10 Easy Steps to Conduct Your First Web App Penetration Testing

As the digital landscape expands, web applications have become integral to our daily lives. However, with increased connectivity comes an elevated risk of cyber threats. Performing penetration testing on web applications helps you to identify and mitigate potential security vulnerabilities so they cannot be neglected.

In this blog, we will take you through the process of conducting your first web app penetration testing, ensuring the security and integrity of your online platforms.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Understand the Basics of Penetration Testing

Understanding the fundamental ideas is required before moving on to web application penetration testing. Penetration, often called “pen testing,” involves simulating an actual attack on a web application to identify vulnerabilities. Its purpose is to discover weaknesses in the application of security mechanisms that criminals can exploit.

Step 2: Define the Scope and Goals 

Start by easily defining the scope and pretensions of your penetration testing. Decide which phases of the web operation you will be testing, such as authentication, input confirmation, and data storage. Establish specific objects, like identifying SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities.

Penetration testing involves actively probing the web application for vulnerabilities, which can potentially disrupt its functionality. Obtaining explicit permission and consent from the application's owner or stakeholders is crucial before conducting any tests. This ensures that your actions are legal and ethical.

Step 4: Identify Tools and Techniques

Select the appropriate tools and techniques for your penetration testing process. You can utilize widely used tools like Burp Suite, OWASP ZAP, and Nmap to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. Additionally, to align your testing objectives, it is important to acquaint yourself with common testing techniques such as black-box testing, white-box testing, and grey-box testing.

Step 5: Observation and Information Gathering

Begin by gathering information about the web application, such as its URL structure, technologies used, and potential entry points. This initial reconnaissance phase helps you understand the application's architecture and aids in identifying potential attack vectors.

Step 6: Vulnerability Scanning

Use automated vulnerability scanning instruments to pinpoint common vulnerabilities. These instruments can swiftly catch on to common vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and outdated software factors. Manual testing is essential to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Step 7: Manual Testing and Exploitation

Manually test identified vulnerabilities to determine their severity and potential impact. Use your knowledge and experience to find the vulnerabilities and gain a deeper understanding of their impact. Write down your discoveries and the process you followed to implement them.

Step 8: Privilege Escalation and Post-Exploitation

If you gain initial access to the application, explore the possibility of privilege escalation. Attempt to escalate your privileges to gain access to sensitive data or higher levels of control. Post-exploitation activities involve assessing the extent of the breach and its potential consequences.

Step 9: Reporting and Documentation

Make a thorough report presenting the vulnerabilities you have found, the steps you followed to uncover them, and their possible impact. Include evidence and screenshots to illustrate your findings. Prioritize vulnerabilities based on their severity and provide recommendations for mitigation.

Step 10: Remediation and Follow-Up

Share your findings and recommendations with the application owner or development team. Collaborate to develop a plan for addressing the identified vulnerabilities. After the vulnerabilities are fixed, the next penetration test round should be performed to ensure security steps are effectively implemented.


Even though it could seem complex, your first attempt at web app penetration testing will surely teach you a lot and give you more confidence in the security of your web application. Following the instructions in this manual will give you crucial insights into the security status of your web app and enable you to take preventative action to defend it from future online threats. Remember that maintaining cybersecurity requires continual testing and updating to thwart malicious actors.

About Author

Moin Shaikh width=Moin Shaikh, a seasoned Senior QA Executive, embarked on a remarkable journey in software quality assurance in 2018. With a passion for precision and an unwavering commitment to excellence, they have diligently honed their skills over the years, becoming prominent figures in the realm of quality assurance. Today, he is a valuable asset to a Software Testing Company bringing his expertise and dedication to ensuring top-notch quality in software products.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Moin finds inspiration in photography, where he captures the beauty of moments uniquely. He also shares a deep love for the imaginative realms of science fiction, both in movies and series.