Harmful Browser Security Threats: How to Avoid Them?

A web browser is the most commonly used application or portal for the users to get access to the internet.
These browsers are much advanced with enhanced usability and ubiquity. An individual is exposed to various internet browsers. Each of them consists of some perceived and real benefits.

However, it is also true that none of them are actually safe from security threats. In fact, website browsers are more prone to security vulnerabilities and when users interact with websites it holds possibilities of malware and other threats in it.
Taking this into consideration, below are some most common browser security threats and how to protect your system against them:
Removing Saved Login Credentials
Bookmarks paired with saved logins for the associated sites are a very bad combination and does not really favor your system.
When such is done, a hacker with even minimal knowledge can hack it.
There are some websites that use two -factor authentication like texting OTPs to your mobile phone for access.
However, a lot of them take into use this as a one-time access code so that a person is able to confirm his/her identity on the system it is being intended to be connected from.
Deleting saved credential is not good for your browser as well as your overall system.
A cybercriminal can easily reset your important IDs and profiles on almost every website you visit. They can do this from anywhere at any time.
Once they get your IDs and passwords, they can operate them from any system of their choice.
Permission to Browser History
The browsing history of a browser is sort of a map or a tracing mechanism of what you do and which sites you visit.
It does not only tell what sites you visited but also for how long and when too.
If a criminal wish to obtain your credentials from the sites you access, he/she can easily do it, knowing which sites you accessed through the browsing history.
Cookies that consist of stored local files and which determines the link to certain files are another common browser security threat.
Similar to the browsing history, it can also trace what site you visit and obtain the credentials.
Browser Cache
The browser cache consists of storing sections of website pages which makes accessing and loading of the sites easier and quick, every time you visit.
Such can also identify which site or portal you have accessed and what content you have gone through. It also saves your location and device discovery, making it a risky element as anyone can locate you and your device.
Autofill Information
Autofill information can be of a great threat to your browser. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox store your address information, your profiles at times and other personal information.
But are you prepared if it falls in the wrong hands? No right? Well, now the criminal is aware and informed about all your personal details.

  • Tips and Recommendations on How You Can Protect Yourself from These Threats

1. Saved Login Credentials
It is recommended not to save the credentials in the browser. Instead, use password managers like Password Safe and KeePass to store credentials.
Password managers operate through a central master password and help you save your website passwords securely.
You can also customize the manager to access a saved login or URL as per your convenience and security reasons.
2. Removable Browsing History
Deleting the browser cache is a way to remove risky information especially when engaged in confidential activities like online banking. This step can be performed manually in a browser or set to automatic like when closing the browser.
Another way to remain protected from this threat is using incognito mode or private browsing as there is no harvestable saved.
Note: In case of using a public system, make sure that you are operating with incognito mode.
3. Disable Cookies
The best solution for cookies threat is to disable them when using a browser.
However, it’s not exceptional as many websites rely on cookies and thus, get limited access to its functionality, once turned off.
Disabling cookies might also result in nagging prompts. Getting rid of cookies on a periodic basis can help you protect your browser beware of repetition of information by websites as a side-effect of it.
4. Reduce Browser Cache by using Incognito Mode
Protection from such threats can be achieved from incognito browsing as well as by manually clear the cache as per the requirement, especially, after a sensitive browser search.
5. Look for Standard Java Configuration
Java is a widely used language for running Windows and other operating system related codes. It is designed in such a way that the applets within it run in a separate “sandbox” environment which helps to prevent them from other application and operating system component access.
But many-a-times, these vulnerabilities allow the applets to escape the sandbox environment and cause threat.
To avoid threats related to Java, look and choose for a standard Java security configuration that works best for your browser as well as your PC and deploys these configurations through a master source such as Group Policy.
6. No Single Point of Management
Centralized controls are recommended. One should always depend on the single point of management.
This is on the grounds that you ought to dependably depend on a solitary purpose of the executives for the aggregate settings you need to build up in your association.
You likewise should have the capacity to screen these controls to guarantee they stay set up. An organization with a variety of frameworks with higgledy-piggledy internet browser settings is certifiably not a safe association.
Dynamic Directory Group Policies can be utilized for some such settings and there are outsider choices accessible also.
You would prefer not to enable clients to kill essential settings for comfort (or more regrettable), nor would you like to need to convey guidelines for them for setting different alternatives – you’ll never get to 100% consistency and you’re staking your association’s security on the respect framework, in a manner of speaking.
7. Third-Party Plugins or Extensions
Browsers often have third-party plugins or extensions introduced for different tasks, for example, JavaScript or Flash for showing or working with substance.
These two are from known quality merchants, yet there are different modules and augmentations out there from less legitimate sources and may not, in any case, offer business-related usefulness.
For such type of threats, it is recommended to allow only business-related plugins and extensions as a major aspect of an official business approach, for example, for Internet and Email Usage.
Contingent upon the browser(s) being used in your association, explore approaches to square undesired plugins or whitelist fitting plugins, so just these can be introduced.
Guarantee modules are arranged to auto-refresh or send new forms by means of concentrated components, (for example, Active Directory Group Policy or System Centre Configuration Manager).
8. Ads Popping up and Redirects
Pop-up ads are a known malevolent one which can be particularly confounding and hard to work with.

