Umair Khokhar
By:  Umair Khokhar

Published: July 6, 2021


Last Updated: April 16, 2024

Website Pentesting: How and Why You Need to Care.
Website Pentesting: How and Why You Need to Care.

In this article

Protect your website and your reputation with pentesting

Website penetration testing, better known as pentesting, replicates cyberattacks in order to expose the weakness in a website’s security infrastructure. Website pentesting is typically performed by a cybersecurity expert or experienced programmer. Their findings can be used to reinforce a company’s web-based digital assets. 

Let’s say you’re a business owner with a brick-and-mortar storefront. When it’s time to close up shop, you wouldn’t leave without making sure everything was safe and accounted for, would you? Double checking that all of the doors and windows are shut and locked, cash stowed away, alarms set. When it comes to your website, are you doing the same?

Website security is often overlooked by businesses and organizations – both small and large. We can’t tell you how many times businesses scurry to address security breaches on their website after the harm has already been done. In fact, over 30,000 websites are hacked daily, and 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack. Instead of panicking and being reactive, businesses should prioritize checking for website vulnerabilities or web application vulnerabilities early and often. Website vulnerabilities are essentially fractures in the system that can compromise a website’s overall security. They expose risks for websites to be attacked. 

There are several different types of website vulnerabilities which can be tested for to ensure your website is protected from potential attacks. Website vulnerability testing involves using automated tools to scan websites to find potential vulnerabilities. Website vulnerability scans simply provide reports on detected risks, system weaknesses, and other vulnerabilities. 

Website penetration testing requires a much more detailed and proactive approach in testing websites to find specific vulnerabilities. Penetration testing is usually done manually by a developer or programmer who knows exactly what to look for. When a developer or programmer is performing a website or web application penetration test, they are essentially mimicking what a hacker might do to gain access to a website. This type of pentesting is referred to as a “black box” testing method. 

Read on to learn more about the importance of pentesting, how often you should pentest, and how HubBase performs penetration tests. 

Why is web pentesting important to perform?

Pentesting is a critical component of maintaining website security and safety. Pentesting not only verifies compliance for your business website (especially if it’s an ecommerce website that uses online payment methods for transactions or web application), it allows you to proactively assess your website’s preparedness for attacks and verify security protocols as well. 

A pentest can find a website’s vulnerability. Pentesting can help your company strengthen applications and infrastructure, while also implementing effective controls and eliminating methods of attack. This is important because the tech systems and solutions we use are constantly changing. But this doesn’t mean that we are necessarily safer. Hackers are nimble, and their strategies will evolve as these systems get more sophisticated. So even if you conducted a pentest before, it doesn’t mean that your systems are automatically safe. Website penetration testing should be conducted regularly to protect your company and your employees. 

Why is website and web app security so often overlooked?

It happens far too often: redesign of your website or development for your web app is underway and you’re knocking the fundamentals off your checklist – a beautiful UI, growth-driven design, all pages optimized for SEO, page load speeds improved for user experience. Feeling good? Yep! But something’s amiss. What about the crucial checkpoint of website security?

In the case of websites – it’s simple. Most websites are owned by an organization’s marketing team, and the last thing your VP of Marketing is thinking about is web security. Not because she doesn’t care, but because her performance is not measured on cybersecurity.

When it comes to web apps, security is still not a part of every Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). With engineers constantly under evergrowing pressure to release applications faster, cybersecurity falls victim to that and is often overlooked in the SDLC.

How often should pentesting be conducted?

This depends on your company. If you’re using new systems on a regular basis, you may be increasing web vulnerability. This means you’ll likely want to conduct more pentests. Some businesses, however, can get by testing once or twice a year. For a better understanding of what your company needs, reach out to a professional (like HubBase) for a pentest security audit.

Can I only pentest websites?

No. While it’s a good idea to check website vulnerability, pentesting is useful for any web technology, including apps and services. For more information check out our blog post about all things pentesting.

Are there different types of pentesting?

Yes, there are different types of pentesting, and they each require different levels of experience. These include:

  • Website and wireless network. A pentest could find weaknesses in passwords, encryption protocols, wireless network traffic, and more.

  • Network services. Some examples of this include SSH attacks, router testing, web app pentesting, proxy servers, and more.

  • Social engineering tests. With these tests, pentesters can use several tactics, such as tailgating, phishing attacks, and Dumpster diving.

  • Cloud penetration testing. With companies making use of cloud services, this test looks at encryption, RDP remote administration, API access, and more.

  • Physical penetration testing. This involves a pentester trying to breach your security controls.

Can I pentest my own network?

There are pentest tools, such as a website vulnerability scanner, that can help you figure out how to pentest your website. However, online web pentesting may have limitations in what issues it can discover or resolve. If you want a comprehensive pentest, you should hire an expert, whether it’s a freelance pentester or a company dedicated to testing web vulnerability. They will need to seek approval from whoever owns the network, service, or application before they can conduct a pentest.

What is manual pentesting?

Manual pentesting is the process of combining human experience and pentesting software. While pentest tools can find website vulnerability, they aren’t infallible. They can’t find all design flaws and can’t provide comprehensive coverage. However, if you work with an experienced pentester, they should be able to pick up where the pentest tools left off.

What is HubBase’s approach to pentesting?

At HubBase, we work to strengthen websites. We use a unique approach to web security with a mixture of offensive and defensive security techniques. On top of creating tailored web security plans around data validation, we can also create custom plans for client-side testing.

Content management systems, like HubSpot, take care of configuration and deployment, upgrades, identity management, authentication, authorization, session management, error handling, cryptography, business logic, and API testing. Check out this link for more information.

We focus on:  

  • Defensive Security: Our defensive techniques focus on defensive coding, which ensures the programmer doesn't introduce any security vulnerability and writes high-performance code. We also perform source code reviews before a website page or component is made live.

  • Offensive Security: Our offensive techniques rely on pentesting to ensure that the application doesn’t have any data validation or client-side injection vulnerabilities. During pentesting, we also look for any known vulnerabilities in CVE, GitHub, or any other databases.

How is HubBase’s pentesting approach different?

We approach website security the same way we approach cybersecurity. With cybersecurity, you plan how you’ll secure your digital assets from cyber hacks. We plan and make strategies that secure the website from hackers.

We have a two-pronged security approach:

Defensive security

We start with defensive coding. When we write code, we’re not just aiming for high-performance code. We also want to produce code that doesn’t have any weaknesses. After we have performed a code review, we ensure that the code is free of any vulnerabilities.

Offensive security

We regularly perform tests to eliminate any vulnerabilities that exist.

Our web security approach is effective in mitigating risks. It includes:

1. Manual inspections:
Adding human testing on top of pentesting tools.

2. Threat modeling:
Pinpointing what threats your website may face

3. Black box testing:
Penetration testing without any identifying information

4. Code review:
Reviewing code to guarantee there are no vulnerabilities present

Relevant articles: A Brief Guide of Nearly Everything Pentesting