WHAT IS A WEBSITE SCANNER?
By definition, web application scanner is an automated vulnerability assessment solution that crawls a website (either automatically or has been trained) looking for vulnerabilities within web apps. The solution analyzes all web pages and files that it finds, and builds a structure of the entire website. The scanner then performs automated checks against security vulnerabilities by launching a series of common web attacks and analyzes the results for vulnerabilities.
Organizations need a Web application scanning solution that can scan for security loopholes in Web-based applications to prevent would-be hackers from gaining unauthorized access to corporate information and data. Web applications are proving to be the weakest link in overall corporate security, even though companies have left no stone unturned in installing the better-known network security and anti-virus solutions. Quick to take advantage of this vulnerability, hackers have now begun to use Web applications as a platform for gaining access to corporate data; consequently the regular use of a web application scanner is essential.
The hacker’s life has become tougher in recent days. Thanks to various intrusion detection and defense mechanisms developed by network security companies, it is no longer easy to breach security perimeters and gain unauthorized access to an organization’s network.
Today, firewalls, security scanners and antivirus software protect almost all corporate networks. Hemmed in by such constraints, hackers have been researching alternate ways to breach the security infrastructure.
Unfortunately, hackers have been successful in finding a gaping hole in the corporate security infrastructure, one of which organizations were previously unaware – Web applications. By design, Web applications are publicly available on the Internet, 24/7. This provides hackers with easy access and allows almost unlimited attempts to hack applications that have not been identified by webmasters as vulnerable through the use of a web application scanning solution.
While the adoption of Web-based technologies for conducting business has enabled organizations to connect seamlessly with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders, it has also exposed a multitude of previously unknown security risks. According to Pete Lindstrom, Director of Security Strategies with the Hurwitz Group, Web applications, when not audited regularly with the use of a web application scanner, are the most vulnerable elements of an organization’s IT infrastructure today.
A Web application scanner is an automated security program that searches for software vulnerabilities within Web applications. A Web application scanner first crawls the entire website, analyzing in-depth each file it finds, and displaying the entire website structure.
Tessting the vulnerability of your websites will help individuals and companies to detect and block any security holes on a website thereby keeping the database safe from unauthorized access.
. This is why security testing of web applications is very important. And here comes the role of web application security scanners. Web Application Security Scanner is a software program which performs automatic black box testing on a web application and identifies security vulnerabilities. Scanners do not access the source code, they only perform functional testing and try to find security vulnerabilities.
Various paid and free web application vulnerability scanners are available. In this post, we are listing the best free open source web application vulnerability scanners. I am adding the tools in random order. So please do not think it is a ranking of tools.
I am only adding open source tools which can be used to find security vulnerabilities in web applications. I am not adding tools to find server vulnerabilities. And do not confuse with free tools and open source tools. Because there are various other tools available for free, but they do not provide source code to other developers. Open source tools are those which offer source codes to developers so that developers can modify the tool or help in further development.
The following are the best open source web application penetration testing tools:
Grabber is a nice web application scanner which can detect many security vulnerabilities in web applications. It performs scans and tells where the vulnerability exists. It can detect the following vulnerabilities:
- Cross site scripting
- SQL injection
- Ajax testing
- File inclusion
- JS source code analyzer
- Backup file check
It is not fast as compared to other security scanners, but it is simple and portable. This should be used only to test small web applications because it takes too much time to scan large applications.
This tool does not offer any GUI interface. It also cannot create any PDF report. This tool was designed to be simple and for personal use. You can try this tool just for personal use its not for professional use.
Vega is another free open source web vulnerability scanner and testing platform. With this tool, you can perform security testing of a web application. This tool is written in Java and offers a GUI based environment. It is available for OS X, Linux and Windows.
While working with the tool, it lets you set a few preferences like total number of path descendants, number of child paths of a node, depth and maximum number of request per second. You can use Vega Scanner, Vega Proxy, Proxy Scanner and also Scanner with credentials.
C. Zed Attack Proxy
Zed Attack Proxy is also known as ZAP. This tool is open source and is developed by AWASP. It is available for Windows, Unix/Linux and Macintosh platforms. I personally like this tool. It can be used to find a wide range of vulnerabilities in web applications. The tool is very simple and easy to use. Even if you are new to penetration testing, you can easily use this tool to start learning penetration testing of web applications.
These are the key functionalities of ZAP:
- Intercepting Proxy
- Automatic Scanner
- Traditional but powerful spiders
- Web Socket Support
- Plug-n-hack support
- Authentication support
- REST based API
- Dynamic SSL certificates
- Smartcard and Client Digital Certificates support
You can either use this tool as a scanner by inputting the URL to perform scanning, or you can use this tool as an intercepting proxy to manually perform tests on specific pages.
