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      Application Security Testing Tools


      Application security testing tools help you build applications that are less vulnerable to attacks by automating security testing, and by verifying your applications are secured against known vulnerabilities.

      In this guide, you learn what application security testing is; why you need application security tools; what types of tools exist; and what best practices your organization can use in deploying them.

      What Is Application Security Testing?

      Application Security Testing (AST) is the process of making code more resistant to attack by verifying the absence of known vulnerabilities. Applying security testing practices to all areas of your application’s stack and software development life-cycle can decrease the risk of an incident. Security testing began with manual source code reviews, but that’s no longer feasible in most cases.

      Automated testing with AST tools is a necessity today, for several reasons. These include the complexity of applications, especially web-based and mobile software; the frequent use of third-party components; time-to-market pressures; and the seemingly infinite universe of known attacks.

      The Importance of Security Testing

      You can never completely eliminate risk for your application, but you can use AST tools to greatly reduce that risk. It’s much less difficult and less expensive to detect and fix security flaws early in the development cycle than it is in production.

      Security testing tools also keep you current because they’re regularly updated to check for the latest known vulnerabilities. This is especially important considering that
      2021 saw a record number of zero-day vulnerabilities
      .

      Compared with time consuming code reviews and conventional unit and system test, AST tools provide much more speed and convenience. AST tools also classify and triage test results, helping you quickly identify the most serious vulnerabilities.

      Because they automate testing, software security tools scale well, and ensure repeatable results. AST tools also extend the breadth of security coverage by checking for new classes of vulnerabilities you previously might not have considered. Depending on your industry, there may be cases where you must perform security testing for regulatory and compliance reasons. And perhaps most important of all, AST tools help you think the way attackers do.

      Unlike source code reviews, AST tools work at every stage of an application’s lifecycle. This extends security testing throughout your organization, regardless of whether you’re on a development, devops, or IT management team.

      Types of Application Security Testing

      Static Application Security Testing

      Static application security testing (SAST) tools examine code to detect possible vulnerabilities. SAST tools are a form of white-box testing. In the white-box model, a test tool has access to all aspects of an application’s structure, including its architecture and source code. Armed with this inside knowledge, SAST tools can spot design flaws, identify logic problems, and verify code correctness. These tools optionally may perform negative testing as well, offering illegal values to test input validation and exception handling.

      SAST tools run automated scanning of source code, byte code, or compiled binaries, or some combination of these. The central tenet of all SAST tools is that they examine code at rest. Because SAST tools use a white-box model, they can analyze virtually any aspect of software, including individual functions, classes, and entire applications.

      Most AST tools, including SAST products, compare code against libraries of known vulnerabilities such as the
      Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVE) list
      or
      VulnDB
      . A SAST tool that checks for vulnerabilities in this way might search for coding errors that could lead to privilege escalation, memory leaks, buffer overflows, and other faults.

      Example SAST products include
      AppScan Source
      ,
      Checkmarx SAST
      ,
      Coverity SAST
      ,
      Klocwork
      , and the open-source
      Insider
      and
      LGMT
      projects.

      Dynamic Application Security Testing

      Dynamic application security testing (DAST) tools examine applications while they’re running. In contrast to SAST tools, DAST takes a “black-box” approach, where the test tool has no visibility into application architecture or coding. Instead, DAST tools must discover vulnerabilities through externally observable means.

      One popular technique employed by DAST tools is the use of fuzzing. This is the practice of deliberately providing software with unexpected or illegal values, often at high rates and/or in high volumes.

      Consider the example of network routing software. A fuzzing tool might bombard routing software with illegal and constantly iterating values for every field in the
      IP header of every packet
      . Fuzzing tests often expose memory leaks or trigger hangs and reboots. They represent an excellent way to detect problems relatively early in development.

      Examples of DAST tools include
      Acunetix
      ,
      AppSider
      ,
      CheckMarx AST
      ,
      GitLab
      ,
      InsightAppSec
      ,
      Stackhawk
      , and
      Veracode
      .

      As with SAST tools, most DAST products check software integrity against a known set of vulnerabilities and exposures. An interesting, but less common, method is to use a so-called anomaly-based approach, where a test tool monitors application traffic to determine a normal baseline, and then logs behavior outside that baseline.

