What is OWASP Penetration Testing and How to Do It?

What is OWASP Penetration Testing and How to Do It?

OWASP is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving the security of software and processes for individuals and businesses. OWASP is dedicated to encouraging the open, free exchange of information security knowledge. OWASP global projects focus on improving application security by identifying and prioritizing application security-relevant threats, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures through consensus initiatives.

While doing a penetration test for your application, you can follow the guidelines provided by OWASP which includes a wide number of tests and a solid framework for conducting a comprehensive pentest for your application.

While there are lots of blogs that talk about OWASP’s top 10 guides for penetration testers, however, this blog is going to give you a bunch of steps that you should follow while conducting OWASP Penetration Testing for an organization. It will be beneficial if readers can go through the existing OWASP Top Ten vulnerability list and OWASP’s Testing Guide V4.

What are OWASP Top 10 Risks (2021)?

OWASP Top 10 Risks are the most critical application security risks. OWASP has recently published its Top 10 risks in the year 2021.

OWASP Top 10 – 2021 include:

  1. Broken Access Control
  2. Cryptographic Failures
  3. Injection
  4. Insecure Design
  5. Security Misconfiguration
  6. Vulnerable and Outdated Components
  7. Identification and Authentication Failures
  8. Software and Data Integrity Failures
  9. Security Logging and Monitoring Failures
  10. Server-Side Request Forgery

What is OWASP penetration testing?

OWASP penetration testing is a procedure conducted by organizations or individual security professionals or teams to pentest their applications against the top 10 security risks provided by OWASP (mentioned above).

Why OWASP penetration testing?

By using the OWASP Testing Framework, you can be assured of a high level of web application security assessment coverage for OWASP Top 10 Risks. OWASP Testing Framework (v2) is an OWASP Governance project and OWASP Penetration Testing Guide (v2) will be the new OWASP Penetration testing guideline after Jan 2019. If you follow OWASP top list and OWASP testing framework, your web applications will be more secure and less vulnerable against OWASP top risks and OWASP testing types.

Benefits of OWASP penetration testing:

  1. Common criteria for measuring security of Web Applications
  2. Auditing tools are freely available in market
  3. Auditing Tools are well documented in OWASP Testing Guide (v3). OWASP tools are easy to use. OWASP Testing Guide (v3) provides OWASP testing tool usage guidelines for manual/automated tools. OWASP penetration testing framework provides OWASP testing tool usage guidelines in OWASP Penetration Testing Guide (v2)
  4. OWASP is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on improving the security of software and processes for individuals and businesses. OWASP is dedicated to encouraging the open, free exchange of information security knowledge. OWASP global projects focus on improving application security by identifying and prioritizing application security-relevant threats, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures through consensus initiatives
  5. OWASP top 10 list represents some of the OWASP penetration testing guidelines for OWASP Testing Framework

What is OWASP Top 10 penetration testing guideline document?

Top 10 OWASP penetration testing guidelines is a document that OWASP community members have been developing since OWASP’s inception. It documents the key security problems from the application layer and gives a clear description of how to confirm whether your application is secure enough or not. OWASP penetration testing helps organizations in securing their applications by identifying common vulnerabilities, risks, and threats.

OWASP penetration testing guidelines will help developers in building secure software applications such as web applications, mobile apps, etc. OWASP standards provide development guidance for secure coding practices that can be integrated within standard development methodologies such as Agile & Waterfall before the project even starts its journey so it can be OWASP compliant and OWASP secure application development projects will improve security across the software development life cycle.

OWASP Penetration Testing Framework

OWASP Testing Framework helps application security and penetration testers and developers and architects and managers to identify potential security vulnerabilities at the earliest stages of development. It documents solid practices for secure software development, static code analysis, dynamic testing, web services testing, mobile devices testing and provides a well-defined process that aligns security activities with business needs to help organizations deliver robust applications that satisfy stringent security requirements.

The OWASP testing framework can be used to conduct OWASP penetration testing. OWASP testing framework has OWASP top ten testing techniques that are listed below:

–  Exploitation of Authentication Vulnerabilities

–  Brute Force Password Testing

–  Automated SQL injection scanning tools for web applications

–  Scanning Web Services & WSDL files for vulnerabilities

–  Testing for Server-Side Template Injection (SSTI)

–  Testing for Server-Side Functionality Vulnerabilities in Libraries and Third Party Applications Used by the webpage under test (Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities).

– Client-side testing (OWAG Top 10 Penetration Testing Guide)

– Testing Web-based Email Servers for Spam Issues [OWAG Top 10 Penetration Testing Guide]

OWASP penetration testing methodology

  1. Accessing the target application
  2. Information Gathering
  3. Vulnerability Analysis
  4. Exploiting Vulnerabilities
  5. Report generation and presentation to clients with remediation guidelines
  6. Accessing the Target Application: In this step, you need to gain access to the intended application where its web pages can be accessed using a browser or any other client that would provide an interface for accessing the application. The tools used for crawling web applications are usually Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search engines, or any search engine of your choice depending upon your OS and installed plugins on your machine. 
  7. Information Gathering: This step is the prerequisite for every penetration test in which a lot of information related to the application is gathered in terms of its web application structure, technologies used in the back-end and front-end, supported platforms, technologies offered by third parties, etc.
  8. Vulnerability Analysis: In this step, you need to identify all vulnerabilities found during Information gathering with exploitability and impact ratings.
  9. Exploiting Vulnerabilities: The exploitation phase is the most important part of penetration testing where manual techniques are being used to attack identified vulnerabilities using tools such as Metasploit, Immunity Security, Core Impact Pro, etc.
  10. Report Generation and Presentation to Clients: In this step, the vulnerability analysis is done and a draft report is generated for review by the client. The final report should include all vulnerabilities found along with remediation guidelines that would help determine the risk associated with each vulnerability found after exploitation has been carried out.

OWASP penetration testing framework can be used to conduct OWASP’s top ten security testing as well as other custom test cases related to web application security. It helps testers become more efficient as they can check all possible threats in a single platform which saves time & effort to find similar bugs manually. Hence, for organizations looking to secure their applications, it is recommended that they should conduct OWASP penetration testing.

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