Top 5 Most Powerful Web Application Penetration Testing Tools

Web Application Penetration Testing

Learn about the top web application penetration testing tools, what they are, and how they are used.

Web Application Penetration Testing

Web applications form the very basis of internet services. These readily accessible services offer a lot of convenience and ease of use. From banking to healthcare, we have web or mobile apps for nearly every aspect of our personal or business lives.

As web applications collect, process, store, and retrieve a lot of sensitive data, they are often the target of malicious code writers. Hunting and exploiting vulnerabilities within web applications are very lucrative. Hence, it is important to plug these vulnerabilities and gaps before they are exploited. This requires penetration testing tools.

Performing a Web App Penetration Testing not only demands extensive expertise but also a significant amount of time. With proper tools, a red team (penetration tester) can automate several tasks and focus solely on discovering any new exploitable vulnerabilities.

What is Web App Penetration Testing?

At its core, Web App Penetration Testing is the process of proactively identifying application vulnerabilities. This is done by “ethical hacking”. It basically means qualified and authorized ‘White Hat’ hackers attempt to hack into architecture, designs and configuration of web applications. The eventual goal is to plug loopholes, vulnerabilities and other exploitable aspects within a web application.

There are a few standardized tests, and they can involve attempted attacks at specific system targets like APIs, servers and other application components. In other words, penetration tests can be automated with software applications, or they can be performed manually.

In the case of manual pen-testing, trained personnel try and uncover security vulnerabilities that can make the entire infrastructure susceptible to attacks. After the end of the test, experts generate useful insights and companies can use them to fine-tune the existing security systems and patch detected loopholes.

Who Performs Web Application Penetration Testing?

As mentioned before, Penetration Testing is not just standardized tools or software. Web App Penetration tests are routinely performed by network security experts known as pen-testers.

Pen-testers work hard to find vulnerabilities across the target organization’s information security systems. Penetration testers are expected to not only hunt and expose security lapses or backdoors but also drive useful insights through these tests and help security professionals of the target organization in patching all the discovered threats.

Good ReadRed Team vs Penetration Testing Understanding the Difference

Without a doubt, pen-testers possess a lot of creativity and technical expertise in matters related to security. Their job extends way beyond discovering vulnerabilities. Their discoveries and even mere observations can help better secure web applications from digital threats.

What are Web App Penetration testing tools used for?

Web Application Penetration Testing

Speaking of digital threats, web applications are always available online. While this is an expected convenience, their perpetual presence often allows malicious code writers to experiment and hunt for security loopholes.

Web Penetration Testing Tools have quite a wide scope. These tools are often useful for the following purposes: 

·        Identify unknown vulnerabilities

·        Check the effectiveness of the existing security policies

·        Test publicly exposed components, including firewalls, routers, and DNS

·        Determine the most vulnerable route for an attack

·        Look for loopholes that could lead to the data theft

In addition to the aforementioned purposes, penetration tests can also be utilized to prove compliance with an organization’s security policy. Companies use pen-testing to raise safety awareness of their staff and users. Web App Penetration Testing Tools help organizations discover and patch security vulnerabilities before hackers or malicious code writers. Overall, companies can significantly improve their security posture.

Best Web App Penetration Testing Tools:

As mentioned above there are quite a few Web App Penetration Testing Tools available. Some are free while some require subscription and/or upfront fees. A good penetration testing tool isn’t the one that quickly cycles through obvious aspects. Instead, a good tool, and professional white hacker team, methodically and meticulously crawl through multiple aspects of a web application slowly and hunt for elusive vulnerabilities.

Any experienced professional will strongly advise never to depend solely on anyone hacking software for performing an intrusion. However, it is essential to be well acquainted with the standard tools of the trade. Here are some of the popular web application penetration testing software tools.

Appknox:

Web Application Penetration Testing Tools

Appknox is considered one of the most reliable market solutions for Penetration Testing attempts to identify insecure business logic, security setting vulnerabilities, or other weaknesses that a threat actor could exploit. Critical factors like transmission of unencrypted passwords or password reuse are checked in real-time with the advanced Appknox penetration testing solutions.

Appknox is one of the most reliable platforms that proactively assess security threats, and help improve an organization’s security preparedness and threat response. Pen-testing is just one of the several products Appknox offers.

Nmap:

Web Application Penetration Testing Tools

Network Mapper or Nmap is a free and open-source utility for network discovery and security auditing. Nmap is the most preferred tool for port scanning. It can effectively and quickly scan both large as well as small networks for threats. 

Nmap is generally used in the preliminary steps during more thorough VAPT audits to find out which network ports are susceptible to serious threats. Needless to mention, Nmap is not a comprehensive Web App Penetration Tool but it is an important starting point.

Nessus:

Nessus, on the other hand, is a comprehensive vulnerability scanner. It is a popular and paid VAPT audit tool that offers fast security scans. It quickly processes some common, as well as exceptional vulnerabilities like open ports, configuration flaws, and password errors. These common vulnerabilities can then be fixed easily using Nessus. 

It can also perform detailed website scans, sensitive data searches, IP scans and compliance checks. Overall, Nessus is a good platform to identify vulnerabilities, configuration issues and even malware on web applications.

Burp Suite:

Burp Suite is preferred by security experts for the broad and yet thorough assessment of web-based applications. It is an integrated platform used for testing the security of web applications.

Burp Suite can quickly perform the initial mapping and analysis of an application’s attack surface. However, experienced pen-testers can use the platform to find and exploit security vulnerabilities.

It intercepts web traffic between client and web server by acting as an effective proxy tool and analyzes the responses and requests to carry out key security tests. Both licensed and open-source versions of this tool are available in the market.

As the name implies, Burp Suite is a collection of tools. It contains components such as Intercepting proxy, Application-aware spider, Advanced web application scanner, Intruder, Repeater, and Sequencer tool.

Here is a small demo on how to find vulnerabilities using Burpsuite

Metasploit:

Metasploit is widely considered one of the leading penetration testing frameworks across the globe. In fact, Metasploit is a framework and not a specific application. This means it is possible to build custom tools for specific tasks.

Supported by Rapid7, and available in free-to-use and paid versions, Metasploit can be used on servers, networks and applications as well. This tool has a basic command-line interface. However, it works well on Windows, Apple Mac OS, and Linux.

Expert pen-testers claim Metasploit is quite simple to use. They offer a simple to understand list of common steps for exploiting any target:

  • Selecting and configuring the exploit to be targeted
  • Selecting and configuring the payload that will be used
  • Selecting and configuring the encoding schema that will be used for trying to evade intrusion detection systems (IPSs)
  • Executing the exploit

Conclusion

In the modern workspace with remote working and services, businesses need to be cyber aware and proactive towards the security of their organization and end-users. Hence it is strongly advised to deploy multiple automated and manual methods to keep web applications protected.

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Harshit Agarwal

Harshit Agarwal

Author bio- Harshit Agarwal is co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps Enterprises and Financial institutions to automate mobile security. Over the last 6 years, Harshit has worked with over 300+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 500 companies to setup security practices helping organisations secure their mobile applications and speed up the time for security testing.