Black box web application penetration testing

If your organization is developing or maintaining web applications, you should consider performing black-box web application penetration testing.

Ethical hackers who have no prior knowledge of the application or its underlying architecture are performing black box penetration tests. The goal of these tests is to identify security flaws that attackers could exploit.

Organizations can benefit from black box web application penetration tests in several ways. First, these tests can help identify vulnerabilities that may not be obvious to developers. Second, black box penetration tests can help assess the security of the applications from the perspective of an attacker.

Finally, these tests can help organizations to understand the types of attacks that could be used against their applications.

What is black box web application penetration testing?

A black box web application test is a type of security testing that an ethical hacker is conducting without any knowledge of the inner workings of the systems. The tester tries to find vulnerabilities by looking at the system from the outside, just as an attacker would. This type of testing is often used to assess the security of web applications.

To conduct a black box web application penetration test, the tester will first need to gather information about the system. The tester can do it by looking at the website, looking for publicity available information, or even conducting social engineering attacks. Once the tester has some information about the system, they can start trying to find vulnerabilities.

Some common techniques used in black box web application penetration testing include SQL injection, cross-site scripting, unauthorized access, and denial of service attacks. It is important to note that before performing a penetration test, you will need to get the go-ahead from the application owner. The tester will need to provide documentation about all the tests they perform, as well as any vulnerabilities they find.

How does it work?

To carry out a black box test, the tester will first need to gather information about the system, such as the URL, any public information about the application, and the type of technology it is using. With this information, the tester can then start trying to find ways to break into the system. He or she can do it by trying to guess passwords, looking for unpatched vulnerabilities, or trying to bypass security controls.

If the tester can find a way in, they can then look for a point where they can maintain access to the system. This means that the attacker can keep coming back to commit crimes and steal data.

Once the tester has found a way to maintain access, they will need to find a way to permanently maintain access to the system. This involves hiding their tracks and preventing the site from being patched.

How to know if a black box tester is good?

Anyone other than the application’s owner cannot tell if the tests were properly performed. There are, however, a few indicators. One of the best indicators is if the vulnerabilities found are serious and already reported.

If the only findings are low-risk issues, such as information disclosure or remote code execution with confirmation, it could be that the tester didn’t find anything serious because the owner already patched those vulnerabilities. It’s also possible that the tester didn’t find any vulnerabilities at all because the application is already very safe and doesn’t have any critical flaws.

Cost of the black box web application penetration testing

Penetration testing can cost a fair amount of money, and the average prices vary depending on several factors. The size of the tester, whether they are recommended by anyone, and the severity of the vulnerabilities found will all play a part in pricing.

Black box testing is usually more expensive than white box testing, though white box testing can be too invasive and expensive for smaller companies. Black box testing can cost between $500 and $20,000 per month, while white box testing can cost upwards of $100,000 per month.

What tools do black box testers use

As a black box tester explores a site, they’ll use a variety of tools to exploit the vulnerabilities they find. The combination of tools used will vary from tester to tester. The one commonality between all black box testers, however, is that they don’t know the architecture or design of the application they are testing. This means they can’t use manual testing tools, like scanners, that request an understanding of the structure of the program.

Cheat sheets and vulnerability databases are also popular tools for black box testers to have on hand. These tools are databases of known vulnerabilities, including information on what causes the vulnerabilities, how to detect if a vulnerability is present, and how to fix it. The most popular vulnerability database is CHECK, Internet Security Pro Community, and NVD.

Parts of a black box test report

As a black box tester finds vulnerabilities in an application, they will document their findings in a report. This report will include information on vulnerabilities found as well as recommendations on how to fix them. A vulnerability report template, or VRT, is the most common format for these reports. A tester may use one or more VRTs, depending on the type of vulnerability they find.

  • Vulnerability Report – You can use this VRT to document critical and high-level vulnerabilities, like cross-site scripting, authentication issues, and logic flaws.
  • Evaluation Report – You can use this to document the quality of a web application, including its architecture, design, processing logic, and the security measures in place.
  • Bug Report – You can use this VRT to document bugs not considered vulnerabilities, like poorly implemented features or user interface flaws.

As black box testing techniques and tools have evolved, so has the format of these reports, and the exact information included in them.

How does black box testing help the client?

As a white box test client learns about the vulnerabilities their application is likely to contain, they can take steps to fix them. They can also use the information to improve the code quality of the application, improving the functionality and security of the code itself.

The tester’s findings are also very useful to the client as they plan a new release of their application. If the application is live on the internet, a released update can cause a lot of trouble if it contains new vulnerabilities.

The tester can help the client release the update in a way that minimizes the impact on its users and keeps the website online.

It is also valuable to know how an attacker would attack your application, so you can build countermeasures to those tactics.

As a tester tells a client how they would attack the application, and countermeasures would work, the client can learn a lot about how to improve their application and how to build a defense against attacks.

What are the benefits of black box web application penetration testing?

Benefits of black box web application penetration testing include the ability to find hidden vulnerabilities, identify weaknesses in security controls, and gain insights into the system from the perspective of an attacker.

Black box testing can help organizations to improve their security posture and make their systems more resilient to attacks. The amount of time required to conduct black box penetration tests is relatively short, and the cost is also low.


Black box web application penetration testing is becoming increasingly important as the world becomes more interconnected. As more and more businesses move their operations online, the need to ensure the security of these systems becomes more and more pressing. By utilizing the techniques described in this article, you can help to ensure that your system is as secure as possible.

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