They regularly present false notices, for example, asserting your PC has an infection and encouraging you to introduce their antivirus item to evacuate it. Normally, malware is the thing that really winds up introduced. These pop-ups are dubious to close because frequently there is no “X” catch to do as such.
The best alternative is to close the program altogether or utilize the Task Manager in Windows/the execute direction in Linux to close the application.
Try not to come back to the site being referred to which set off the advertisement and run an enemy of malware sweep to decide if your framework is perfect since popup promotions can frequently be generated by malware.
Web programs are totally essential for pretty much every business. Therefore, it’s critical that IT security stars and entrepreneurs find a way to guarantee that they make a move to hinder any conceivable security openings.
This incorporates deliberately investigating and choosing a safe web browser. The security issues recorded here are generally normal. Perceiving these dangers and making a move against them is vital.

Also Read: Web Application Security Testing: Presenting the Perfect Methodology!

How To Do Security Testing: Best Practices

The industry of software has a huge reputation and presence in almost every sector.
Most businesses utilize IT solutions and web-based systems to manage and maintain their business. The banking, payments, stock, purchasing and selling, and many other activities are conducted digitally these days.
The rise of digital business has made security testing extremely important. This article will show you the major steps to perform security testing.
1. Test The Accessibility
Access security should be your first priority to ensure the safety of your business and your customers.
Accessibility includes authentication and authorization. You decide who will get the accessibility and how much accessibility is allowed to an authenticated person.
This helps in ensuring that your data stays safe from internal and external breaches.
To conduct the accessibility test, you are required to test the roles and responsibilities of people in your company.
Hire a tester who is qualified for the job. He or she will generate multiple user accounts, including different roles.
security testing those generated accounts will help in ensuring the security level in terms of accessibility.
The same test can also include password quality, default login capacities, captcha test, and other password and login related tests.
2. Test The Protection Level of Data
The security of your data depends on:

  • Data visibility and usability
  • Data storage

While data visibility is about how much data is visible to users, the data storage involves the security of your database.
Proper security testing measures are required to ensure the effectiveness of data storage. However, you have to test first to check the vulnerabilities.
A professional tester can test the database for all kinds of critical data such as user account, passwords, billing and others.
It is important that the database stores all the important data. The transmission of data should be encrypted as well. The qualified tester also checks the ease of decryption of the encrypted data.
3. Test For Malicious Script
Hackers utilize XSS and SQL injection to hack a website. A malicious script is injected into the system of a site, which allows the hacker to control or manipulate the hacked website.
A tester can ensure the safety of your site against these practices.
The tester can check the maximum lengths allowed for the input fields. This restriction doesn’t allow a hacker to include these malicious scripts.
4. Test The Access Points
In today’s market, collaboration is the way of doing business. Many businesses collaborate on a digital level by providing services in a collaborative way.

