Web Penetration Testing Methodology

PenTest, also known as, is the most popular security testing method for web applications.

Web Application Penetration Testing simulates unauthorized attacks internally and externally in order to gain sensitive data access.

Web penetration allows end-users to find out if hackers have access to their data via the internet. They can also find out how secure their email servers are.

Let’s get to the point.

I tried to cover in this penetration testing tutorial.

  • Pentest is essential for web application testing
  • Pentest standard methodology is available
  • Pentesting web applications:
  • What types of testing can we perform?
  • Here are the steps to take to conduct a penetration test
  • Test tools
  • Some of the penetration testing services providers are:
  • Some certifications for web penetration testing

Why is penetration testing required?

When talking about security, the most popular word that we hear is vulnerability.

My first job as a security tester was when I got confused a lot with the word vulnerability. I’m sure many of my readers would be in the same boat.

To benefit all my readers, I will explain the difference between pen-testing and vulnerability.

What is Vulnerability? Vulnerability refers to the term used to identify security flaws within a system that could expose it to threats.

Pen Testing or Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning allows the user to identify known vulnerabilities in an application and then determine ways to improve its security. It checks for security patches and determines if the systems are configured properly to prevent attacks.

Pen tests simulate real-time systems. They help users determine if the system is accessible by unauthorized users. If yes, what data can be lost and what damages can be done.

Vulnerability Scanning, which is a method to detect weaknesses in security programs and suggest ways to improve them, is different from a pen test, which is a preventive control method. It gives an overview of the security layer that is currently in place.

Both methods are important, but it all depends on the purpose of the testing.

Before we start testing, testers must be clear about the purpose of their testing. Once you know what your objective is, it will be easier to determine if pen-testing or vulnerability scanning are required.

The importance of Web App Pen Testing and why it is important:

  • Pentest helps to identify unknown vulnerabilities.
  • This helps to verify the effectiveness of security policies.
  • You can help test the components that are publicly available, such as firewalls, routers and DNS.
  • Users can identify the most vulnerable route by which an attack could be carried out
  • This service assists in identifying loopholes that could lead to the theft sensitive data.

The current market demand shows a significant increase in mobile use, which makes it a potential target for attacks. Mobile phones are more vulnerable to attacks, and therefore can be used to compromise data.

Penetration Testing is crucial in order to ensure that users can use the system without worrying about hacking or data loss.

Web Penetration Testing Methodology

The methodology is nothing more than a set security industry guidelines for how testing should be done. Although there are many well-known and respected standards and methodologies that can be used to test web applications, each application requires different types of testing. Testers can use these standards to create their own methods.

Some of the Security Testing Methodologies & Standards are:

  • OWASP Open Web Application Security Project
  • OSSTMM Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual
  • PTF – Penetration Testing Framework
  • ISSAF (Information Systems Security Assessment Framework)
  • DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

Test Scenarios:

Below are some test scenarios that can be used in Web Application Testing (WAPT).

  1. Cross-Site Scripting
  2. SQL Injection
  3. Session management and broken authentication
  4. Upload flaws
  5. Caching Servers Attacks
  6. Security Misconfigurations
  7. Cross-Site Request Forgery
  8. Password cracking

Although I have provided the list, testers shouldn’t blindly base their test methods on these standards.

Here’s an example that will prove my point.

Now, imagine that you’re asked to penetrate test an eCommerce site. Consider if all vulnerabilities can be identified by OWASP using conventional methods like SQL injection and XSS.

No, eCommerce uses a different platform and technology than other websites. To make pen testing an eCommerce website more effective, testers need to design a method that includes flaws such as Order Management, Coupon Management, Reward Management and Payment Gateway Integration.

Before you choose the method, make sure to know what websites will be tested and which methods are most effective in identifying vulnerabilities.

Different types of web penetration testing

Two ways can web applications be penetrated. You can simulate an inside attack or an external attack with tests.

#1) Internal Penetration Testing

Internal pen testing, as the name implies, is performed within an organization over LAN. It also includes testing web applications hosted on intranet.

This allows you to determine if the firewall is vulnerable.

Attacks can only occur externally, so we believe that internal Pentests are often overlooked or given little importance.

It includes malicious employee attacks by disgruntled workers or contractors who would not have resigned, but are aware and follow internal security policies and passwords. Social Engineering Attacks. Simulation of Phishing Attacks. Attacks using User Privileges.

Accessing the environment with no credentials is the best way to test it.

#2) External Penetration Testing

These attacks are external attacks that come from outside the organization. They include testing web applications on the internet.