      Project Ava
      represents an example of the anomaly-based approach.

      While DAST tools work with any type of software, a subset of tools focuses on web application testing. These tools may use some combination of SQL injection (described in detail below), spoofing, cross-site scripting attacks, URL manipulation, password cracking, and other web-specific vulnerabilities.

      Example products include
      Detectify
      ,
      Invicti
      ,
      Nessus
      ,
      Portswigger
      , and the
      OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)
      .

      SQL Injection Testing

      SQL injection test tools exist as a standalone category because injection attacks are so common, especially against web-based applications. SQL injection attacks work by inserting, or “injecting”, data into SQL queries to compromise a target database.

      For example, a successful SQL injection attack modifies a database by adding, updating, or deleting fields. It may expose personally identifiable information (PII) such as credit-card numbers or medical records. In some cases, SQL injection attacks also send commands to the underlying operating system.

      Because SQL injection attacks are so common, numerous tools exist to automate testing of this class of vulnerabilities. Some examples include
      SQLMap
      ,
      jSQL Injection
      , and
      BBQSQL
      . Another open-source tool,
      NoSQLMap
      , automates testing of code-injection vulnerabilities in NoSQL databases such as
      CouchDB
      and
      MongoDB
      .

      Software Composition Analysis

      Software composition analysis (SCA) tools examine every component and library used by an application, including third-party software. SCA test tools help detect problems in the open-source components or libraries found in the vast majority of networked applications.

      SCA testing uses a hybrid of SAST and DAST approaches. One caveat with SCA tools (and indeed, with any AST tool that uses a set of known vulnerabilities) is that they cannot detect problems they don’t know about. For example, SCA tools cannot detect problems in proprietary libraries developed in-house. Still, SCA tools are invaluable not only to identify vulnerabilities but also for risk management and license compliance needs.

      Vendors of SCA tools include
      Contrast Security
      ,
      Fossa
      , and
      Revenera
      .

      Mobile application Security Testing

      As the name suggests, mobile application security testing (MAST) tools look specifically for vulnerabilities in software built for mobile devices. Attackers may target a mobile device’s operating system, or its applications, or both. Some tools focus on apps on mobile devices, while others test back-end services such as cloud platforms and databases.

      Some examples of MAST tools include
      Fortify on Demand
      ,
      NowSecure
      , and the open-source
      MobSF
      project.

      Runtime Application Self-Protection

      Runtime application self-protection (RASP) tools work in production settings by analyzing application traffic and user behavior. RASP uses a hybrid of SAST and DAST approaches, analyzing both source code and live binaries to identify attacks as they happen, and block attacks in real time. For example, a RASP tool may identify an attack that targets a specific API, and then block access to that API. RASP tools also log attempted exploits to external security event and information management (SIEM) systems, allowing for real-time notification.

      Example products include
      Fortify
      ,
      Imperva
      ,
      Signal Sciences
      , and
      Sqreen
      .

      Security Testing Best Practices

      The list below includes five ways that you can make optimal use of AST tools.

      • Shift left. Even with modern software development practices, it’s still common for security testing to begin well after initial coding starts. This is often due to development and test teams working in separate silos. It’s far safer and more efficient to integrate security testing into every development phase – that is, to shift left on project timelines. By shifting left you can reduce bug count, increase code quality, and lessen the chance of discovering critical issues later on during deployment. Security testers should be involved in initial planning, and should be an integral part of any development plan.

      • Don’t trust third-party code. Virtually all networked applications today include third-party components.
        As a famous comic wryly observed
        , modern infrastructure today might well depend on, “a project some random person in Nebraska has been thanklessly maintaining since 2003.” There are many excellent third-party components available, but the onus is on development teams to ensure any outsourced code is free from known vulnerabilities and kept up to date. SCA tools should be an essential part of any AST toolkit.

