What is Application security auditing?
Application security auditing is the process of evaluating the security of an application to identify vulnerabilities and threats that may lead to security breaches. This involves reviewing the code, configuration, and architecture of an application to determine its level of security and to identify areas where security can be improved.
An application security audit tries to analyse an application’s security posture and uncover vulnerabilities and flaws that attackers could exploit. The elements of an application security audit can vary depending on the unique criteria and scope of the audit. However, here are some common components that are often included:
- Scope and Objectives: Clearly identify the audit’s scope, including the specific applications or systems to be reviewed, as well as the audit’s objectives. Provide a high-level overview of the application, including its purpose, architecture, and technology stack. This helps auditors comprehend the application’s context and potential security vulnerabilities. During this phase the process is also defined for auditing web application, API or Cloud.
- Threat Modelling: Use threat modelling to discover potential risks and attack vectors unique to the application. This includes investigating the design, functioning, and potential vulnerabilities of the application.
- Authentication and Authorization: Evaluate the authentication and authorization processes in the application. This involves going over password restrictions, session management, role-based access controls, and any external web application security software systems that are in use for authentication.
- Architecture and Design Review: From a security standpoint, evaluate the application’s architecture and design. Examining the network architecture, data flows, access controls, authentication systems, and encryption protocols are all part of this.
- Code Review: Conduct a thorough review of the application’s source code to uncover coding faults and security problems. Examining code logic, input validation, output encoding, error handling, and other security-related coding practises is part of this process.
- Data Security: Consider how the programme manages sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) or financial information. This includes an examination of data storage practises, encryption practises, data access rules, and data sanitization methods.
- Check how the programme validates and sanitises user input to prevent typical security vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and command injection. Examine the application’s output encoding to prevent XSS and other injection threats.
- Handling Errors and Logging: Examine the error handling processes of the programme, including how problems are handled, logged, and displayed to users. Examine error messages for potential information leakage or sensitive data disclosure.
- Session Management: Consider how the programme handles user sessions, such as session creation, management, and termination. Examine for session fixation, hijacking, and session timeout flaws.
- Examine how the application encrypts important data during transfer for security. Examine the use of secure communication protocols such as HTTPS, SSL/TLS, and encryption parameter setup.
- Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Scanning: Perform automated vulnerability scanning and manual penetration testing on the application to uncover any known vulnerabilities or possible security flaws. This entails replicating real-world attack situations in order to put the application’s defences to the test.
- Regulatory and Compliance Requirements: Ascertain that the application adheres to appropriate security standards, industry best practises, and any special regulatory requirements, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the PCI DSS.
- Reporting: In a detailed audit report, document the findings, vulnerabilities, and recommendations. The report should provide a prioritised list of vulnerabilities depending on their severity, as well as recommended mitigation methods and concrete activities to improve the security of the application.
- Identifying vulnerabilities: It assists organisations in identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their applications that attackers may exploit. Organisations can take actions to mitigate these vulnerabilities and improve the overall security of their apps by detecting them.
- Reducing the risk of security breaches: It helps decrease the risk of security breaches by detecting and fixing security flaws. This can assist organisations in avoiding financial losses, reputational harm, and legal liability.
- Improving overall security posture: By finding and correcting security vulnerabilities, application security auditing assists organisations in improving their overall security posture. This can assist organisations in staying ahead of evolving threats and ensuring the security of their applications.
- Cost-effective: It is a low-cost technique for organisations to uncover security flaws and vulnerabilities in their applications. Organisations can avoid the high costs associated with security breaches by discovering these vulnerabilities early on.
- Compliance: It can assist organisations in meeting regulatory and industry standards. Organisations can guarantee that their apps satisfy the needed security standards by discovering and fixing security vulnerabilities.
Application Security Audit Approach
We created our own auditing approach by following the OWASP top 10 guidelines. We understand that automatic tools are insufficient, so it is supported by manual protection testing in opposition to the application. The auditing procedure is as follows:
- Audit planning.
- Assessment and identification of risks.
- Determination of levels of control.
- What steps must be taken to overcome those.