Security testing is effectively a type of software testing that is performed to verify whether or not the application or, in a broader sense, the product is secure. They check whether the application is vulnerable to attacks, either through the Internet - also known as cyber attacks - or through direct access - also known as physical attacks. In the age of digitalization, in an era where sensitive information and data is available in digital form, the need to test software for security is high and a factor that is included in the economic calculation of software development. This is because deficiencies in software security have a direct impact on the business ability of software-driven companies.
What Is a Security Test?
Security tests are a process that aims to uncover vulnerabilities in the security mechanisms of an information system that protect data and maintain functionality as intended. Typical security requirements may include specific elements of confidentiality, integrity, authentication, availability, authorisation and privacy. The security requirements actually tested depend on the security requirements implemented by the system. Security testing as a term has a number of different meanings and can be completed in different ways. Such a security taxonomy helps us to understand these different approaches and meanings by providing a basic level from which we can work.
Why Do We Need Security Testing?
Although in the past, security was considered a nice-to-have feature, and risk management was used to assess whether to invest in the security of the software, today security is a necessary feature that is indispensable in the design of software-based products. This has two reasons. On the one hand, the awareness for IT security has increased. Customers and users of software products - be it in the B2B area or in the B2C area - are aware of the consequences that are connected with the misuse of sensitive information, customer or company data. As a manufacturer or distributor of software products nowadays, there is no way around having a good answer to the question "What about security", even if it is a cost factor in development. On the other hand, the legislator is pushing the minimum requirements for IT security through various data protection and data security regulations. The current version of the IT security law
from the Federal Gazette states
Operators of critical infrastructures in the energy, information technology and telecommunications, transport and traffic, health, water, food, finance and insurance sectors must meet minimum requirements for IT security and report significant IT security incidents to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).
In other words, software products in certain domains must already meet certain security requirements according to the legislator. There is a clear trend, both at national and EU level, to extend this to other domains, including private users
What Is the Challenge in Security Testing?
Security testing is not only penetration testing, which is the most common form of security testing. A penetration test, colloquially known as pentesting or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated cyber attack on a computer system that is performed to evaluate the security of the application or system. The test is performed to identify both vulnerabilities, including the possibility that unauthorized persons could gain access to the functions and data of the endpoint or system, and strengths, which allows a complete risk assessment to be performed.
A security audit is a systematic assessment of the security of a company's information system by measuring how well it meets a set of defined criteria. A thorough audit typically assesses the security of the physical configuration and environment of the system, software, information processing processes and user practices. Security audits are often used to determine regulatory compliance with laws (such as HIPAA, SHIELD, CCPA, DSGVO, BSI Grundschutz, ISO/IEC 27001) that specify how organizations must handle information.
While penetration tests as well as security audits are usually applied to software-based systems that are already in productive operation, the trend of continuous security testing is increasingly crystallizing that the security of the individual software applications and the integration of these into the system is already considered as part of agile software development and systematically checked in advance, i.e. before the software component or feature is used by the customer. The advantages of continuous security testing are obvious:
- Weak points of the software are identified in advance. This means there is no need for a major disaster to occur before the vulnerability is found and eliminated.
- Due to early and continuous security testing, the complexity of the software is manageable, so that both automated and manual test procedures are suitable.
In particular, the combination of automated and manual tests, for example by means of static/dynamic code analysis, has proven to be very successful in practice, resulting in software that is secure by design. Secure by Design is increasingly becoming the mainstream development approach to ensure the security and privacy of software systems. In this approach, security is built into the software from the ground up, starting with a robust architectural design. Decisions on the design of security architectures are often based on known security patterns, which are defined as reusable techniques for achieving specific quality objectives. Security patterns provide solutions for enforcing the necessary requirements for authentication, authorization, confidentiality, data integrity, data protection, accountability, availability, and data security, even if the system is under attack.
Security is in the DNA of ditCraft. The company was born out of the realization that 87% of all software product security vulnerabilities are caused by missing or inadequate software testing. If the principles of continuous security testing had been used in the run-up to implementation, the majority of security vulnerabilities would not have arisen. It is this insight that drives our experts to help our customers with software testing. We have specialized in Continuous Security Testing and advise our customers on the optimal implementation of a DevOps and software quality assurance strategy that also takes into account the security requirements of today's software and systems. We integrate automated security testing into existing CI/CD pipelines and take over manual testing where our customers do not have the human resources or expertise. We do not shy away from code that contains cryptographic functions or was written for isolated execution environments such as ARM's TrustZone or Intel's SGX.