The Insider’s Guide to Security Testing 

Security testing plays a crucial role in software testing by pinpointing and addressing security risks before they impact you and your users. This article covers the fundamentals of security testing within software testing, detailing its significance and purpose.   

Additionally, we delve into the various types of security testing you can carry out. 

What is Security Testing and Why is it Important? 

Security testing evaluates a system’s security by identifying potential vulnerabilities and threats. This critical phase within the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) aims to detect security flaws that could lead to real-world attacks.  

This process goes beyond merely attempting to breach the application and focuses on spotting weaknesses that attackers could exploit. Security testing can be conducted either manually or using automated security testing tools.   

what is security testing

What is Security Testing

At its core, security testing examines the system for possible security risks by conducting positive and negative evaluations to pinpoint security vulnerabilities.   

The key purpose of security testing is to discover and assess the system’s vulnerabilities, enabling the implementation of measures to counteract these threats and ensuring the system remains operational and secure against exploitation. 

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Types Of Security Testing 

Vulnerability scanning 

Vulnerability scanning utilizes specialized software to check a system or application for known issues, such as outdated software or incorrect configurations. This security testing method enables organizations to pinpoint potential vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit swiftly.   

Different vulnerability scans are distinguished by their scope and how deeply they probe into the system. 

  • External Vulnerability Scan—This type focuses on uncovering vulnerabilities accessible from outside the organization’s network that external attackers could exploit.  
  • Internal Vulnerability Scan – This scan aims to find vulnerabilities that might be exploited by someone with internal access, such as employees or contractors, highlighting internal security weaknesses.  
  • Non-Intrusive Vulnerability Scan – Also known as passive scanning, this approach evaluates a system’s security from a distance, without direct interaction. It involves monitoring network traffic, analyzing system configurations, and reviewing publicly available data to spot potential security issues.  
  • Intrusive Vulnerability Scan – In contrast, intrusive scanning actively engages with the system to uncover vulnerabilities. This involves sending specific types of network traffic, attempting to exploit known vulnerabilities and interacting with applications to mimic potential attack methods. 

Penetration Testing 

Penetration Testing, or Pen-Testing, simulates a cyberattack on applications, systems, or networks within a controlled environment. A reliable and certified security professional should always manually carry out this process to assess the effectiveness of security measures in real time.   

A critical aspect of Pen-Testing is its ability to uncover hidden vulnerabilities, including zero-day threats and business logic errors.   

Here is a step-by-step guide to the penetration testing process:   

  1. Scope and Planning: Establish the boundaries of the penetration test, pinpointing the specific systems, applications, and networks to be examined.  
  2. Reconnaissance: Collect data on the target, such as IP addresses, domain names, and publicly accessible information.  
  3. Vulnerability Analysis: Automated tools scan targeted systems for known operating software and service vulnerabilities.  
  4. Threat Modeling: Create attack scenarios and threat models using the vulnerabilities found and evaluate their potential impact on the organization.  
  5. Exploitation: Exploit the discovered vulnerabilities to achieve unauthorized access, elevate privileges, or interfere with the target systems.  
  6. Data Collection: Gather information about the exploited vulnerabilities, the penetration test’s trajectory, and any accessed sensitive data.  
  7. Analysis and Reporting: Compile the results, detailing the exploited vulnerabilities, the techniques employed, and possible consequences. Evaluate the risks linked to the discovered vulnerabilities and suggest corrective actions. 

Security Code Review 

A security code review is crucial in developing secure software and has established itself as an indispensable type of security testing. This testing is designed to discover and fix security flaws within an application’s source code. This proactive measure ensures that software is developed with security as a priority, lowering the likelihood of security and data breaches.   

In a security code review, a security analyst or developer goes through the source code one line at a time to look for possible security risks, coding mistakes, and vulnerabilities that attackers could use.  

It’s important to include security code reviews in the software development process, do them often, and ensure they are suited to the application’s specific technology and security needs. 

SAST (Static Application Security Testing) 

SAST (Static Application Security Testing), also known as code scanning, involves the automated review of an application’s source code, bytecode, or binary code to identify security flaws and coding mistakes without running the application.   

SAST tools dissect your code into smaller, more manageable segments, allowing them to examine functions and subroutines for concealed vulnerabilities thoroughly.   

These tools can explore the depths of code beyond what the human mind can, peeling back layers of recursion to reveal a broad spectrum of vulnerabilities that might be overlooked during manual review.   

Although they can be slower and sometimes generate false positives, SAST tools excel at detecting a wide range of potential threats, including memory leaks, infinite loops, unhandled errors, and more. 

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DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) 

DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing), also known as black-box testing, is a technique for testing an application’s security while it is active without needing to understand its internal workings or code structure. This method mimics attacks that could happen in the real world, offering insights into possible security weaknesses from an outsider’s viewpoint.   

