Security Checklist

Application security checklist by various functions

Application security is a critical topic. Being a good engineer requires being aware of Application security best practices. We should practice defensive programming and ensure run security checks much earlier and more frequently during every phase of the software development. The earlier we catch vulnerabilities, the less dramatic and expensive those violations are to resolve. Waiting until release will just leave us nervous and unprepared. Delivering security alongside the continuous delivery of software, we'll identify security problems before they become hopelessly entangled in the application and therefore more difficult, and costly, to resolve.

Teams should ensure the following checks to deliver security.

1. Design Considerations

Injecting Security in the design phase means addressing design decisions that take into account the perspective of an attacker that is trying to breach weaknesses and compromise the confidentiality, integrity and other important security aspects of your software.

2. Development Considerations


JWT (JSON Web Token)







3. CI/CD Considerations

4. Testing Considerations

Information Gathering

A successful web application security strategy fundamentally begins with an understanding of the interactions between the web server, users, and applications. While application deployment platforms vary, key vulnerabilities in infrastructure configuration act as a common weak link for threat actors to initiate an attack.

Some key application security information-gathering activities include:

  • Identify technologies used

  • Identify user roles

  • Identify application entry points

  • Identify client-side code

  • Identify multiple versions/channels (e.g. web, mobile web, mobile app, web services)

  • Identify co-hosted and related applications

  • Identify all hostnames and ports

  • Identify third-party hosted content

Configuration Management

A web server ecosystem is intrinsically complex with highly connected, heterogeneous services and components working together. Reviewing and managing the configuration of the server is, as a result, a very crucial aspect for maintaining robust security across multiple layers of an application.

Securing various configuration items of an application involves:

  • Check for commonly used application and administrative URLs

  • Check for old, backup and unreferenced files

  • Check HTTP methods supported and Cross Site Tracing (XST)

  • Test file extensions handling

  • Test for security HTTP headers (e.g. CSP, X-Frame-Options, HSTS)

  • Test for policies (e.g. Flash, Silverlight, robots)

  • Test for non-production data in live environment, and vice-versa

  • Check for sensitive data in client-side code (e.g. API keys, credentials)

Secure Transmission

  • Check SSL Version, Algorithms, Key length

  • Check for Digital Certificate Validity (Duration, Signature and CN)

  • Check credentials only delivered over HTTPS

  • Check that the login form is delivered over HTTPS

  • Check session tokens only delivered over HTTPS

  • Check if HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) in use


  • Test for user enumeration

  • Test for authentication bypass

  • Test for bruteforce protection

  • Test password quality rules

  • Test remember me functionality

  • Test for autocomplete on password forms/input

  • Test password reset and/or recovery

  • Test password change process

  • Test CAPTCHA

  • Test multi-factor authentication

  • Test for logout functionality presence

  • Test for cache management on HTTP (eg Pragma, Expires, Max-age)

  • Test for default logins

  • Test for user-accessible authentication history

  • Test for out-of-channel notification of account lockouts and successful password changes

  • Test for consistent authentication across applications with shared authentication schema / SSO

Session Management

Once a user is authenticated, their interaction with the server is managed within a session. Improperly managed sessions open doors for attackers to compromise access mechanisms by assuming those to be identities of legitimate users. More so, such compromised accesses are often taken advantage of by attack vectors that escalate privileges and penetrate deeper into the system. To avoid vulnerabilities within a session, the following processes are recommended to be tested as a best practice:

  • Establish how session management is handled in the application (eg, tokens in cookies, token in URL)

  • Check session tokens for cookie flags (httpOnly and secure)

  • Check session cookie scope (path and domain)

  • Check session cookie duration (expires and max-age)

  • Check session termination after a maximum lifetime

  • Check session termination after a relative timeout

  • Check session termination after logout

  • Test to see if users can have multiple simultaneous sessions

  • Test session cookies for randomness

  • Confirm that new session tokens are issued on login, role change and logout

  • Test for consistent session management across applications with shared session management

  • Test for session puzzling

  • Test for CSRF and clickjacking


  • Test for path traversal

  • Test for bypassing authorization schema

  • Test for vertical Access control problems (a.k.a. Privilege Escalation)

  • Test for horizontal Access control problems (between two users at the same privilege level)

  • Test for missing authorization

Data Validation

  • Test for Reflected Cross Site Scripting

  • Test for Stored Cross Site Scripting

  • Test for DOM based Cross Site Scripting

  • Test for Cross Site Flashing

  • Test for HTML Injection

  • Test for SQL Injection

  • Test for LDAP Injection

  • Test for ORM Injection

  • Test for XML Injection

  • Test for XXE Injection

  • Test for SSI Injection

  • Test for XPath Injection

  • Test for XQuery Injection

  • Test for IMAP/SMTP Injection

  • Test for Code Injection

  • Test for Expression Language Injection

  • Test for Command Injection

  • Test for Overflow (Stack, Heap and Integer)

  • Test for Format String

  • Test for incubated vulnerabilities

  • Test for HTTP Splitting/Smuggling

  • Test for HTTP Verb Tampering

  • Test for Open Redirection

  • Test for Local File Inclusion

  • Test for Remote File Inclusion

  • Compare client-side and server-side validation rules

  • Test for NoSQL injection

  • Test for HTTP parameter pollution

  • Test for auto-binding

  • Test for Mass Assignment

  • Test for NULL/Invalid Session Cookie

Denial of Service

  • Test for anti-automation

  • Test for account lockout

  • Test for HTTP protocol DoS

  • Test for SQL wildcard DoS

Business Logic

Hackers mostly leverage an application’s original programmed flow to orchestrate breaches and penetration attacks. As a result, it is recommended to assess the business and application’s configuration to identify vulnerabilities in code or business logic that could be used for potential exploits.

  • Test for feature misuse

  • Test for lack of non-repudiation

  • Test for trust relationships

  • Test for integrity of data

  • Test segregation of duties


Cryptography ensures the secure exchange of information by using algorithms that transform human-readable data into a ciphertext-encrypted output. While doing so, the process establishes trust between the web server and network entities using security keys, making it an important mechanism for maintaining application security. Testing cryptography for maintaining application security involves:

  • Check if the data which should be encrypted is not

  • Check for wrong algorithms usage depending on the context

  • Check for weak algorithms usage

  • Check for proper use of salting

  • Check for randomness functions

Risky Functionality - File Uploads

  • Test that acceptable file types are whitelisted

  • Test that file size limits, upload frequency and total file counts are defined and are enforced

  • Test that file contents match the defined file type

  • Test that all file uploads have Anti-Virus scanning in-place.

  • Test that unsafe filenames are sanitised

  • Test that uploaded files are not directly accessible within the web root

  • Test that uploaded files are not served on the same hostname/port

  • Test that files and other media are integrated with the authentication and authorisation schemas

Risky Functionality - Card Payment

  • Test for known vulnerabilities and configuration issues on the Web Server and Web Application

  • Test for default or guessable password

  • Test for non-production data in a live environment, and vice-versa

  • Test for Injection vulnerabilities

  • Test for Buffer Overflows

  • Test for Insecure Cryptographic Storage

  • Test for Insufficient Transport Layer Protection

  • Test for Improper Error Handling

  • Test for all vulnerabilities with a CVSS v2 score > 4.0

  • Test for Authentication and Authorization issues

  • Test for CSRF


  • Test Web Messaging

  • Test for Web Storage SQL injection

  • Check CORS implementation

  • Check Offline Web Application

5. Infra-Security Considerations

Kubernetes Cluster/Infra Security

Application Access

6. Deployment Considerations

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