Software Testing With Security in Mind

For this weeks blog post I wanted to take a look at the security aspect of software testing.  I feel that we have discussed many aspects of software testing in our CS 443 class but one of the aspects we haven’t really gone over is how to determine whether code we write is secure.  Many of us, at some point in our carriers, will probably write software that will be used in a web/ desktop environment. By testing such code for vulnerabilities before it is released we can save ourselves and the companies we work for from falling victim to data breaches and stolen information. I found this article titled, How to Test Application Security – Web and Desktop Application Security Testing Techniques, and it discusses the issues I have just introduced.

The author of the article defines security as meaning “that authorized access is granted to protected data and unauthorized access is restricted.”  They then go on to distinguish between desktop and web-based software and the different security needs for both. Essentially, they suggest that both types of software require similar security measures to protect sensitive data, however, most web based software will require a little extra security measures since this type of software is accessible to anyone on the internet.

In the Article the author brings up a number of interesting points regarding testing how secure a piece of software is but I would like to focus on three of their main points as I feel they are really important. The three points I’d like to focus on are data protection, brut-force attacks, and SQL injections/ XSS.  To test for data protection in your software, the author suggests, you should ensure all passwords in your DB are being encrypted when they are transmitted. Also, if your software is web based, you should be using the HTTPS protocol rather than HTTP and you should test certificate validity on the server side. When it comes to testing whether your software is vulnerable to brut force attacks, the author says you should have some kind include “some mechanism of account suspension” into your software.  Finally, in order to test for SQL injections and XSS attacks we must treat any part of the code that accepts user input as a vulnerability.  The author advises that make sure there is a maximum length of characters for valid input as well as a checking mechanism for basic SQL injection techniques.

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