Testers act like hackers, who don’t have much knowledge of the internal system.

Testers are provided with the IP address of the target system. They do not need to provide any additional information. They must search for and scan public websites to find information about target hosts, and then compromise those hosts.

It includes firewalls, testing servers, and IDS.

Web Pen Testing Approach

It can be done in three phases:

#1) Planning Phase (Before testing)

It is a good idea to plan the types and methods of testing before you start testing. Also, consider whether additional tools are needed by QA.

  • Scope definition The same thing as functional testing, where we define the scope before starting to test.
  • Testers’ Documentation – Make sure that Testers have all required documents, such as documents detailing the web architecture and integration points. The HTTP/HTTPS protocol basics should be understood by the tester. They also need to know the Web Application Architecture, traffic interception methods, and the Web Application Architecture.
  • Determining the Success Criteria – Unlike our functional test cases, where we can derive expected results from user requirements/functional requirements, pen-testing works on a different model. The success criteria, or criteria for passing a test case must be established and approved.
  • Examining test results from previous testing – It is a good idea to look at test results in order to identify vulnerabilities and determine what steps were taken to fix them. This gives you a better idea of the testers.
  • Understand the environment – Testers need to understand the environment before they can start testing. This will enable them to understand firewalls and other security protocols that would need to be disabled in order to conduct the testing. The browsers that are to be tested must be made into an attack platform. This is usually done by changing proxy addresses.

#2) Attacks/Execution Phase (During Testing):

Web penetration testing can be performed from anywhere, provided that there are no restrictions on the ports or services offered by the internet provider.

  • Run a test with multiple user roles. Testers must ensure that they run tests with users with different roles, as the system could behave differently if users have different privileges.
  • Awareness about how to handle Post-Exploitation. Testers should follow the Success Criteria in Phase 1 to report any exploits. The defined reporting process for vulnerabilities discovered during testing should be followed. This involves the tester determining what to do after discovering that the system is compromised.
  • Generating Test Reports – Testing without proper reporting is a waste of time. This holds true for web application penetration testing. Testers should prepare reports that include details about vulnerabilities discovered, testing methodology, severity, and location. This will ensure that test results are shared with all parties.

#3) After Testing (Post Execution Phase)

After testing is completed and all teams have received the reports, everyone should work on the following list:

  • Suggest remediation. Pen testing should not end with identifying vulnerabilities. A member of the QA team should review the Tester’s findings and discuss the possible remediation.
  • Test Vulnerabilities – Once the remediation has been completed and implemented, testers need to retest to verify that the corrected vulnerabilities have not returned.
  • Cleanup As part of the Pentest testers make changes in the proxy settings. It is important to clean up and have all the changes reverted back.

Top Penetration Testing tools

You have read the entire article so you should have a better understanding of how to penetration test a website application.

Let me know if you can manually do penetration testing or if it is automated using a tool. Automation is the overwhelming consensus, I believe. 🙂

Automation is faster, eliminates human error, provides excellent coverage and many other benefits. However, the Pen Test requires manual testing.

Manual testing is a great way to find vulnerabilities in Business Logic and reduce false positives.

The tools can give false positives a lot, so manual intervention is necessary to determine if there are any vulnerabilities.

To automate testing, tools are available. Below is a list of tools that can be used to perform Pentest.

  1. Free Pen Testing Tool
  2. Veracode
  3. Vega
  4. Burp Suite
  5. NetSparker
  6. Arachni
  7. Acunetix
  8. ZAP

Top Penetration Testing Companies

Service providers are companies that provide services to meet the testing needs of organizations. They are often experts in testing and can test in their own testing environment.

Below are the top companies that offer penetration testing services.

  • PSC (Payments Security Compliance).
  • Netragard
  • Securestate
  • CoalFire
  • HIGHBIT Security
  • Nettitude
  • 360
  • NetSPi
  • ControlScan
  • Skods Minotti
  • 2|Sec
  • Security Assessment
  • Security Audit Systems
  • Hacklabs
  • CQR

Certificates for penetration testing

You can choose from the following certifications if you’re interested in becoming certified in web application penetration certification:

  • OSWE – Offensive Security Web Expert
  • GWAPT (GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester)
  • CWAPT (Certified Web App Penetration Tester)
  • eWPT [elearnSecurity Website Application Penetration Tester]


This tutorial will give you an overview of the process of penetration testing web applications.

This information is essential for the penetration tester to begin vulnerability testing.

Penetration testing is a great way to create secure software. Penetration testing is expensive so it can only be done once per year.

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