      • Integrate patch management into CI/CD processes. With the proliferation of zero-day vulnerabilities, it’s no longer sufficient to task IT managers with patch management, the practice of continually updating software to guard against newly discovered attack vectors in software. Certainly patch management is important in production settings, but it’s also critical in earlier stages of the software lifecycle.
        Continuous development and integration (CI/CD)
        teams need to include patching as part of their development processes, and ensure vulnerabilities are mitigated as soon as they’re discovered. This is particularly true when incorporating third-party components such as open-source libraries; those also need to be patched as soon as those projects announce fixes for known vulnerabilities.

      • Think negative thoughts. Especially in early-stage unit testing, it’s all too common to design tests that merely verify a component works as intended. Attackers don’t think this way, and neither should developers. Negative testing – presenting applications with unexpected values – should be part of every test plan.

      • Use all the tools. Information security depends on defense in depth, the concept of employing multiple safeguards to ensure no one component’s failure leads to compromise. In an AST context, this means integrating multiple types of security testing tools into the development process. As aforementioned, there are a wide variety of tools available. Developers, devops teams, and IT managers can greatly improve code security by learning to use these tools, and by implementing them through the application lifecycle.

      Conclusion

      To reduce the risk of malicious attacks on your applications, it’s important to use application security testing tools to mitigate any vulnerabilities. This guide covered some of the most important areas of AST, like static application security testing, dynamic application security testing, and SQL injecting testing. These areas help cover security throughout an application’s technology stack and the software development lifecycle. See the
      security basics
      section our documentation library to learn more about security best practices in information technology.



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      7 Tools That Can Help Boost Your Social Media Engagement


      With so many people plugged into social media, you probably already know that you can’t avoid building up your business’s presence on these platforms. However, it’s about more than just showing up – you’ll also need to find a way to engage with your followers.

      Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. By wielding a few powerful social media management tools, you can start interacting with your audience more than ever before.

      In this article, we’ll cover a few reasons why boosting social media engagement is a worthwhile goal. Then, we’ll show you seven tools that can help you achieve it. Let’s get started!

      The Importance of Social Media Engagement

      The very nature of social media is an interactive one. A recent study found that up to 56 percent of people reported recently liking posts from others. As such, these platforms present a unique opportunity to connect with your customers on a personal level.

      Forging this connection has several benefits. For starters, social engagement metrics can provide valuable insights. If you can identify the demographics that are most frequently commenting, liking, and sharing your posts, you can use that data to adjust your target audience. It’s also an efficient way to find potential influencers.

      Moreover, it can give you an idea of how people view your brand. Unfortunately, not all engagement will be positive – you might find comments from disgruntled customers from time to time. However, these can also help you learn about areas where your audience thinks you could improve.

      Engagement is about visibility, too. People who share your content are by extension spreading the word about your brand. This could lead to increased conversions or more widespread awareness of your company.

      Many social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok use algorithms to determine what users see on their timelines. Thus, boosting your engagement could help you reach more people.

      7 Tools That Can Help Boost Your Social Media Engagement

      You may know that social media engagement is important, but knowing exactly how to improve your brand’s performance in this area can be tricky. Here are seven effective tools to help you get started.

      1. Canva

      The interface for the media-editing program Canva.

      Images are an essential part of your social media presence. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure to take high-quality photos and optimize their effectiveness through careful editing. If you’re looking for an intuitive tool that helps you design stunning images, consider using Canva.

      This tool is not only easy to use, but it also offers a wealth of features to help support your media creation, including:

      • Built-in templates geared towards the best layouts for individual platforms
      • A cohesive Brand Kit feature to keep your posts consistent with colors, fonts, and brand logos
      • Seamless collaboration features for small or large teams

      Stunning designs are more likely to catch your users’ eyes. More importantly, they can help you boost engagement. This is especially true if you use this opportunity to include exciting Calls To Action (CTA).

      If you’re looking to get the most out of Canva, we recommend that you use your designs across all of your platforms. This way, you’re providing a more seamless transition into new graphics for your customers. This can also contribute to consistency in your branding.

      Pricing: Canva offers a powerful free version. If you want all the features it has to offer, you can start with the Pro plan at $119.99 per year. You can also request an enterprise-level quote if you’re running a large team.

      2. Revive Old Posts

      A sample dashboard for Revive Old Posts.