Also Read : How to Test a Bank ERP System

For instance, a stock trading app has to provide consistent access to the latest data to the users and new visitors as well. But this open access also presents the risk of unwanted breach.
To immune from such attacks, a tester can check the entry points of the app.
The professional tester evaluates and ensures that all the access requests come from reliable IPs or application.
If not, the app system should have the capacity to reject those requests.
5. Test The Session Management
Session on the web includes the response transactions between your web server and the browser utilized by a user.
Testing the session management involves multiple actions such as expiry time of the session after a certain idle period, maximum lifetime of termination, session end time after a user logs out and others.
6. Test The Error Handling
Testing the error codes is important too. This includes the errors of 408, 400, 404, and others.
The tester can perform directed actions to reach such pages and ensure that the presented page doesn’t contain any critical data or information.
This helps in ensuring that all the data presented on error pages are safe and can’t help the hackers.
This test also includes the checkup of the stack traces, which can help the potential hackers to breach.
7. Test For Other Functionalities
Other functionalities that require testing are the file uploads and payments. These functions require thorough testing.
app testing
Any malicious file should be restricted. Also, the tester should check the vulnerabilities associated with the payments such as buffer overflows, insecure storage, password guessing, and other issues.
Apart from the mentioned tests, a professional tester can recommend others, according to the business model you have.
Conducting the tests in the mentioned way will help you ensure a comprehensive security of your digital presence.

Top 15 Open Source Security Testing Tools For 2021

open-source security testing tools help to identify the security lapse in your web applications.  They unravel the loose ends of your web app that’s easily traceable and helps you sealing it off for a long time.

Its primary function is to perform the functional testing of an application and find the vulnerabilities that could lead the data leak or hacking, without accessing the source code.

There are a number of paid and free web application testing tools available in the market. Here, we will discuss the top 15 open-source security testing tools for web applications.

1. Wapiti


Wapiti is one of the efficient web application security testing tools that allow you to assess the security of your web applications. It performs ‘black box testing,’ to check the web applications for possible vulnerability.

During the testing process, it scans the web pages and injects the testing data to check for the security lapse. Supporting the GET and POST HTTP attacks, Wapiti identifies various types of vulnerabilities, such as:


  • File disclosure
  • Database Injection
  • XSS injection
  • Command Execution detection
  • CRLF Injection
  • XXE injection
  • Potentially dangerous files
  • Weak .htaccess configurations that are easy to bypass
  • Backup files giving disclose

Wapiti is a command-line application that is hard for beginners but easy for experts. The software requires complete knowledge of commands.

2. Zed Attack Proxy

open source security testing tools

Popularly known as ZAP, the Zed Attack Proxy is an open-source, developed by OWASP. Supported by Windows, Unix/Linux, and Mac OS, ZAP enables you to find a variety of security vulnerabilities in web apps, even during the development and testing phase. This testing tool is easy to use, even if you are a beginner in penetration testing.


  • Automatic Scanner
  • Authentication support
  • AJAX spiders
  • Dynamic SSL certificates
  • Forced Browsing
  • Intercepting Proxy
  • Web Socket Support
  • Plug-n-hack support
  • REST-based API and much more.

3. Vega
open source security testing tools

Vega is a free open-source web application testing tool. Written in JAVA, Vega comes with a GUI interface. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. It helps you:


  • Find SQL injection
  • Validate SQL injection
  • File inclusions
  • Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Improve the security of TLS servers

The tool also allows you to set preferences such as maximum and minimum requests per second, the number of path descendants and number of nodes, etc.

Once supplied with proper credentials, you can use Vega as an automated scanner, for intercepting proxy and run it as a proxy scanner.

4. W3af

open source security testing tools

W3af is a popular web application security testing framework. Developed using Python, it offers an efficient web application penetration testing platform.

This tool can be used to detect more than 200 types of security issues in web applications, including SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting. It checks for the following vulnerabilities in the web-apps:


  • Blind SQL injection vulnerability
  • Buffer overflow vulnerability
  • Multiple CORS misconfigurations
  • Insecure DAV configurations
  • CSRF vulnerability and much more

Available in both GUI and console interface, W3af is easy to understand. It also allows you to authenticate the website through the authentication modules.

5. Skipfish

Skipfish is a web application security testing tool that crawls the website recursively and checks each page for possible vulnerability and prepares the audit report in the end. Written in C language, Skipfish is optimized for HTTP handling and leaving minimum CPU footprints.

The software claims to handle 2K requests per second, without displaying CPU footprints. Also, the tool claims to provide high-quality positives as it uses a heuristics approach during crawling and testing web apps.

Also Read : What is Automation Testing? Techniques, Best Practices, Tools,advantages

The Skipfish security testing tool for web apps is available for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows.

6. Ratproxy

Ratproxy is another opensource web application security testing tool that can be used to find any lapse in web applications, thereby making the app secure from any possible hacking attack. This semi-automatic testing software is supported by Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS X, and Windows (Cygwin) systems.

