally.
- We found that certain files had their permissions set incorrectly, giving us access to private information.
Step 6: Reporting
- Lastly, we compile all of the information into an extensive report. This comprises information about how we found and exploited the Apache vulnerability, screenshots of unauthorized access, possible risks (such as data theft due to incorrect file permissions), and, of course, suggestions on how to resolve these problems, like updating the Apache software and changing file permissions.
An actual web application penetration test is carried out in this manner. As one stage leads to another, more information is uncovered, forming a pathway from external observation to inside access and, eventually, a thorough report that can direct the bolstering of the application’s security.
Breaking into systems for fun or financial gain is not the goal of penetration testing. It has to do with safeguarding data security and enhancing online application security.
About The Author
Suraj Koli is a content specialist with expertise in Cybersecurity and B2B Domains. He has provided his skills for the News4Hackers Blog and Craw Security. Moreover, he has written content for various sectors Business, Law, Food & Beverage, Entertainment, and many others. Koli established his center of the field in a very amazing scenario. Simply said, he started his career selling products, where he enhanced his skills in understanding the product and the point of view of clients from the customer’s perspective, which simplified his journey in the long run. It makes him an interesting personality among other writers. Currently, he is a regular writer at Craw Security.
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