Security testing: 5 security testing challenges & how to solve them

How to Tackle Security Testing Challenges

How to tackle security challenges

How to Tackle Security Testing Challenges


Cybersecurity ventures stated that cybercrime is expected to grow by 15% every year. They predicted that those crimes might cost $10.5 trillion annually on a global scale by the year 2025. Security testing plays a vital role in preventing most of these crimes. 

 In this article, let’s look at five security testing challenges and how to tackle them. 

Challenge 1: Focusing on security requirements in the requirements phase

Generally, security requirements are not given equal importance as functional requirements. Sometimes security requirements are considered post-developing certain modules and, in some cases, it is before pre-release. Not defining the security requirements prior makes security testing difficult. 


  • Ask, clarify, and document security-related requirement questions for each story/feature in the requirement-defining phase of SDLC. 
  • Document security requirements before the design phase 
  • Identify, analyze, and prioritize security risk and mitigation plans. 
  • Motivate team members to have an agile mindset toward security testing.  

Challenge 2: Writing test cases for security testing and updating them regularly

Functional test cases are typically given a high level of importance. Even though we write positive and negative cases, it doesn’t have quality test data to cover security use and misuse cases. Sometimes test cases are written before security testing starts. In some cases, security testing is done ad hoc without writing any test cases.  

Delaying the test case writing reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of security testing. Since we follow agile methodology, updating the test case based on the new or modified requirements is essential. 


  • Write test cases with proper test data to cover security use and misuse cases before development. 
  • Review security test cases with business analysts and developers. 
  • Make test case writing and updating a mandatory practice. 
  • Update test cases and test data to avoid pesticide paradox. 
  • Prioritize and test against the test case    

Challenge 3: Including API Security

API security is as important as front-end security. Most of the attacks that happened through security testing at the API level, remained unnoticed unless we were given access to the database. Also, APIs might have some sensitive data exposed to unauthorized users.  

APIs are developed early. Therefore, API security testing ensures the basic security requirements are met. 


  • Define security requirements and write test cases needed for API security testing 
  • Identify and update the test case on a regular basis. 
  • Automate API security testing. 
  • Start API security testing early, raise bugs, and track them. 

Challenge 4: Security Testing Skillset

This is the biggest challenge. We decided to implement security testing and started self-learning. But there were only a few resources online. Security testing is vast, and we weren’t sure about the proper methods.  

Outsourcing might seem a good option but handing the security testing solely to an external team is not preferable. It would be time-consuming, and we might miss some critical security bugs.  

An internal team can perform effective preliminary testing as they are aware of the sensitive data to be protected, source code, and requirements. 


  • Self-Learning security testing from freely available sources. 
  • Following a proper security testing course from experts in the security domain 
  • Conduct internal KT sessions on security testing 

Challenge 5: Selection of tools

There are various tools available for security testing. The skillset of the tester and the budget determine the selection of tools. Initially, I was using OWASP ZAP. Then I started using Burp Suite on a tech lead’s suggestion.  

ZAP is best for API security testing. It is more convenient to get and view all APIs in a site tree using ZAP. Burp Suite is the most preferred tool by most web security testers. Burp Suite’s intercepting proxy lets us view and modify requests/responses conveniently and shows how UI responds to them. 


  • Each tool has its advantage, the best is not to stick to one tool 
  • Identify static and dynamic testing tools that best suit your project/product. 
  • Improve the skillset of developers and testers on those tools 


Due to time constraints, when a secure software development cycle isn’t practised, it is only possible to do ad hoc testing for security. Since the security requirements are not defined, and the sensitivity of the data is not recorded anywhere, it is tough to conclude a security bug. So, the confidence in security test coverage is low. This could lead to an unpredictable release.  

We could easily achieve the basic level of security of an application in a new project if we follow the above solutions. In an ongoing project/product, it is partially feasible to implement the BDD method of agile security testing.  

Defining security requirements early would avoid conflicts and confusion in the later phases and minimizes security-related bugs. It improves the accountability of the internal team on the security of the application, thereby resulting in a predictable release with minimum cost, stress, and risk. 

Authored by Shamphavi Shanmugasundram @ BISTEC Global

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