Wapiti is also a nice web vulnerability scanner which lets you audit the security of your web applications. It performs black-box testing by scanning web pages and injecting data. It tries to inject payloads and see if a script is vulnerable. It supports both GET and POSTHTTP attacks and detects multiple vulnerabilities.
It can detect following vulnerabilities:
- File Disclosure
- File inclusion
- Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
- Command execution detection
- CRLF Injection
- SEL Injection and Xpath Injection
- Weak .htaccess configuration
- Backup files disclosure
- and many other
Wapiti is a command-line application. So, it may not be easy for beginners. But for experts, it will perform well. For using this tool, you need to learn lots of commands which can be found in official documentation.
W3af is a popular web application attack and audit framework. This framework aims to provide a better web application penetration testing platform. It is developed using Python. By using this tool, you will be able to identify more than 200 kinds of web application vulnerabilities including SQL injection, Cross-Site Scripting and many others.
It comes with a graphical and console interface. You can use it easily by using its easy to understand interface.
If you are using it with Graphical Interface, I do not think that you are going to face any problem with the tool. You only need to select the options and then start the scanner. If a website needs authentication, you can also use authentication modules to scan the session-protected pages.
WebScarab is a Java-based security framework for analyzing web applications using HTTP or HTTPS protocol. With available plugins, you can extend the functionality of the tool. This tool works as an intercepting proxy. So, you can review the request and response coming to your browser and going to thw server. You can also modify the request or response before they are received by server or browser.
If you are a beginner, this tool is not for you. This tool was designed for those who have a good understanding of HTTP protocol and can write codes.
Webscarab provides many features which helps penetration testers work closely on a web application and find security vulnerabilities. It has a spider which can automatically find new URLs of the target website. It can easily extract scripts and HTML of the page. Proxy observes the traffic between server and your browser, and you can take control of the request and response by using available plugins. Available modules can easily detect most common vulnerabilities like SQL injection, XSS< CRLF and many other vulnerabilities.
Skipfish is also a nice web application security tool. It crawls the website and then check each pages for various security threats and at the end prepares the final report. This tool was written in C. It is highly optimized for HTTP handling and utilizing minimum CPU. It claims that it can easily handle 2000 requests per second without adding a load on CPU. It use a heuristics approach while crawling and testing web pages. This tool also claims to offer high quality and less false positives.
Ratproxy is also an open source web application security audit tool which can be used to find security vulnerabilities in web applications. It is supports Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS X, and Windows (Cygwin) environments.
SQLMap is another popular open source penetration testing tool. It automates the process of finding and exploiting SQL injection vulnerability in a website’s database. It has a powerful detection engine and many useful features. So, a penetration tester can easily perform SQL injection check on a website.
It supports range of database servers including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, IBM DB2, SQLite, Firebird, Sybase and SAP MaxDB. It offers full support to 6 kinds of SQL injection techniques: time-based blind, boolean-based blind, error-based, UNION query, stacked queries and out-of-band.
Wfuzz is another freely available open source tool for web application penetration testing. It can be used to brute force GET and POST parameters for testing against various kinds of injections like SQL, XSS, LDAP and many others. It also supports cookie fuzzing, multi-threading, SOCK, Proxy, Authentication, parameters brute forcing, multiple proxy and many other things.
Grendel-Scan is another nice open source web application security tool. This is an automatic tool for finding security vulnerabilities in web applications. Many features are also available for manual penetration testing. This tool is available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh. This tool was developed in Java.
Watcher is a passive web security scanner. It does not attack with loads of requests or crawl the target website. It is not a separate tool but is an add-on of Fiddler. So you need to first install Fiddler and then install Watcher to use it.
It quietly analyzes the request and response from the user-interaction and then makes a report on the application. As it is a passive scanner, it will not affect the website’s hosting or cloud infrastructure.
X5s is also a Fiddler add-on which aims to provide a way to find cross-site scripting vulnerabilities. This is not an automatic tool. So, you need to understand how encoding issues can lead to XSS. You need to manually find the injection point and then check where XSS can be in the application.
Arachni is an open source tool developed for providing a penetration testing environment. This tool can detect various web application security vulnerabilities. It can detect various vulnerabilities like SQL Injection, XSS, Local File inclusion, remote file inclusion, unvalidated redirect, and many others.
IMPORTANCE OF WEBSITE SCANNERS
Considering the overall process, and complexity of modern web applications, here are a few important features to consider:
- The ability to crawl a website regardless of technology and analyze the results.
- Merge traditional (operating system and application) and web application vulnerability assessment data in one report to reveal the current overall security posture for a system.
- Provide reports with actionable details such that administrators and developers can correct the flaws in a timely manner
The best way to identify web application security threats is to perform web application vulnerability assessment. The importance of these threats could leave your organization exposed if they are not properly identified and mitigated. Therefore, implementing a web application scanning solution should be of paramount importance for your organizations security plans in the future.
With the tools mentioned above,the safety of your website is guaranteed.You can drop your comments below.
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