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How to Test for Security in the Cloud

In nearly every organization, employees are utilizing applications that interact with critical business and personal cloud security information. Think about industries like health care, for example, that must manage patient and financial data while keeping it protected from potential breaches. For years, quality assurance professionals have manually executed tests to ensure that programs are safe, but this method could lead to redundancies and unnoticed vulnerabilities in the system. Many QA teams have moved their security testing approach to the cloud to improve reliability and speed up the process. Let’s take a look at how companies can use this method:

  1. Determine compliance with industry standards

Many sectors have established rules for organizations to follow when protecting their data and customer information. Health care must adhere to HIPAA, while retailers follow PCI DSS. Apps in the cloud must also be compliant with these standards, which aim to make operations inherently more secure. AppNeta​​ noted that automated vulnerability scanners can look for areas that lack security, such as cross-site scripting, command execution, SQL injection, insecure server configuration, and directory traversal.

Running these types of security executions through test management tools can help QA teams monitor progress and prioritize cases. These resources will also notify QA when an issue appears, enabling them to respond accordingly and ensure that the same problem doesn’t appear in the future. This will help better protect the app from breaches and boost overall compliance capabilities.

  1. Automate cases when possible

Part of the agile workflow involves automating processes whenever possible. For agile testing, this involves cases that are repeated often. Since no QA member wants to constantly code or manually execute scripts, establishing a set case and automating the test can help better manage time and still yield results. Security Intelligence contributor Neil Jones noted that automated services can produce reliable, easy-to-interpret results. They can also help generate detailed reports with low false-positive rates. This is critical to ensuring that QA teams have accurate information on hand to make decisions and secure their programs.

“The primary value of self-service, automated scanning is not in how safe and accurate the services are,” Jones wrote. “Rather, it’s in the way they help you improve your overall security posture, with the limited effort required on your team’s end. Being lightweight and easy to use, these solutions can be easily integrated into your development lifecycle. And, as you know, the earlier you detect cloud security testing vulnerabilities in the development process, the easier and less expensive it is to remediate them.”

  1. Decide what types of testing to leverage

There are a number of test cases that can be used to ensure that applications are protected. Some teams may choose to use simple vulnerability scanning tools while others may pick sophisticated methods. TechTarget contributor John Overbaugh noted that deciding between whitebox and blackbox testing could make a big difference in how a team approaches their security posture. Blackbox testing, for example, entails the tester knowing only as much information as a real-world hacker while still attempting to break the software. Whitebox testing, on the other hand, leverages the program’s source code as a test basis. This means that testing is executed much faster and it’s easier to prioritize test efforts.

Many QA teams choose to leverage a combination of these methods in order to gain the most information possible. It can help exploit vulnerabilities quicker and ensure that an app is truly secure.

  1. Use test management to direct efforts

As QA practices become more collaborative, it can be difficult to keep track of each moving piece. This is where test management comes in. Using these tools, QA can log application testing efforts and any defects. Overbaugh suggested being ready to test in all areas of the app to complete your testing, but this type of encompassing testing will need to be tracked accurately. Test management ensures that everyone is on the same page and that any security vulnerabilities that are spotted can be prioritized and handled accordingly. These capabilities will improve security testing in the cloud and boost overall protection efforts.

Security testing in the cloud has a number of benefits to offer QA teams, but they must be able to utilize it effectively. By leveraging automation and other resources, QA can bolster their security posture and better protect their essential applications.

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