      Content creation can be a challenging process. Sometimes it’s because you’re trying to keep up with the latest trends, but other times it’s because you’re struggling to produce enough posts to keep your page updated. If you want to alleviate some of this pressure, Revive Old Posts is definitely worth your consideration.

      As you can probably guess, this tool can help you make the most of your old content, by ensuring that it gets all the exposure that it deserves. With the help of this plugin, you can give your audience more opportunities to engage.

      Here are some impressive features offered by Revive Old Posts:

      • Automatic addition of optimized hashtags
      • The option to share posts instantly when you publish them on your website
      • Works for pages, posts, media, and custom posts to encompass nearly all types of content

      This plugin can also help you free up some time. Without the need to constantly update your social media pages, you can focus on other areas of your business. Alternatively, you might just find that you can polish your new content even more.

      You might want to consider using Revive Old Posts selectively, based on the platform. For example, if you know that your photo posts perform better on Instagram, you can focus on recycling that content for that specific account.

      Pricing: Plans for Revive Old Posts begin at $75 for a single site. This will give you five feeds and up to 50 shared accounts.

      3. CoSchedule

      A sample calendar made using CoSchedule.

      When it comes to social media, scheduling can be a big deal. After all, an abandoned or even slow-to-update profile doesn’t attract customers. That’s why a tool like CoSchedule can help.

      CoSchedule is a scheduling software made specifically for marketers. It can help organize your posting calendar with color-coded posts. Whether you’re running a platform-wide campaign or just hoping to polish your email strategy, this program can centralize your work and make sure you always have content planned.

      However, it’s a lot more than just a simple calendar. Here are a few other ways that CoSchedule can help you boost your engagement metrics:

      • Social publishing automation based on your custom plan
      • The ability to organize calendars around different teams or platforms
      • Stores assets and files to ensure that you include robust content for every post

      Consistent posting is key to increased engagement. Not only can CoSchedule help you keep this up, but it can also take some of the work off your plate by automating the process. You can also collaborate with other creators.

      If you choose to use CoSchedule, we highly recommend that you make use of the content progress function. This way, you’ll always know if you’re ready to publish a new post. This can be especially useful for large-scale marketing efforts.

      Pricing: For $29 per person, per month, you can gain access to all of CoSchedule’s features. If you’re interested in the full marketing suite, you will need to contact sales for a quote.

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      4. Sniply

      The sample interface for Sniply.

      For most social media platforms, you have to contend with a certain word count. This means every character counts. This can be tricky if you’re using long, complicated URLs. If you’re looking to get the most value out of a short post, we recommend using Sniply.

      Sniply is a URL shortener at its core. However, it can also help you streamline a customized link to serve a specific CTA. As such, you can achieve more brand consistency in a much cleaner way.

      In addition, Sniply has a few other impressive functions, such as:

      • The ability to embed URLs in the form of buttons, text, form, or images for the most natural integration
      • Engagement options ranging from links to email list sign-ups
      • Individual tracking metrics to see how each link’s post is performing

      Sniply also makes it easy for users to engage. Complex links can scare people away. However, short, neat URLs may help your audience feel more comfortable sharing your posts.

      Pricing: The basic option begins at $29 per month for up to two brand profiles, one team member, and 5,000 clicks. The Pro plan comes in at $79 per month and gets you six brand profiles, three team members, and 20,000 clicks.

      5. Woorise

      An example of a giveaway made with Woorise.

      If you want your users to engage with your brand, you may need to go beyond traditional CTAs. Providing users with more interactive content such as giveaways can get them more invested – especially if engagement metrics such as likes and shares are part of the entry conditions.

      This is why we recommend Woorise. This tool comes with several functions, but we’re particularly impressed with its giveaway functionality. It offers a ton of ways to create a stellar contest that will get your audience interacting with you, such as:

      • Require combinations of specific engagement activities such as follows and comments for users to enter
      • Customize the sign-up page with everything from the color palette to photos
      • Embed widgets on social media to ensure that all of your audiences have a chance to sign up

      Simply put, giveaways work because users get invested. Not only will this boost your engagement metrics, but it can also encourage them to follow your brand for more opportunities.

