Black-box security testing refers to a method of software security testing in which the security controls, defences and design of an application are tested from the outside-in, with little or no prior knowledge of the application’s internal workings. Essentially, black-box testing takes an approach similar to that of a real attacker.

Since black-box security testing does not assume or have knowledge of the target being tested, it is a technology independent method of testing. This makes it ideal for a variety of situations, particularly, when testing for vulnerabilities that arise from deployment issues and server misconfigurations.

In addition, it offers the opportunity to cover a wide test coverage with a very low false-positives rate when compared to other testing methodologies.

An automated web application black-box security test would start by collecting information about the target. This is typically accomplished by crawling the web application for all links, taking a note of all inputs present on a page, as well as attempting to fingerprint specific technologies the web application is making use of.

The crawling stage is imperative to an automated black-box security test since this is where the black-box scanner will identify what inputs to test. A black-box security scanner will typically use a mixture of passive (typically, during the crawl) and active (typically, post-crawl) vulnerability testing techniques.

Alerts raised by a black-box security scan will then provide detailed information about vulnerabilities discovered, as well as remediation advice.

black-box security testing

Beyond one-off black-box security tests and PDF reports, automated black-box security testing tools are commonly integrated with issue trackers such as Atlassian JIRA, GitHub and Microsoft TFS; as well as Continuous Integration (CI) platforms such as Jenkins.

Ian Muscat

Acunetix developers and tech agents regularly contribute to the blog. All the Acunetix developers come with years of experience in the web security sphere.