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Five Critical Skills You Need to Have as a Web Application Penetration Tester

Web application penetration testers collaborate with app development teams to ensure that the application is safe from cyberattacks. Read all about what it takes to be a web application tester in 2021.

Web Application Penetration Tester

Two decades back, most of the tasks related to web application security were conducted by quality assurance teams. These professionals were responsible for ensuring that the application was safe from cyberattacks and data breaches. In the era of rapid digitization, IoT and innovative technologies have changed the way we store and exchange data, but they have also increased the challenges in cybersecurity. Therefore, the need for a web application penetration tester to mitigate these risks became prominent. Web application penetration tester’s job profile has become niche and rewarding with time. Also, the demand for certified web application penetration testers has jumped across all industry verticals.

See also: What is Penetration Testing? What Does a Penetration Tester Do?

The average total cost of a data breach increased by nearly 10% to $4.24 million in 2021: IBM Ponemon Institute Survey.[1]

Senior management members should focus on employing web application testers as a way forward for 2022 and beyond. Freshers and tech professionals looking for a new job profile to increase their employability, salary, and job security would also benefit from web application hacking and security testing.   

New job opportunities will keep flowing if you are ready to accept a web application penetration tester’s challenges, roles, and responsibilities. Here are five important skills you will need to become a remarkable professional in this field:    

1. Reflected, Stored and DOM-based Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Application security risks increase when users interact with a vulnerable application. XSS or cross-site scripting allows attackers to compromise these interactions and circumvent the origin policy that segregates websites from each other. In the absence of a web application penetration tester, the attacker can fully control the application’s functionality if the victim user has privileged access.   

A web application penetration tester closes these vulnerabilities by validating user inputs. A professional tester would filter out special characters and encode the output to prevent stored XSS attacks and reflected XSS attacks. They also create a content security policy through which they mitigate the impact of XSS.   

Through foolproof web app penetration testing, you will eliminate XSS attacks. Your customers will not face the issue of session hijacking, assuring data safety and privacy.   

2. Advanced Web Application Penetration Testing

Advanced web application penetration testing directly benefits the companies that develop web applications, APIs, and mobile applications. Developers use open-source components and plugins while creating these apps. Any security gap increases the chance of a cyberattack causing unprecedented damage.  

Web application penetration testers know how to patch vulnerabilities making in-app purchases safer. You may think that a vulnerability scan is enough to eliminate these issues and launch the app, but it is not entirely true. Vulnerability scans are essential for web application security testing. But this process would only highlight the open weaknesses, while advanced web application penetration testing would tell you how your app will fare against a real-world cyberattack.   

eCommerce companies would significantly benefit from website security testing, ensuring secure payments and transactions

3. Insecure Direct Object Reference Prevention (IDOR)

Insecure Direct Object Reference or IDOR does not cause any real security issue. Instead, it creates an environment that provides attackers with unauthorized data. It opens the possibility of an enumeration attack where the attacker can identify access to the associated objects. As a result, users go to sites or pages that they do not intend to visit.   

A web application penetration tester would close IDOR issues through two methods. First, they will use an indirect reference map that eliminates IDOR vulnerabilities by replacing the actual references (name, IDs, keys, etc.) with alternate IDs which map to the original values. Web application penetration testers also validate user access through which the server only allows the users with valid credentials to access the data or make changes to it.

4. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities

Web application testing checklist also includes vulnerable libraries and frameworks. Cybercriminals can use automated scanning tools to find flaws in these components and then manipulate the data the way they want. Most website testing tools will highlight these issues, but only a professional would know how to close the security gaps.   

Your business and the product can be at significant risk if a malicious actor finds any pre-existing vulnerabilities. Only a web application penetration tester would know how to identify such risks and close them in advance. Organizations can also arrange web application security training for their employees who work in the IT department. This way, they will save funds by hiring new professionals and help their employees learn new skills.

5. Network Scanning and Authentication Bypass

Experienced web application penetration testers should know how to use network scanning and authentication bypass tools. These methodologies also make vulnerability identification much faster and easier. However, in the wrong hands, these tools can pose severe risks to client data. Only trained website security testing professionals can perform scanning and authentication bypass to ensure a threat-free environment.   

Aspiring web application penetration testers should choose a training program that covers technical skills and soft skills. EC-Council’s Web Application Hacking and Security course keep these requirements as a priority for training.  

About EC-Council’s Web Application Hacking and Security Certification

The modern testing approach for web applications is not just limited to conventional security methods. Aspiring cyber or Tech professionals interested in learning this skill should look for a course covering the latest case studies and market research to understand everything thoroughly.   

EC-Council’s Web Application Hacking and Security Certification is for aspiring web application penetration testers who like to go beyond conventional security practices. The course module teaches the modern techniques of defending and securing web applications. Participants learning new skills through this program would get an understanding of the essential web application testing checklist. Knowledge of web application testing techniques will help them combat cybercrimes amidst the emerging threats of phishing, unauthorized intrusions, and other forms of cyberattack. As a web application penetration tester, your skills will align with the most in-demand cybersecurity job roles.   

Web Application Security Professional


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Who Can Learn Web Application Hacking and Security? 

Web application and security training are for working professionals and students alike. But professionals in the following job profiles will progress and get hired faster compared to their peers 

  • Penetration Tester 
  • Ethical Hacker 
  • Web Application Penetration Tester/Security Engineer/Auditor 
  • Red Team Engineer 
  • Information Security Engineer 
  • Risk/Vulnerability Analyst 
  • Vulnerability Manager 
  • Incident responder 

2. Why Should I Learn Web Application Testing? 

Web application testing is among the top in-demand skills in cybersecurity profiles. In the USA itself, there are more than 5000 vacancies and the requirement is rising due to lack of professionals. As a web application tester, you will find interesting opportunities with a lucrative salary and job security.


[1] https://www.ibm.com/account/reg/us-en/signup?formid=urx-50915&_ga=2.10519666.716610455.1628850973-202413231.1622444786