      To get the most out of Woorise, consider doing small giveaways regularly. These provide more chances for people to share your content. As a bonus, these can also be a lot easier on your budget.

      Pricing: You can get started with a free version that has limited functionality. As for the paid version, you can start at $23 per month for one site with unlimited campaigns and 2,000 entries per month. If you want to bump that up to 5,000 entries, you can choose the Grow plan at $39 per month.

      6. Social Searcher

      An example of multiple tweets collected by Social Searcher.

      Part of successfully boosting engagement is knowing what your audience is talking about. This doesn’t just apply to trends, either: knowing how your users feel about your brand, in general, is crucial to creating the content that they want to interact with. That’s why we’re fans of Social Searcher.

      Social Searcher is – as the name suggests – a search engine geared towards social media platforms. It can help you monitor what people are saying about you across multiple sites at once. This applies to individual sites or a more generalized report.

      Here are a few stand-out features that make Social Searcher worth your consideration:

      • Tracking of tagged posts, as well as ones that mention your brand
      • Analysis comparing positive mentions against negative ones
      • Alerts about top hashtags in your niche to help your content stay timely

      Generally speaking, users will only interact with posts that are relevant to them. Social Searcher can help you boost engagement by pinpointing these topics and responding accordingly. You might also be able to use it to learn more about your audience.

      Our favorite thing about this tool is the universal dashboard. You can get information on users across several different sites, allowing you to focus on specific campaigns while also understanding the bigger picture.

      Pricing: You can use a limited version of this tool for free. Paid plans start at 3.49 Euros per month (roughly $4.04). They also offer a 14-day free trial, so you can give it a shot before you commit.

      7. Easy Affiliate

      A sample interface for the Easy Affiliate plugin.

      If you aren’t using an affiliate program for your brand, now might be the time to start. Working with influencers can be a natural and affordable way to reach new audiences on social media. Their work on these platforms can in turn lead curious users to your profile for more information.

      However, managing affiliates across different social media accounts can be tough. If you’re looking for a tool to help you out, we recommend Easy Affiliate. This resource enables you to manage, track, and reward the influencers that boost your engagement metrics the most.

      Easy Affiliate uses several powerful features to help you organize your program, including:

      • The opportunity to provide affiliates with full feature links and banners for a consistent brand experience
      • An easy-to-understand dashboard that helps you see your top performers
      • A simple payout system to accurately compensate those who can increase your engagement the most

      Influencers are more than just a way to advertise your site – they can also organically boost brand awareness. Users who trust these affiliates might in turn trust your brand and seek out your content. This can help you increase your engagement and boost your conversion rate.

      Pricing: Let’s take a look at Easy Affiliate’s pricing. The basic plan starts at $99.50. This will give you all the features for a single site, including unlimited affiliates and a full tracking system.

      Getting by With a Little Help From Our Friends

      Social media engagement is essential for modern brands. User interactions can be the difference between a low profile and a huge following. Fortunately, boosting your engagement metrics can be easy with the help of a few key tools.

      In this article, we showed you seven different tools. Some of them can appeal to users directly, while others can provide crucial insights into your audience. By using one – or even a few! – you can start taking full advantage of your brand’s potential.

      Get Social and Grow Your Business with DreamHost

      Our experts will help create a powerful social media strategy and level up your execution so you can focus on running your business.

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      Tools to Scale Your SaaS Startup Painlessly


      How to Join

      This Tech Talk is free and open to everyone. Register below to get a link to join the live stream or receive the video recording after it airs.

      Date Time RSVP
      March 30, 2021 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. ET / 3:00–4:00 p.m. GMT

      About the Talk

      Join us for a fireside chat where we take a closer look at tools that help founders scale a SaaS startup.

      What You’ll Learn

      • Scaling a SaaS product: improve application performance
      • Getting the most out of your cloud credits

      About the Presenters

      This panel is moderated by Jade Wang, who runs the Cloudflare for Startups program. She previously co-founded Sandstorm.io, ran a network of hacker houses, and grew the community of Meteor, an open source project.

      To join the live Tech Talk, register here.



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