Why Automated Application Security Testing is Essential?

  • Published on February 5, 2021

Application security is no longer an afterthought but one of the foremost considerations for organizations. Applications across platforms and industries, if not secured adequately, pose grave security threats since hackers can always find backdoors to bypass defenses or hit unpatched vulnerabilities. Given the growing number of organizations developing applications and integrating them with open-source code, the potential vulnerabilities and risks have also increased significantly. Thus, Application Security Testing (AST) has become critical for smooth operations.

A recent Magic Quadrant AST report by Gartner demonstrates that Security Testing is growing faster than any other security market. Security and risk management leaders must integrate AST into their application security programs. The need to ensure Application Security has amplified with the rising count of risks and attacks in the virtual world. This is the reason Automated AST has taken precedence and the idea of Continuous Testing and Delivery is also being endorsed.

What is Application Security Testing?

Application Security Testing (AST) enables organizations to uncover vulnerabilities of an application and determine that its data and resources are protected from possible attacks. Robust automated AST solutions blend in with the latest development methodologies and growing application complexity to ensure rigorous security of applications. AST is majorly performed after an application has been developed.

Why Automation is Imperative for Application Security Testing?

During the AST cycle, an application undergoes rigorous testing to uncover security faults and vulnerabilities. However, in certain instances, the results could be insufficient and end up disrupting the application. DevSecOps plugs this gap. It balances the AST needs by incorporating the strengths of DevOps within a Security Testing process. With this model, organizations can add security checks within the development and deployment pipelines and make everyone responsible for ensuring an application’s security. As a result, there has been a rise of various solutions that enable businesses to test application security with the DevOps outlook.

Modern-day applications are mostly complex and can be threatened due to market risks and various inherent vulnerabilities. Thus, testing has to be rigorous and iterative. DevSecOps combines the strengths of DevOps, Automation, and Security Testing. It empowers the development teams to deploy and monitor an application constantly. Consequently, implementing automation testing to enable faster results assures a better quality of applications.

AST automation enables organizations to implement Continuous Testing and Delivery and makes the testing and development process more collaborative. While the industry is still realizing the benefits of DevSecOps, it will be essential for any application development in the future. This automation approach allows organizations to strengthen Security Testing, making it more iterative, and much more agile to deal with existing digital security challenges.

Best Practices of Application Security Testing Automation

#1: Identify vulnerabilities and faults

It is always advisable to segregate the application into different parts or units before checking for vulnerabilities. Such an approach enables the team to identify failures and other loopholes in each aspect of the application. Many bugs and viruses in the cyber world enter applications through basic and unnoticed security faults. Such faults could be anything from insufficient security policies, deprived authentication, or ineffective passwords. There are vulnerability scanners for identifying hidden networks and vulnerabilities at the host.

By breaking the application into small components and running automated tests for every function, the vulnerabilities can be efficiently recognized. This is the most fundamental aspect of AST automation and allows teams to address the identified security risks and deliver a well-secured app.

#2: Integrate the best practices of Automation with DevOps

Test automation is an essential enabler of the DevOps approach. Organizations can reap the true benefits of DevOps only when automation is implemented successfully. Test automation allows organizations to implement the concept of Continuous Testing and Delivery into the software development and deployment process. The new concept of DevSecOps further boosts the idea of Security test automation through the entire test cycle.

To succeed with AST efforts, organizations need to blend Test Automation and DevOps practices with Security Testing objectives. When the Continuous Testing process is in motion, Test Automation enables teams to find the defects simultaneously, and the software release can happen continuously. And later on, during the deployment stage, when tests are in progress it allows teams to validate and ensure the security of an application.

#3: Automate Security Test efficiently

Security Testing doesn’t require any specialized treatment or approach. Automation of security tests is much like the automation of performance or functional tests. While automating AST, the tests can be categorized into functional Security tests (e.g. authentication and password generation) and non-functional Security tests (against vulnerabilities, security testing application logic, and security scanning of application and infrastructure).

The goal is to segregate the objectives for AST and automate the tests to reach the pre-defined success criteria. Reaching expected results and uncovering vulnerabilities with test automation is critical. Organizations need not be bothered about over-automation or under-automation as long as all the business-critical objectives are achieved.

#4: Test for Outbreaks or Mass Attacks

The goal behind security test automation is to prepare the application for any possibility of an outbreak or mass attack. While determining the strategy and objectives, it is essential for organizations to use test automation solutions that can protect applications from an eventual outbreak. The current state of application security is quite scary and risks can emerge from internal vulnerabilities or external ones. Leading test automation solutions periodically add better test cases and update the product to uncover new risk areas. So, choosing a robust framework for security testing is imperative for an organization.

#5: Select the most suitable Test Automation Solution

The market today is filled with various test automation solutions to promote the execution of DevOps. The right choice of tool is essential to ensure success with AST. Organizations can freeze on any test automation solution, but the product has to orchestrate well with the project objectives and security requirements. Ideally, organizations should choose an easy to use solution which can be easily leveraged by the development, operations, quality, and security teams, and can be easily incorporated into the existing test cycle to enhance the quality and security of application releases.

BeatBlip is a simple, intelligent, robust, flexible, and extensible test automation solution that’s filled with features to take your test automation to an entirely new level. It has been helping organizations transform their testing practices, find defects faster, strengthen application security, and speed up software delivery – all the while saving costs. Request a trial of BeatBlip today.

According to a Lloyd study, global cyber-attacks and virus threats could result in damages of $53.1 billion to $121.4 billion. The growing risks of cyber-attacks and virus threats have reinforced the need for rigorous Application Security Testing across every industry. Today, every organization should invest in building a comprehensive Automated AST strategy to secure all business-critical applications.