An Overview of OWASP ZAP
It is an open-source penetration testing instrument helping AppSec professionals in making accurate identification of known and unknown cyber menaces. It is mainly used for web applications and comes with a wide spectrum of capabilities so that assorted cyber threats are identified quickly. These incorporate:
- Executing passive scanning of web requests
- Taking the help of a dictionary list so that server-side files and folders are scanned
- Deploying evolved crawler so that site’s structure is understood well and all the doubtful links/URLs are successfully retrieved
- Taking full control over the web requests exchanged between web apps and browsers
With these abilities, the OWASP ZAP tool is the right resource for recognizing some of the most pernicious web attacks, such as XSS, compromised authentication, SQL injection, sensitive data exposure, and so on.
How Does ZAP Work?
The main function of ZAP is to monitor and scan all the web requests that servers and browsers are exchanging. It intercepts, analyzes, and scans all these web requests so that malicious elements are easily spotted and controlled at an early stage.
Very similar to how proxies work, ZAP sits as an intermediary for the concerned application and the testing tool, which implies that it receives all we request beforehand. But, unlike a traditional proxy that changes the IP address, it inspects web requests.
Key Concepts and Features of the Scanner
Before one plans to download OWASP ZAP, we strongly recommend getting familiar with the key concepts and features that this tool proffers. Below-mentioned pointers will help one to understand them in a better way.
- Active and Passive Scan OWASP
ZAP performs these 2 types of scans continuously for quick vulnerability detection.
Active: This scan uses a predefined list of threats and scans the web requests based on the traits of those assured loopholes/vulnerabilities. While this is a fair scanning methodology, it misses the application logic-related risk.
Passive: ZAP performs this very basic scan by automatically scanning HTTPS requests for primary threats. No changes can be made to the requests.
To conduct security testing at a large scale, it comes with an advanced OWASP ZAP Fuzzer that performs fuzzing on huge data inputs. It allows security professionals to use in-built payloads and even construct customized ones.
For improved API testing, ZAP offers an advanced OWASP ZAP API feature that works well with leading API types such as HTML, XML, and JSON. By default, the tool only accepts the machine/system running ZAP. But, using the OWASP ZAP config file, security professionals can easily permit any of the APIs to connect.
ZAP is capable of performing extensive WebSocket testing, and it automatically analyzes and intercepts the WebSocket traffic that servers and clients are exchanging.
ZAP, as a security tool, can execute the JAX Spidering testing for AJAX-based web app requests that are not identified using any of the customary spidering software.
Along with identifying the AJAX request, ZAP also has multiple capabilities like crawl states, max. depth to be crawled, the highest duration, and so on.
Using ZAP, organizations can construct a viable policy for cybersecurity scanning that aligns best with the security goals. The Scan Policy Manager tool is highly customized as well. Pentesters can optimize the tool to aim at specific applications and include distinct scanning parameters as well.
In the scan policy, organizations can define which test should be performed on which all apps/entities. For this, OWASP ZAP permits configuring parameters like Strength, Threshold, etc. The policy that ZAP allows organizations to contrive can be easily exported like a template, which makes it more viable and reusable.
OWASP ZAP offers it to cater to all sorts of web and API security needs. This digital product repository provides an impressive number of open-source plugins and add-ons.
All these add-ons are developed by the skilled ZAP team. Hence, they all are worthy of your attention. Search through this marketplace and select the add-on of your choice.
Installing and configuring the OWASP ZAP
OWASP ZAP is a great tool to use if we talk about its efficacy as a penetration testing tool. Hence, having it in your security kit is always a great thing. The steps are as under:
- Step - Get the tool
Priority to anything, ensure that you meet the basic requirements for ZAP before.
OWASP ZAP is compatible with Linux, Windows, macOS, and Docker. It needs Java 8+ for all the OS except for Docker. The Docker ZAP tool works fine without Java/JVM.
To download OWASP ZAP, visit the official site and select the installer you want to use.
Upon a successful download, you need to confirm if you wish to continue.
If you do, the season is recorded on the HSQLDB database disk and is given a predefined name. If discontinued, the file with temporary session data will be auto-deleted once you exit from the ZAP tool.
If the ZAP session continues, the session data is auto-saved in the local DB, and you can define its location and names. For a better knowledge of security flaws and deeper insights into penetration testing, experts recommend saving session files for future reference.
- Step - Know the UI components
The tool’s components include:
- Menu Bar helps at accessing pre-built automated and manual tools.
- The Information Window shows information related to automated as well as manual ZAP tools.
- The Tree-Window component displays the Sites & Scripts tree.
- The Toolbar gives you access to several key ZAP features.
- Workspace Window-desktop UI lets you keep a check upon requests, scripts, and responses for smooth editing.
- The Footer provides a quick “Alerts’ Summary” and current conditions of key tools.
- Step - Use the ‘Quick Start’ feature
To speed up the scanning, ZAP provides a Quick Start as an add-on feature. Here is how you can use this feature.
Open the ZAP tool, access Workspace Window, and click on Quick Start. Here, you will see Automated Scan as an option. Click on it.
Next, select the URL to attack option. Enter the complete URL of the concerned web app in this text box and then select ‘Attack’.
- Step - Gather the data
Clicking the ‘Attack’ button (in Step 3) will start web app scanning using the spider. With active scanning, ZAP will scan all the pages, functionalities, and parameters of the concerned applications. You can use this data to learn about the vulnerabilities.
Application Security and APIs With Wallarm
OWASP ZAP is doing a great job. But, it has some caveats, and extensive application security demands more than what ZAP is offering. This is where Wallarm comes into action.
This leading API security platform offers inventive API security and WAAP solutions that work with all the leading APIs and in all the cloud infrastructure. Wallarm’s tools are capable of performing real-time scanning, intercepting, and identifying multiple threats like OWASP Top 10, account takeover, API abuse, and so on. Grab it today and take your default API security defense to a top-notch level.