Ratproxy is optimized to overcome security audit issues that are repeatedly faced by users in other proxy systems. This testing tool easily distinguishes between CSS stylesheets and JavaScript codes.

7. SQLMap


SQLMap is a popular open source web application security testing tool that automates the process of detecting and utilizing SQL injection vulnerability in a database of the website. Packed with a variety of features, it has a powerful testing engine that enables the test to penetrate effortlessly and perform SQL injection check on a web application.

SQLMap supports a large number of database services, including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server etc. Furthermore, the testing tool supports six types of SQL injection methods.

8. Wfuzz

open source security testing tools

Wfuzz is another open-source tool for a web application security testing tool that is freely available on the market. Developed in Python, this testing tool is used for brute-forcing web applications. Some of the features of Wfuzz are:


  • Multiple Injection points
  • Output to HTML
  • Cookies fuzzing
  • Multi-threading
  • Proxy support
  • SOCK support
  • Authentication support
  • All parameters brute-forcing (POST and GET)
  • Baseline request (to filter results against)
  • Brute force HTTP methods
  • Multiple proxy support
  • HEAD scan
  • Post, headers, and authentication data brute forcing

While using WFuzz, you will have to work on the command line interface as there is no GUI interface available.

9. Grendel-Scan

Grendel-Scan is a useful open source web application security tool, designed for finding security lapse in the web apps. Available for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh, the tool is developed in Java.

It comes with an automated testing module that is used for detecting vulnerabilities in web applications. Besides, the software also includes many features, especially for manual penetration testing.

open source security testing tools

10. Arachni

Arachni is an open-source web application security testing tool designed to help penetration testers and administrators assess the security of web applications. This tool is developed to identify security lapse in web applications and make it hacker-proof. Arachni can detect:


  • SQL Injection
  • XSS
  • Local File Inclusion
  • Remote file inclusion
  • Invalidated redirect, and many others

Arachni supports all the main operating systems, such as MS Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

11. Grabber

open source security testing tools

Grabber is an open source web application scanner that detects security vulnerabilities in web apps. It is portable and designed to scan small web applications such as forums and personal websites. It can identify the following issues:


  • Cross-Site Scripting
  • SQL Injection
  • File Inclusion
  • Backup files verification
  • Simple AJAX verification
  • Hybrid analysis testing for PHP application using PHP-SAT
  • Generation of a file for stats analysis

Grabber is a small testing tool and takes more time to scan large apps. Moreover, since it was designed for personal usage, the scanner does not have any GUI interface and no feature for PDF report generation. Grabber was developed in Python. One can easily find the source code and modify it as per the requirement.

12. Acunetix
open source security testing tools
A complete automation penetration testing tools for your application that can scan your websites for 4500+ vulnerabilities. The most astounding feature of Acunetix is that it can crawl thousands of pages without any sort of interruptions.

  • Can easily generate any kind of technical and compliance reports
  • Scans both open-source as well as custom-built applications
  • Deep scan technology for effective scanning
  • Most advanced SQLi and cross-site scripting testing
  • Effective login sequence recorder
  • Acusensor technology that enhances regular dynamic scan
  • Built-in vulnerability management module

13. Netsparker
open source security testing tools
one of the most accurate scanner out there in the market. Owing to its ability to identify deadly vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, Cross-site scripting, etc.

  • Ability to scan any web-related app
  • Coverage for more than 1000 vulnerabilities
  • You can also check for coding related errors
  • Ability to generate regulatory compliance and web application

14. Metasploit
open source security testing tools
One of the most widely used penetration testing framework. Metasploit is an open-source testing platform that helps security testers to do much more than that of vulnerability assessment.

