Current Date :June 15, 2024

Benefits and Drawbacks of Automated vs. Manual Security Testing

Ensuring the security of software programmes is crucial in the current digital environment. Organisations must use strong security testing services to find and fix flaws as cyber threats get more complex. Security testing can be done in two main ways: automatically and manually. Every approach has specific benefits and drawbacks, so it’s critical to comprehend their functions and the situations in which they work best.

Security Testing Done Automatically

Software tools are used in automated security testing services to find vulnerabilities in programmes. A range of tests are carried out by these tools, including as interactive application security testing (IAST), dynamic analysis, and static analysis.

Benefits of Security Testing Automatically

1. Speed and Efficiency: Compared to manual testing, automated methods can scan vast codebases quickly and find potential vulnerabilities considerably more quickly. This effectiveness is especially useful in pipelines for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), where prompt feedback is essential.

2. Consistency and Repeatability: Automated tests guarantee that the same set of vulnerabilities are checked for each run as they are repeatable and consistent. By doing this, the possibility of human error and oversight during manual testing is decreased.


3. Scalability: Large and sophisticated applications can be handled by automated testing methods, which makes them appropriate for lengthy projects. Additionally, they can be set to execute on a predetermined period, guaranteeing ongoing surveillance of the security posture of the application.

4. Early Detection: By integrating automated security tests into the development process, vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed early in the development cycle. By taking a shift-left stance, security flaws can be fixed later on with less expense and work.

5. Extensive Coverage: Automated tools can cover a broad spectrum of security checks, ranging from simple flaws like cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection to more complicated problems like misconfigurations and unsecure dependencies.

Drawbacks of Security Testing Automated

1. False Positives and Negatives: Automated tools have the potential to produce false positives, or to mark non-vulnerabilities as such, wasting time and money. On the other hand, because to limits in their scanning capabilities, they may also fail to detect some vulnerabilities (false negatives).

2. Lack of Contextual Understanding: Automated tools may find it difficult to comprehend an application’s context, which could result in results that are erroneous or incomplete. They could overlook contextual concerns that call for human insight and defects in business logic.

3. Initial Configuration and Upkeep: Configuring automated security testing instruments can be difficult and time-consuming. To guarantee that the tools continue to be effective against emerging and changing threats, regular maintenance and upgrades are required.

4. Cost: Since high-quality automated security testing solutions can be pricey, smaller businesses or startups with tighter resources may find it difficult to use them.

Human Verification of Security

Experts in security undertake manual security testing by analysing the application and looking for flaws. This strategy makes use of techniques including exploratory testing, code reviews, and penetration testing.

Benefits of Human Security Testing

1. Human Insight and Creativity: When it comes to testing, human testers contribute their creativity, intuition, and contextual knowledge. They are able to detect weaknesses in business logic, complicated vulnerabilities, and other problems that automated tools can overlook.

2. In-Depth Analysis: Manual testing enables a closer, more in-depth look at the application. Based on the results, testers might modify their approach and follow up on leads that automated systems might overlook.

3. Real-World Attack Scenarios: By simulating real-world attack scenarios, manual testers can evaluate an application’s security posture with greater accuracy. They are able to investigate different attack avenues and think like attackers.

4. Flexibility: Manual testing can be customised to meet unique needs in unique settings. Based on the particulars of the application and the possible threat landscape, testers can modify their approaches.

5. Verification of Automated Results: By eliminating false positives and identifying false negatives, manual testing helps confirm the results of automated technologies. The security assessment’s overall correctness and dependability are improved by this combination.

Drawbacks of Human Security Examination

1. Time-consuming: Manual testing is a lot of work and takes a long time. A comprehensive application test takes a lot of work, which can impede the development cycle.

2. Higher Cost: Because it requires more experienced personnel, manual security testing is usually more expensive than automated testing. The expenses may be too much for organisations with little funding.

3. Inconsistency: Depending on the tester’s experience and devotion, the manual testing’s depth and quality may differ. Human error is a possibility, and several testers might yield different outcomes.

4. Limited Coverage: Manual testing may not cover as wide a range of vulnerabilities as automated testing. It is challenging for human testers to replicate the exhaustive and repetitive nature of automated scans.

Integrating Human and Automated Security Testing

Many organisations choose a hybrid strategy that takes advantage of the advantages of both automated and manual security testing, given the benefits and drawbacks of each method.

1. Complementary Strengths: While manual testing shines at in-depth analysis and context-specific vulnerabilities, automated testing is great for wide, repetitive scans and early identification. Having both together offers complete security protection.

2. Improved Accuracy: While manual testers can concentrate on confirming findings and delving into intricate problems, automated systems can manage frequent inspections and extensive scanning. As a result, there are fewer false positives and negatives.

3. Effective Use of Resources: By automating repetitive processes, human testers may focus on more complex and critical security issues, maximising the use of both automated technologies and human knowledge.

4. Continuous Improvement: Periodic manual testing yields more in-depth information, while routine automatic scans enable continuous monitoring. This ongoing feedback loop aids in keeping a strong security posture.

Concluding

Both automatic and manual methods play vital roles in the field of security testing. Because it can be done quickly, consistently, and scalable, automated security testing is invaluable for large-scale systems and continuous integration. However, the human insight and inventiveness of manual security testing is required due to its limitations in contextual awareness and false positive/negative rates.

By combining the advantages of automated technologies and the know-how of professional testers, organisations may provide a security assessment that is more thorough and accurate. By extensively screening apps for weaknesses, this hybrid approach improves their resistance to constantly changing cyberthreats.

The decision between automated and manual security testing should not be based on which is better; rather, it should be based on how well they can work together to deliver reliable security testing services. Software application security will depend on the cooperation of human knowledge and automated efficiency as cyber threats become more complex.

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