Web Application Penetration Testing Methods and Tools

Web Application Penetration Testing Methods and Tools

Web application testing is used to identify vulnerabilities and bugs to prevent hackers from invading. This testing consists of four stages: information gathering, research and use, reporting and recommendations, and correction with ongoing support. The purpose of testing is to ensure the security of program code development throughout its life cycle. The essence of testing is simulating attacks on the system to gain access to users’ private data and determine the system’s security. These attacks are carried out either outside or inside the system, and they help provide information about the target system and reveal exploits and vulnerabilities.

A competent web application penetration testing service must perform the necessary system health check. So, popular automated tools allow penetration testers to conduct web application testing. Detection of security vulnerabilities helps to protect users’ sensitive data.

What is a web app penetration testing?

A web application pentest is the process of controlled hacking of a client’s web application to discover and analyze security vulnerabilities that a hacker can exploit. The web application pentest process aims to help you better understand the web application’s security posture – its resilience to cyberattacks and reliability.

The traditional web application penetration testing process involves a vulnerability scan to find security loopholes: SQL injection, misconfiguration, cross-site scripting, unpatched software, etc.

Pentesters manually make:

  1. Authenticate the web application vulnerabilities found using the scanner
  2.  Finding more complex vulnerabilities, such as payment gateway and business logic bugs.

Then a pentest report is prepared to contain information about all the tests, discovered vulnerabilities, and possible solutions to the security problem.

The benefits of web app penetration testing

Penetration testing of web applications has several obvious advantages:

  • Satisfying compliance requirements – Manual testing is required in some areas.
  • Infrastructure assessment – Infrastructure such as DNS servers and firewalls is public. Any changes can make the system vulnerable. Pentesting web applications help identify vulnerabilities that hackers can target to launch attacks.
  • Identification of vulnerabilities – Penetration testing of web applications reveals vulnerable routes in infrastructure and loopholes in applications.
  • Confirming security policies – Manual testing of web applications evaluates security policies for vulnerabilities.

Thus, competent testing helps prevent personal data theft and reputational and financial damage.

Three stages of web application penetration testing

There are three key steps in penetration testing web applications:

  1. Preparing for the test

The web application penetration tester needs to define the goals and scope of the testing project. For example, is the purpose of checking overall performance, fulfilling compliance requirements, or something else? Next, penetration testers should collect all the necessary information about the web architecture, API, infrastructure, etc.

  1. Running pen testing

Testers simulate attacks, trying to figure out if a hacker can gain access to an application. Tests are divided into two types:

  • Internal penetration testing. It simulates a scenario where an attacker can access an application behind your firewalls.
  • External penetration tests. It analyzes the components available to hackers through the Internet: websites and web applications.

3. Analysis

After testing is completed, testers analyze the results and prepare a report for the client. After the analysis, necessary changes and improvements can be proposed.

Top-5 web app pentest tools

Automation avoids human errors, provides speed, and several other benefits. Still, as far as penetration testing is concerned, it requires us to do some manual testing because it helps to reduce the number of false positives and find vulnerabilities associated with business logic. Manual intervention is always required. So, the most popular advanced tools and their features to choose the best one for you:

Web Application Framework (W3af ) 300

The Web Application Framework is a popular security scanner that detects various vulnerabilities. You can use this web application penetration testing tool to investigate the host server and target the website quickly. The tool has many functions related to the operation. It is a very efficient, fast, and easy way to collect information about the target system quickly.

Burp Suite

It is an effective open source web application penetration testing tool available to users in two versions: free and paid. Anyone can use the open-source version, but the tool lacks some necessary functionality. The paid version of this tool offers users much more automation and features and is licensed to many companies. For example, with its help, you can easily collect HTTP traffic.


 It is one of the best open-source automated tools. In addition, it provides access to compromised database servers. One of the tool’s main features includes vulnerability scanning and database fingerprinting.

Astra Pentest

It is a simple and high-quality testing method. Navigation, visualization, and troubleshooting are really easy and convenient. In addition, the user gets a dedicated dashboard to read CVSS ratings, visualize vulnerabilities, contact security personnel, and access remediation support.


Network Mapper helps map the network by scanning ports, creating a list of devices and services running on them, and discovering operating systems. It is a great pentest kit. You can use this method for OS fingerprinting, host discovery, service discovery, and security auditing. Allows you to inventory all operating systems and devices and find possible vulnerabilities. It is a powerful tool that displays a large network with thousands of ports.

Conclusion: web application security

Web applications offer the market many advantages in terms of commercialization and usefulness. These systems are generally available to the public. However, due to the growing popularity of web applications and their constant presence on the Internet, they usually contain vulnerabilities in their configuration and design, which hackers find and exploit. Since these systems are almost always connected to the Internet, they carry a huge risk, and effective penetration testing is indispensable.

If the application processes personal information, financial card data, and medical records, it is in the company’s interest to conduct annual penetration testing of web applications. It will allow your web – app to comply with official requirements and help you meet safety standards.

Web Application Penetration Testing is an efficient and correct way to ensure web application security. Every effort must be made to ensure that appropriate security measures are in place for the software development life cycle and ongoing maintenance of web applications.


Why is web application pentesting so important?

A web application penetration test is important because it helps determine the security status of an entire web application, including the server network, database, etc. In addition, the test suggests ways to increase security.

What are the types of web application penetration testing?

There is internal or external penetration testing. One or the other is chosen depending on the business requirements. External penetration testing involves simulating attacks against a live website/web application. Internal testing is performed on a web application hosted on an intranet and helps to identify and track the movement of a hacker from the inside.

How to Pentest a Web Application?

There are four phases in which web application pentesting can be performed: Planning Phase, Pre-Attack Phase, Attack Phase, and Post-Attack Phase.

What is the time frame for pentesting web applications?

It takes seven to ten days. But sometimes it may take more time. You should not spare time and money for penetration testing because it will help avoid hackers’ attacks.

How much does web application pentest cost?

Web Application Pen Test prices range from $3,500 to $7,500. The external network Pen Test typically starts at $2,500. The internal network pen test costs more, $7,500-$10,000.