Main Security Testing Roadblocks for Startups | Vumetric

Main Security Testing Roadblocks for Startups

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As a decision-maker in a SaaS startup, you might often find that your application security strategy is not getting the attention it deserves. There can be several pertinent reasons for this to occur. It is especially seen in new startups where the focus is more on product innovation, enhancements and customer satisfaction.

However, in order to build a trusted and competitive business, it is imperative that careful considerations are given in regards to security testing or penetration testing of SaaS applications.

In this article, we take a detailed look at 3 of the main security testing roadblocks that are commonly faced by SaaS startups. We also explore why it has become crucial to invest in penetration testing for sustainable success.

Here are the main roadblocks faced by startups when it comes to security testing:

1. Limited Resource Allocation for Security Testing

For most SaaS startups, the business focus lies on increasing their revenue generation. The limited resources that are available are hence dedicated to aspects like product development and innovation. As a result, security takes a back seat. Additionally, a large number of these startups do not have any personnel or role dedicated to security. This means that security is often a grey area and is often handled by individuals who are not fully equipped for the task and preoccupied by other priorities.

All these factors make it especially difficult to have a substantial security budget and a detailed strategy in place, which often leaves security testing on the back burner. But here’s the catch. When startups invest in Pentesting, they can actually pitch for and acquire investments, enter into new beneficial deals and partnerships, and most importantly, sell these solutions to big clients.

Most large organizations mandate pen testing on software as a condition for partnership to minimize their risks of being exposed to security threats from SaaS applications. Thus, while allocating resources from your limited budget for security testing might seem counter-intuitive, in reality, it is a necessity. Penetration testing investments pave the path for new opportunities, more investments, and ultimately more resources for innovation.

2. SaaS Developers Are Not Focused On Security

It is common for developers to not be geared to have a security focus. This primarily stems from the fact that developers usually have limited knowledge about application security and are not conversant about security frameworks like the OWASP top 10. Hence, they often feel that their security measures are good enough, when they are in fact insufficient and leaving them exposed to potentially costly incidents.

Another common challenge is that developers tend to be on the defensive when it comes to receiving feedback from security testing on their products. This is quite normal, especially when you consider the fact that developers work hard night and day to develop a new solution or application. They might feel that their code is secure and hence, would not actively seek out Pen testing since that can sometimes result in major changes to improve security.

When you include recurring penetration tests into your security strategy, you not only implement industry best practices but also help bring more awareness to the importance of secure development. With regular and continued implementation of security testing practices, developers learn more about the potential vulnerabilities they could introduce and begin to understand the value of secure development. Eventually, you will create a culture where developers will consider security as part of their development. With a focus on security, they can take care of vulnerabilities proactively, preventing an accumulation of risks that might require a major overhaul down the road.

3. They Cannot Afford To Fix Every Vulnerability

A common roadblock for startups when it comes to application security is that it not feasible to address and fix each and every vulnerability, which makes them reluctant to test their solution. With the limited resources available, you have to accept the fact that security flaws are inevitable. This is even the case for large organizations with hundreds of employees. However, in such a scenario, it is extremely crucial to prioritize which vulnerabilities need to be addressed first.

An effective practice in this regard is to ask yourself whether you can justify to your customers and stakeholders why you chose to address a concern over another one, should the threat become publicly known, a common practice for organizations like Adobe. A penetration test will allow you to categorize the vulnerabilities per risk level (For e.g. as Critical-High-Medium-Low) and help with your risk-management strategy.

Penetration testing, thus allows you to identify your most important vulnerabilities, help you determine where you should allocate your resources, and protect your customers from exposure to these threats.

Overcome These Security Testing Roadblocks

Roadblocks like those mentioned above, while common, can be effectively addressed with some careful and strategic planning. SaaS organizations that can manage to do so always gain a sustainable advantage over their competitors.

That is why we have developed solutions that help Startups identify and fix their vulnerabilities effectively. Our Pentest for Startups program is specifically designed for SaaS startups and facilitates them to carry out security tests for their solutions at a reduced cost.

 

A penetration test is a simulated hacking attempt that identifies opportunities for real hackers to break through your defences and perform various malicious acts. It generally leverages tools used by hackers and various professional methodologies to replicate the steps that modern hackers would take to intrude into your IT systems.


A pentest attempts to exploit your vulnerabilities to determine their potential impact, should they be used in a real hacking scenario. They provide a list of vulnerabilities with their respective level of severity, as well as technical recommendations to help your team apply corrective measures and focus on the most critical vulnerabilities.


These services allow your organization to answer the following questions, among several others:

  • Can a hacker gain access to any sensitive information?
  • Can a hacker hijack my technologies for any malicious acts?
  • Could a malware infection spread through the network?
  • Can an attacker escalate access to an administrative user?

Learn more about penetration testing →

There are many contexts in which a penetration test should be performed.

Here are some common use cases for a pentest:
  • As part of the development cycle of an application. (To test the security of a new feature/app)
  • To comply with security requirements. (3rd-parties, PCI, ISO27001, etc.)
  • To secure sensitive data from exfiltration.
  • To prevent infections by malware. (Ransomware, spyware, etc.)
  • To prevent disruptive cyberattacks. (Such as denial of service)
  • As part of a cybersecurity risk management strategy.
All businesses are advised to conduct a penetration test at least once a year, as well as after any significant upgrades or modifications to the company network. Given the rapid rate at which new exploits are discovered, we generally recommend that quarterly tests are performed.

The time required to successfully execute a penetration test depends on the scope and type of test. Most penetration tests can be performed within a couple of days, but some can span over several weeks, sometimes even months depending on the complexity of the project.

Various steps are taken over the course of the project to prevent the potential impact of our tests on the stability of your technological environment and the continuity of your business operations.

For this reason, a communication plan will be put in place at the beginning of the project to prevent and mitigate any potential impact. A representative of your organization will be identified to act as the main point of contact to ensure rapid communication in the event of a situation directly impacting the conduct of your daily operations, or if any critical vulnerabilities are identified, for which  corrective measures need to be implemented quickly.

While we use a simple 4 levels risk rating approach (Critical, High, Moderate, Low), our risk assessment is actually based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) standard. Two main criteria are considered when  assessing the risk level of each vulnerability:

  • Potential impact: The potential impact of an attack based on a vulnerability, combined with its  potential effect on the availability of the system, as well as the confidentiality and integrity of  the data.
  • Exploitability: The potential exploitability of a vulnerability; a vulnerability that is easier to  exploit increases the number of potential attackers and thus the likelihood of an attack.  Different factors are considered when evaluating the exploitability potential of a vulnerability  (e.g.: access vector, authentication, operational complexity, etc.)

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