If you yourself are an application developer, chances are you have already spent hours upon hours of creating and reviewing the code for your application. While software architecture and development is, by no means, an easy task, there are always certain vulnerabilities that you should assess in order to tell whether or not your software application can pass industry standards. Many developers would say that this is an extra, unnecessary step – after all, the main point is that the application works and was delivered on time, right? This is technically the wrong way of thinking, as every day new security risks are being identified in companies all over the world, with startling consequences. That being said, you may need a tool to help you in your application assessment.
Application assessment is an area of IT security that is closely related to penetration testing, except that you are fully dealing with an application only, not infrastructure, which is often the case when it comes to security testing. In a rapidly changing environment, the assessment tools must be able to adjust to the specific functionalities of the software itself. Nevertheless, there are certain general rules that one can follow when performing application security assessment. These general tests are defined as the following:
- Application validation must be inspected, in addition to bounds checking in order to check for erroneous or malicious code input. Client side code should be manipulated in order to see if it can withstand penetration. This also includes session configuration and information files. You should also be aware of the interaction between the different applications in the system, and if doing so can cause a security breach. Application assessment also entails getting into the mind of a hacker, and testing for all possible opportunities for a hacker to get into your system through the said application. Event logging should also be inspected, in addition to the authentication methods that the application itself uses.
- The security consultant should be able to assess any and all potential security risks that the application may have, whether it be a client-based application or part of a tiered system. The consultant will already have a number of testing scenarios in mind, all closely tied to the application’s main function in the system. Test scripts can be written to help guide the security consultant in the application testing, but given the level of customization of most applications these days, it may also be quite effective to prepare a general checklist of test questions and see if the application meets the minimum requirements.
Due to the time pressure constraints associated with software development, application security assessment may take a backseat to more pressing development concerns. However, you must bear in mind that although you are able to deliver the application in the right functional capacity at the right time, the application will ultimately be disregarded if your client finds that the application itself can be the cause of a security breach, thus compromising the entire system. If this happens, not only will you lose the application in the system, you will end up losing a valuable client as well.