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    Software Security Testing: Types, Techniques, and Standards

    Software Security Testing: Types, Techniques, and Standards

    Ilya Dudkin


    9 min read

    what is security testing

    Whenever you create a new software product, one of your primary concerns has to be its security. You must make sure that hackers, viruses, malware, and other cyber threats will not be able to wreak havoc by stealing user data, which can result in massive fines and a loss of reputation. To avoid all these issues, security testing is necessary in order to uncover potential gaps which can be exploited. Before we get into all of the different types and methods, let’s first get a definition of what is security testing.    

    Basics of Security Testing   

    Security testing is a broad term that includes all of the possible ways of identifying threats, risks, or any other vulnerabilities that could result in significant losses. Also, software testing must be able to identify the severity of the issues detected and provide detailed information on what the potential fallouts might be. This includes finding out exactly how the security gaps can be exploited, potential risks to the users and whether the system will continue to function in the event of a breach. There are many types of security testing, and each of them has their methodology. Let’s take a closer look.    

    Different Types of Security Testing   

    There are used seven main types of security tests:   

    • Vulnerability Scanning – Automated software will conduct a scan in order to uncover any potential security flaws.   
    • Security Scanning – Uncovering system and network security soft spots and providing actionable steps on reducing the risk. This test can be manual or automated.    
    • Penetration Testing – Simulating an attack from a hacker. This includes analyzing a specific system to determine possible spots that can be exploited by hackers.
    • Risk Assessment – Analyzing security risks that have been noticed inside a business. The severity of the risk is determined as either low, medium, or high. 
    • Security Auditing – Conducting an internal audit of application and operating systems for possible security gaps. This is done by going line by line of the code and finding anything suspicious. 
    • Ethical Hacking – Hacking the company’s software systems. 
    • Posture Assessment – This is a combination of Ethical Hacking, Security Scanning, and Risk Assessment to determine the overall security positioning of a company. 
    types of security testing

    Security Testing Methodology   

    There are three principal methodologies when it comes to security testing:   

    Black box testing – This involves software testers putting themselves in the shoes of hackers and try to breach the app through all kinds of methods. A lot of useful information can be obtained from this type of testing to better secure the software from external threats.    

    Dynamic Testing – Software testers audit a running application to find out how it reacts to all kinds of inputs. This is useful for finding out whether or not you are compliant with regulations currently in place.    

    Static Testing – This approach reviews the source code via an automated solution. While automating testing processes will decrease the amount of time necessary to conduct the tests, it might not be able to notice sophisticated threats which dynamic testing will be able to identify. Therefore, it is better to use static complement tests with dynamic ones.    

    When developing software for business clients, it is better to use a combination of these methodologies to make sure sensitive information remains secure.    

    Steps Involved in Software Testing   

    While all of the various types of methodologies will have their own security testing techniques, there some steps that they all have in common:   

    • Requirements – Checking any misuse and abuse cases and analyzing the security requirements 
    • Design – Coming up with a test plan which includes the security tests you plan on doing 
    • Coding and Unit Testing – Conducting static and dynamic testing 
    • Integration Testing – Black box testing 
    • System Testing – A combination of Black Box and Vulnerability scanning 
    • Implementation – Both Penetration testing and Vulnerability scanning 
    • Support – Analyzing the impact of the patchwork done 
    software security testing

    Benefits of Testing    

    If you can identify possible security risks early on, this could lead to massive cost savings. It will be much cheaper to fix all the issues during the development stage than using patching software. Generally speaking, the sooner problems are identified the cheaper they will be to fix. Also, security gaps can result in user information being stolen, which could lead to fines and damage to your reputation. Even though security testing will require time and monetary investments, you will end up saving a lot of money and headache in the long run.    

    If your product requires users to input personally identifiable information and financial data, it is imperative that they trust everything they provide will remain secure. Otherwise, regardless of how well you designed your product, or the innovative features that it has users will be wary of giving their credit card numbers, emails, addresses, and any other information. By having end-to-end security measures in place, you will be able to avoid a lot of PR problems and financial costs before they even begin. There are so many threats that are popping up nowadays that it can be challenging to keep up. If you have a lingering feeling that specific gaps in security still exist even after the test was done, consider reaching out to an external testing service, which is up to date on the latest security threats. As soon as you see how developed and advanced modern threats can be, you will be happy that you made this decision. 

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