Features of DAST include:  

  • Runtime Testing: DAST scanners interact with the application as it runs, sending different inputs and requests to see how it reacts. 
  • External Assessment: These scanners view and test the application as an external attacker would, providing a perspective from outside the system. 
  • Realistic Attack Simulations: By mimicking various attack methods, such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and cross-site request forgery (CSRF), DAST identifies potential security flaws that could be exploited. 
  • Effectiveness with Large Applications: DAST is particularly useful for examining big and complex applications because it doesn’t need source code access. 
  • Authentication Testing: It also evaluates the effectiveness of the application’s authentication and access controls by attempting to circumvent them through different strategies. 

Ethical Hacking  

Ethical hacking involves using skilled security experts to try to break into a system’s defenses in an approved and controlled way. This approach helps organizations spot vulnerabilities and weak spots through the eyes of a potential attacker. Ethical hackers apply techniques that malicious hackers might use to strengthen security.   

Ethical hacking breaks down into specific areas of interest, including:   

  • Web Application Hacking – This involves ethical hackers looking for vulnerabilities in web applications.  
  • System Hacking – In this area, ethical hackers seek out vulnerabilities in operating systems, software, and the hardware parts of computer systems.  
  • Web Server Hacking – Focuses on checking the security of web servers. Ethical hackers look at server setups, access controls, and vulnerabilities that could let attackers disrupt the server or get in without permission.  
  • Database Hacking – Here, ethical hackers search for vulnerabilities in databases and their management systems, concentrating on problems like SQL injection, poorly secured database setups, and unauthorized access to data. 
what is security testing in software testing

Types of Security Testing

Risk Assessment 

Risk assessment involves identifying, analyzing, and categorizing the security risks that an app, software, or network may face into Critical, High, Medium, or Low. Based on these categories, recommendations for mitigation measures and controls are made according to their urgency. Aligning these risks with industry benchmarks, such as the OWASP Top 10 Risk Score, helps set priorities for security initiatives.   

The process of risk assessment can be broken down into four key steps:   

  • Risk Identification: Spot potential risks and threats. 
  • Risk Analysis: Assess their probability and potential impact. 
  • Risk Prioritization: Arrange the risks in order of severity. 
  • Risk Mitigation: Formulate plans to address risks with high priority. 

Security Posture Assessment 

An organization’s overall security stance is evaluated through posture assessment, which employs a mix of security scanning, ethical hacking, and risk assessment techniques.  

Such an assessment typically incorporates aspects from various security testing methods, aiding organizations in crafting an all-encompassing security plan.  

  • When should your organization think about conducting a cybersecurity posture assessment?  
  • When you aim to understand your current cybersecurity condition thoroughly 
  • When you need to verify the correct application of essential cybersecurity protocols 
  • When you are looking for an in-depth analysis of vulnerabilities 
  • When your organization’s protection against cyber threats seems insufficient 
  • When you wish to confirm that your investments in cybersecurity are yielding benefits 
  • When your organization is undergoing integration projects or changes in its technology infrastructure 

Choosing the Right Security Testing Approach 

Choosing the right security testing type depends on various factors, including your organization’s specific needs, available resources, and the type of systems or applications you’re working with. Here’s a guide to help you decide which security testing type fits your situation:  

Security Testing Type 

When to Use 

Best For 

Vulnerability Scanning 

Regular security checks to identify known vulnerabilities. 

Organizations of any size are needed to maintain an overview of security posture. 

Penetration Testing 

Detailed assessment of potential exploitation by attackers. 

Organizations that have addressed basic security and want to test their defenses. 

Security Code Review 

During the development phase, identify flaws in the code. 

Development teams building security into applications from the start. 

SAST (Static Application Security Testing) 

Early in the development lifecycle, before the application runs. 

Catching vulnerabilities early in development, saving time and resources. 

DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) 

Testing live, deployed applications for runtime vulnerabilities. 

Assessing the security of operational applications, especially large and complex ones. 

Ethical Hacking 

Real-world assessment of security posture from an attacker’s perspective. 

Organizations with mature security practices test against sophisticated attacks. 

Risk Assessment 

Identifying, analyzing, and categorizing risks to prioritize security efforts. 

Organizations of all sizes focus security resources on significant threats. 

Security Posture Assessment 

Comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s overall security stance. 

Organizations seeking a holistic view of security strengths and weaknesses. 

Choosing the Right Type 

  • For Initial Security Checks: Start with vulnerability scanning to identify and fix known issues. 
  • During Development: Implement SAST and security code reviews to catch issues early. 
  • For Deployed Applications: Use DAST to find runtime vulnerabilities and penetration testing for an in-depth security assessment. 
  • For Comprehensive Security Planning: Conduct risk and posture assessments to effectively prioritize and address security needs. 


As the digital world grows, the complexity of cyber threats grows. Keeping your digital assets safe is critical. Security testing is not just recommended; it’s crucial for businesses of all sizes in today’s interconnected world. 

Navigating cybersecurity can be challenging, but TECHVIFY is here to help. Our team of experts and advanced testing methods are ready to enhance your digital security. TECHVIFY’s security testing services are designed to identify vulnerabilities, mitigate risks, and protect against cyber-attacks.  

Take action before a security breach. Contact TECHVIFY today for top-quality security testing services and secure your digital future. 

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