Testing: Introduction and objectives

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OWASP Testing Guide v2 Table of Contents

This Chapter describes the OWASP Web Application Penetration testing methology and explains how to test each vulnerabilities.

What is Web Application Penetration Testing?
A penetration test is a method of evaluating the security of a computer system or network by simulating an attack. A Web Application Penetration Testing focalize only on evaluating the security of a web application.
The process involves an active analysis of the application for any weaknesses, technical flaws or vulnerabilities. Any security issues that are found will be presented to the system owner together with an assessment of their impact and often with a proposal for mitigation or a technical solution.

What is a vulnerability?

Given an application that own a set of assets (resources of value such as the data in a database or on the file system), a vulnerability is a weakness on a asset that makes a threat possible. So a threat is a potential occurrence that may harm an asset exploiting Vulnerability. A test is an action that tends to show a vulnerability in the application.

Our approach in writing this guide

The OWASP approach is Open and Collaborative:

  • Open: Every security expert can partecipate with his experience at the project. Everything is free
  • Collaborative: we usually make a brainstorming before write down the articles. So we can share our ideas and develop a collective vision of the project. That means rough consensus, wider audience and participation.

This approach tends to create a defined Testing Methodology that will be:

  • Consistent
  • Reproducible
  • Under quality control

The problems that we want to be addressed are:

  • Document all
  • Test all

What is the OWASP testing methology?

Penetration testing will never be an exact science where a complete list of all possible issues that should be tested can be defined. Indeed, penetration testing is only an appropriate technique for testing the security of web applications under certain circumstances. Our goal is to collect all the possible testing techniques, explain it and mantain it updated.
The OWASP Web Application Penetration Testing is based on black box approach. The tester know nothing or a few informations about the application to test. The testing model is like this:

  • Tester: who make the testing activities
  • Tools and methodology: the core of this Testing Guide project
  • Application: the black box to test

The test is divided in 2 phases:

  • Passive mode: in the passive mode the tester try to understand the application's logic, play with the application, he uses tool for information gathering and HTTP proxy to observ all the HTTP requests and responses. At the end of this phase the tester will know all the access point (gate) of the application (e.g. Header HTTP, parameters, cookies). For example the tester could find the following:

Indicates an authentication form in which the application request a username and a password. These paramaters represents two access points (gates) to the application.


In this case the application shows two gates (parameters a and b). All the gates finded in this phase represent a point of testing. A spreadsheet with the directory tree of the application and all tha access points will be useful for the second phase.

  • Active mode: in this phase the tester begin to test using the methodology described in the follow paragraphs.

We have splitted the test in 8 sub-categories:

  • Information Gathering
  • Business logic testing
  • Authentication Testing
  • Session Management Testing
  • Data Validation Testing
  • Denial of Service Testing
  • Web Services Testing
  • AJAX Testing

Here is the list of test that we will explain in the next paragraphs:

Category Ref Number Name
Information Gathering Application Discovery
Spidering and googling
Analisys of error code
SSL/TLS Testing
DB Listener Testing
File extensions handling
Old, backup and unreferenced files
Business logic testing
Authentication Testing Default or guessable account
Brute Force
Bypassing authentication schema
Directory traversal/file include
Vulnerable remember password and pwd reset
Logout and Browser Cache Management Testing
Session Management Testing Session Management Schema
Session Token Manipulation
Exposed Session Variables
Session Riding
HTTP Exploit
Data Validation Testing Cross site scripting
HTTP Methods and XST
SQL Injection
Stored procedure injection
ORM Injection
LDAP Injection
XML Injection
SSI Injection
XPath Injection
IMAP/SMTP Injection
Code Injection
OS Commanding
Buffer overflow
Incubated vulnerability
Denial of Service Testing Locking Customer Accounts
User Specified Object Allocation
User Input as a Loop Counter
Writing User Provided Data to Disk
Failure to Release Resources
Storing too Much Data in Session
Web Services Testing XML Structural Testing
XML content-level Testing
HTTP GET parameters/REST Testing
Naughty SOAP attachments
Replay Testing
AJAX Testing AJAX Vulnerabilities

OWASP Testing Guide v2

Here is the OWASP Testing Guide v2 Table of Contents OWASP Testing Guide v2 Table of Contents