How has automated testing transformed the world cyber security

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Over the last two years, companies have gone digital at an unprecedented rate. While this is good news for a digital-first customer base, the flipside is that many companies didn’t have the IT capability to adopt digital practices securely. Cybersecurity attacks have long been an area of concern and have gone up alarmingly since 2020 – data breaches have cost India as much as INR 17.6 crore in 2022, according to a recent IBM study. A key contributor to this is the growing prevalence of application vulnerabilities – under pressure from the market to release newer and better solutions faster, security testing is often done hastily, leading to exploitable gaps that go unnoticed.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just big companies that need to be on the lookout for vulnerabilities. A robust cybersecurity strategy is vital from the growth stage so that the business can be prepared for future breaches. In this context, automated testing tools offer a speedy and efficient way to assess internal security and deliver robust software products with lower time-to-market.

The Power of Automated Testing

Automated testing is a process of testing the security of an information system using automated tools. The goal is to find and rectify weaknesses before a cyber attacker can get to them and assess whether changes to the system have led to any current or potential vulnerabilities.

Automated testing has a higher accuracy rate, unlike manual testing, where human errors are likely to creep in. Some of the advantages of automated testing include:

the ability to run tests on a large number of applications simultaneously
the compatibility with multiple types of information systems and numerous programming languages
the ease of integration with the developer workflow
The variety of applications, including source code review, penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security code review

Automated testing and cybersecurity

Every day, thousands of apps are released on iOS, Android, and other operating systems. When these apps are not adequately tested for security beforehand, they could carry vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to break into the end user’s device and steal money, information, or both. Multiplied across millions of end users, this can lead to significant consequences. At the same time, app development timelines have been rapidly reduced to keep up with dynamic demand patterns. As data breaches go up, companies are under considerable pressure to integrate security testing into the software development lifecycle so that developers can get real-time notifications about security issues and act on them before any code is committed. Merely running a check at the end is not enough to safeguard against today’s sophisticated hackers. In addition, the European GDPR and other privacy mandates have made it non-negotiable for companies to include security in their designs, especially when handling sensitive information. Manual testing is time-consuming and inefficient; automated testing is the way to go.

Where to add automated testing in the DevOps pipeline

Automated testing ensures that system sweeps happen at key intervals without having to wait for when a manual tester is free. Some key checkpoints where companies can add automated testing include:

Static application security testing (STAT) involves scanning the source code for any security issues. Automated testing can be baked into the initial scan or when validating object code rather than source code after the build. This allows developers to spot and fix bugs without much delay or needing to rewrite code.
Dynamic application security testing (DAST) involves assessing applications before being released for production. Several open-source applications can examine an application from outside and conduct a quality check.
Software composition – Running a software composition analysis check would help to identify where to plug in more checks depending on how the software is built.

With automated security testing tools, companies can rapidly scan through all their lines of code and identify gaps, even if they’re deeply embedded. This allows the IT staff to focus on solutions for those gaps and strategies to prevent new ones. And one doesn’t always need to call in a professional, either. Many automated testing solutions can be deployed by in-house developers and scheduled to run checks overnight so that the team can get a complete list of vulnerabilities by morning. These can help identify most major security flaws, such as SQL injection flaws, weak encryption ciphers, weak authentication measures, and any breaches in the authorization. These are generally highly cost-effective, especially when contrasted with the cost of manually testing everything, and require minimum human intervention except with scheduling scans, retrieving data, and setting up triages to identify the most critical threats at any time.

Given the surge in cyber-attacks across industries, the need for real-time visibility on system threats has never been higher. Developer teams have a hundred different claims on their time, and their abilities are far better used for solving security issues rather than scanning for them. Therefore, investing in automated testing tools will considerably streamline DevOps and strengthen a company’s defense against evolving cyber threats, whether it’s a basic security patch or a complex attack vector.



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