Security Testing

Kamil Imtiaz - December 6, 2022

What Is Security Testing?

Security testing is a type of software testing that identifies potential security risks and vulnerabilities in applications, systems and networks.

Security testing is an essential part of the software development lifecycle. The goal of security testing is to uncover any weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive data or interrupt system operations.

The Importance of Security Testing

While application security testing is one of the first steps toward the goal of better security, there are several other benefits of testing.

Security testing can increase your uptime and net productivity. Cleaning up after a security lapse is always more labor-intensive than preventing one in the first place. Think about how many companies worldwide have faced class action lawsuits for data breaches. Compare those settlements to the cost of bringing an ethical hacker onto your team.

If industries that are subject to strict privacy regulations use your software, security testing can also help you remain compliant with these regulations. For instance, a firm that creates medical software in the United States needs to stay compliant with the HIPAA, and one that does business in Europe needs to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Integrating a robust culture of security risk assessments and taking the time to “think like a hacker” not only improves your software’s security, but the quality of its code as well. Taking the extra time to review your code for vulnerabilities gives you the opportunity to spot other errors as well.

Types of Security Testing

There are five different forms of security testing, each of which has a different methodology and purpose. Ideally, you will use a combination of these techniques as needed.

  • Penetration testing (ethical hacking) simulates an actual cyberattack to test specific systems for vulnerability.
  • Security scanning either manually or automatically looks for system flaws in new code.
  • Vulnerability scanning checks your software against lists of known vulnerabilities.
  • Security auditing is a line-by-line examination of your code that reveals any security holes that you may have previously missed.
  • Security risk assessments focus on reducing external threats, categorizing them as “low,” “medium” or “high.”

Security Testing Principles

Just as there are many ways to test your information security, there are many different attributes to test. The seven main principles of security testing are:

  • Authentication: focuses on ensuring that users are identified
  • Authorization: provides a user access to a system
  • Confidentiality: verifies that information is only available as intended
  • Availability: minimizes downtime and keeps data available to authorized users
  • Integrity: concerned with preserving information that is transmitted
  • Non-repudiation: confirms the validity of denied access requests
  • Resilience: a system’s total resistance to attacks

Example Security Testing Scenarios

Below are some common use cases for security testing:

  1. Verifying the server’s TLS/SSL configuration
  2. Testing for known vulnerabilities in the web application, such as SQL injection, XSS, and CSRF
  3. Performing static code analysis to verify that security best practices are being followed
  4. Testing for the presence and strength of authentication and authorization controls
  5. Performing penetration testing to identify potential weaknesses in the security architecture
  6. Ensuring that access control mechanisms are in place and correctly configured
  7. Performing data leakage tests to identify any sensitive information that may be inadvertently leaked
  8. Testing for the presence of a secure audit trail
  9. Verifying the strength and complexity of passwords
  10. Assessing whether the application is adequately protected against denial of service attacks

Learn More

Learn how CrowdStrike’s threat hunters uncover attempts to exfiltrate data using domain names associated with out-of-band application security testing (OAST) tools.Read

Common Security Testing Tools

Below are some of the most common tools used to conduct security tests:

  1. Burp Suite
  2. Acunetix
  3. Nmap
  4. Qualys
  5. Wireshark
  6. Metasploit
  7. Nessus
  8. Nikto
  9. Aircrack-ng


Kamil has 25+ years of experience in cybersecurity, especially in network security, advanced cyber threat protection, security operations and threat intelligence. Having been in various product management and marketing positions at companies like Juniper, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Zscaler and other cutting-edge startups, he brings a unique perspective to how organizations can drastically reduce their cyber risks with CrowdStrike’s Falcon Exposure Management.