  • The framework is much more advanced than that of competitors
  • More than 1500 exploits
  • Meta modules for discrete tasks such as network segmentation testing
  • Can be used for the automation of many processes
  • Many infiltration scenarios mockup features

15. Burp Suite

Even though Burp Suite charges money for their services. They have been put to use owing to many advanced features such as,

  • Cutting edge web-app crawler
  • Coverage for more than 100 vulnerabilities
  • Can be used for interactive Application Security Testing (IAST)
  • JavaScript analysis using static and dynamic techniques detection of vulnerabilities within client-side javascript
  • Out-of-band techniques for augmenting conventional scanning methods

We believe that this open-source security testing tool is cardinal when it comes to assessment of software security.  We have also created a pictorial representation (infographic) so that you can get an idea easily


Also Read: Selenium 4: New Features and Updates

How to Do Security Testing For Web Applications

Just like testing the performance of an application, it is also important to perform web application security testing for real users.  Security testing is performed to detect vulnerabilities in an application while ensuring that the data is protected and that the application works as required.
Why Web Application Security Testing?
Among the different kinds of applications, web applications demand more security as they involve large amounts of important data and online transactions. The web apps must be tested to ensure that they are not vulnerable to any cyber-attacks.
In order to perform web application security testing, the tester must be well versed in the HTTP protocol. He/she should have a clear understanding of how the client (browser) and server communicate using HTTP.
The tester is also expected to know at least the basics of SQL injection and XSS. Though the number of defects regarding the security of web apps is comparatively low, the tester must take note of each defect detected, in detail.
While performing security testing, here’s the list of vulnerabilities a tester must keep a check on:

Password cracking
The most common way of a cyber attacker to gain access to a web app is by cracking the password. They may try to guess the password or use a password cracking tool to conduct the same. Therefore, the security tester must ensure that the app demands a strong password that must be encrypted.
URL manipulation
It’s easy to edit the URL in a browser. Lack of security can cause the users to be redirected and confidential data being leaked. Therefore, it is important for the security tester to check if the application passes vital data through its URL string. The web app becomes vulnerable to URL manipulation mainly when the app uses the HTTP GET method to pass information between the server and the client, which is usually passed in parameters in the query string. A security tester can just change a parameter value to see if the server accepts it.
SQL injection
Sometimes, a hacker may feed in illegal SQL statements to a text entry field so as to get access to web app content. If not security tested, the hackers may make use of this vulnerability to add, change or erase the data from the SQL-based database of the web app. While security tested, is even a single quote entered into the text field is rejected by the application, we can make sure that the app is safe. However, if the tester enters a quote and the app accepts it, but, shows a database error, the web app is vulnerable to SQL injection.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
It is important to make sure that the web app is not prone to cross-site scripting because if the attacker enters harmful script into your web app, you may end up unknowingly helping them to deliver the script to the people online.  Therefore, the tester must ensure that the application rejects any malicious data and if at all it accepts the data, it must not affect the backed.
It is always best to test the app as a whole from a hacker’s point of view. Think of the different technologies used in the making of the app, different levels of access that users have to go through to log in and how the data can be obtained or stored. This will help you to recognize prospective weak points and see if they are vulnerable to common types of cyber-attack.
Also, think of the different methods and scenarios a hacker will try to crack into the app. Do not ignore any points as the hacker may get in through the least expected path.
Steps of Security Testing
Now, talking about the steps to perform security testing, it differs from different organizations. However, the basic process remains the same.

  • Understand what the business is about and its security goals.  This helps to plan the test by considering all security needs of the organization while not going overboard
  • Understand and identify the security needs of the application
  • Gather all information regarding system setup information that was used for developing the web app and network such as the OS, technology, hardware, etc.
  • Identify the possible vulnerabilities and risks and make a list
  • Prepare a threat profile based on the list
  • Prepare test plan according to the identified possible vulnerabilities and risks
  • Prepare Traceability Matrix for each risk and vulnerability
  • Manual security testing can’t always be accurate and therefore, automated testing is also required. Make a list of the tools to be used for the same
  • Make the Security tests case document ready
  • Carry out the Security Test cases execution and once the identified defects have been fixed, retest
  • Execute the Regression Test cases
  • Create a detailed report on the security testing conducted, the vulnerabilities and risks identify and the risks that still persist.

Tools used For Web Application Security Testing

  1. Apache Jmeter
  2. Browser-stack
  3. Load UI Pro
  4. Ghostlab
  5. Sauce Labs
  6. JIRA
  7. Soap UI
  8. Test IO
  9. Acunetix
  10. Ranorex Webtestit
  11. Netsparker
  12. Experitest
  13. TestComplete
  14. LambdaTest
  15. Selenium
  16. Testcraft
  17. Watin
  18. Sahi
  19. HP UFT
  20. Testpad

With many advancements happening in this era of digitalization, we need to give considerable focus on filling gaps of vulnerability, minimizing hacker risks, and thereby securing our digital assets, in this case, web applications.