According to a study by IBM, the global average cost of a data breach for businesses is $4.35 million. This includes the cost of notifications, legal expenses, loss of customers, and other associated costs. This figure more than doubles to about $9.44 million for businesses in the United States alone. Given the high cost of data breaches and the many risks of security vulnerabilities, cybersecurity tests are no doubt valuable to businesses of all sizes. Organizations can identify and address potential vulnerabilities before attackers exploit them, thereby reducing the risk of a data breach, by conducting security testing.
Several methods are used for cybersecurity testing, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will examine some of the most common cybersecurity testing methods used today.
What is Cybersecurity Testing?
Cybersecurity testing, also known as information security testing, is the process of evaluating the security of computer systems, networks, and applications to protect against unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of sensitive information. The goal of cybersecurity testing is to identify and mitigate potential security risks and vulnerabilities in a system or network before they can be exploited by attackers.
Cybersecurity testing involves a variety of techniques, such as vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, ethical hacking, network security testing, and application security testing. These techniques aim to simulate real-world attacks and evaluate the ability of your system to resist such attacks. The results of the testing are used to develop and implement security measures to reduce the risk of security breaches.
It’s important to note that cybersecurity testing is an ongoing process and not a one-time event. With the constant evolution of technology and the increasing sophistication of attackers, it is essential to regularly assess the security of your systems and applications to ensure that they remain protected against new threats.
Types of Cybersecurity Testing
There are several types of security testing that organizations can perform to identify and address security risks. Some of the most common types include:
1. Vulnerability Scanning
This is a method of identifying potential security vulnerabilities in a computer system or network. Vulnerability scans typically involve the use of software tools that automate the process of identifying known security weaknesses. These tools may perform a variety of tests, including port scans, application scans, and database scans. Security teams usually present the results of the scan in the form of a report that lists the vulnerabilities found, assesses their severity, and recommends a course of action for remediation.
It’s important to note that vulnerability scanning is just one component of a comprehensive security program, and it should be combined with other security measures, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and patch management, to provide a complete and effective defense against attacks.
2. Penetration Testing
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a simulated attack on a computer system or network. It is a form of ethical hacking and can be performed manually or with the use of automated tests. This method is more thorough than vulnerability scans, but it can also be more time-consuming and may require specialized skills.
Penetration testers use a variety of techniques to find security holes in an organization’s systems. They then attempt to exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or systems. The results of a penetration test can help organizations to better understand the risks they face and make informed decisions about how to improve their security posture.
3. Application Security Testing
This type of cybersecurity testing focuses on evaluating the security of individual applications, such as web applications, mobile apps, and software applications. Security attacks and penetration tests are frequently used in application security testing to find inbuilt security issues like buffer overflows or SQL injection vulnerabilities.
When conducting application security testing, testers subject the product interfaces to erroneous inputs and unusual user behavior. They also test for Denial of Service (DoS) scenarios and implement necessary security measures to address the weaknesses that the testing reveals if the application crashes.
Software testing utilizes a variety of automated tools and techniques. These include:
1. Static Application Security Testing (SAST)
Static Application Security Testing is a method of analyzing application source code to identify gaps before the application is deployed. SAST tools work by analyzing the source code of an application without executing it, and they typically generate reports that highlight areas of the code that may be vulnerable to attack.
2. Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST)
During dynamic analysis, the security team performs security checks while actually running or executing the code or application under review. DAST tools do not have access to source codes. Instead, they use a technique known as fuzzing to conduct actual attacks in order to find vulnerabilities. In fuzzing, the tester sends a large number of random or semi-random inputs to the application’s interface. The security team monitors the application for any crashes, exceptions, or other unexpected behavior that may indicate the presence of a security vulnerability
3. Interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)
This is a hybrid approach that combines elements of both SAST and DAST. IAST tools work by instrumenting the application code and executing it, allowing them to detect both static and dynamic security vulnerabilities in real-time.
4. Software Composition Analysis (SCA)
Security teams use Software Composition Analysis (SCA) to manage and secure open-source components. Testing teams can use SCA to quickly track and analyze the open-source components deployed in their projects.
4. Risk Assessment
A cybersecurity risk assessment examines an organization’s various security controls and possible threats that might exist within them. These assessments are thorough procedures that evaluate existing risks and develop plans for mitigating them. Techniques like threat modeling can be used to analyze the potential for a threat to exploit flaws in an organization’s network during a risk assessment. Security teams use the results of the assessments to prioritize security risks based on the likelihood of occurrence and the impact they would have if they occurred.
5. Red Team/Blue Team Exercises
Red team/blue team exercises are simulation exercises that test the security of a computer system or network. The red team simulates a real-world attack, while the blue team defends the system. These exercises are valuable for testing the effectiveness of security measures and for identifying potential vulnerabilities in the system. However, they can also be time-consuming and may require significant resources.
Security Testing Tools
There are various types of cybersecurity testing tools available that can be used to evaluate the security of computer systems, networks, and applications. The specific security needs of an organization and the type of testing being performed determine the choice of tool. Some of the most common cybersecurity testing tools include:
1. Web Application Firewalls (WAFs)
WAFs are security tools that protect web applications by analyzing and blocking malicious traffic. They can help to prevent attacks such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS).
2. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS)
IDPS monitors network traffic to detect and prevent unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of sensitive information.
3. Configuration Management Tools
Configuration management tools help organizations maintain secure configurations for their systems and applications. These tools can automate the deployment of security patches, monitor system configurations for changes, and alert administrators of any deviations from approved configurations.
4. Source Code Analysis Tools
Source code analysis tools automate the process of analyzing source code for potential security vulnerabilities, such as buffer overflows, memory leaks, and SQL injection.
5. Authentication and Authorization Tools
Authentication and authorization tools help your organization to securely manage user authentication and authorization for access to systems and applications. These tools can include password managers, multi-factor authentication systems, and access control systems.
With the increasing sophistication of cyberattacks and the growing importance of data security, effective security testing is more important than ever. By adopting the right combination of cybersecurity testing methods, you can minimize the risk of data breaches, protect your organization’s reputation, and ensure the security of your customer’s sensitive information.
You can get real-time insight into your security program’s effectiveness year-round with Randori’s cybersecurity testing tools. We help your security teams identify issues, prioritize investments, and validate your real-world risks.