Penetration Testing SaaS Applications: How to Get Started?

If you are responsible for the security of a SaaS application, then you need to be aware of the potential risks and how to get started with penetration testing. We’ll discuss how penetration testing works on SaaS applications and what you should look for in a pentest solution. We will also introduce five stages of a typical SaaS pentest and provide some tips on choosing the right tools.

SaaS security risks:

When it comes to SaaS applications, there are several potential security risks that you need to be aware of.

  • One of the biggest dangers is that your data is stored in the cloud and could be accessed by unauthorised users.
  • Additionally, many SaaS applications are vulnerable to attack because they are not well-protected against SQL injection and other common exploits.
  • And finally, since SaaS applications are often used for business purposes, they can be a target for cybercriminals looking to steal sensitive information or sabotage critical systems.

SaaS penetration testing:

If you want to assess the security of your SaaS application, you need to start by finding the security flaws in it. Penetration testing does exactly that in its own way. It involves simulating attacks to find out which attack was successful, hence revealing what attacks your application is prone to.

This can be done using the best penetration testing tools and techniques to expose the weaknesses in the software or infrastructure.

How does penetration testing work on SaaS applications?

The process for conducting a pentest varies depending on what type of application you have, but there are some general steps that should be followed regardless:

  • Identify potential vulnerabilities by analysing source code and reviewing configuration settings.
  • Scan servers and use port scanners to look for open ports which may allow unauthorised access into your system.
  • Attempt to exploit known flaws using automated tools such as Metasploit Pro or Nessus Professional Vulnerability Scanner (Nessus). These programs will run through all possible attack vectors so that the tester can determine if any exist within the network environment.
  • Use manual techniques such as social engineering and phishing to try and gain access to user accounts or sensitive data.

The five stages of a typical SaaS pentest:

Once you have identified the potential vulnerabilities in your application, you need to start planning the pentest. This will involve following these five stages:

  1. Reconnaissance: gather information about the target organisation and identify which systems should be tested;
  2. Scanning: use port scans and other tools to map out the network and identify potential targets;
  3. Exploitation: attempt to exploit known vulnerabilities using automated or manual methods;
  4. Reporting: document findings from the assessment and provide recommendations for fixing any security issues discovered;
  5. Remediation: work with the organisation’s IT team to implement recommended changes.

What should it include?

A typical SaaS penetration testing solution will include the following components:

  • checking for open ports and vulnerabilities
  • scanning for sensitive data and user accounts
  • gaining access to the target systems through social engineering or phishing
  • reviewing configuration settings and source code
  • reviewing passwords and authorisation processes
  • identifying potential vulnerabilities in software and/or infrastructure
  • reporting findings from the assessment
  • providing recommendations for fixing any security issues discovered
  • working with the organisation’s IT team to implement recommended changes

Tools for SaaS penetration testing:

There are a number of different tools that can be used for conducting a pentest on a SaaS application. Here are four examples:

  1. Astra Pentest: This is a tool designed specifically for pentesting cloud applications, websites and networks. It can be used to scan for vulnerabilities, exploit potential flaws, and generate reports on findings. Astra Security backs you up with whatever support you need 24/7. They also perform manual penetration testing and security audits.
  2. BreachLock: Another tool that specialises in cloud security assessments, BreachLock can be used to identify sensitive data in the cloud and test how well your systems protect against unauthorised access.
  3. CloudLock: CloudLock is a platform that provides security for SaaS applications and helps organisations protect their data from theft, loss, and unauthorised access.
  4. CipherCloud: This is a cloud security company that provides encryption and tokenization services for protecting sensitive data in the cloud.

What to look for in a SaaS pentest solution?

When looking for a provider of SaaS penetration testing solutions, you should consider the following factors:

Experience with assessing cloud-based applications: The provider should have experience assessing the security of different types of SaaS applications, including enterprise-level applications.

Technical expertise: The tester should be skilled in using automated tools like Metasploit and Nessus as well as manual techniques like social engineering and phishing.

Methodology: The provider should use a structured methodology for pentesting that is tailored to the specific needs of SaaS applications.

Reporting: The tester should provide comprehensive reports detailing their findings and recommendations for fixing any security issues discovered.


The cloud has made it easier than ever for organisations to deploy and access applications from anywhere in the world, but this also introduces new security risks that need to be addressed. Penetration testing is one way of assessing these risks and identifying potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

There are a number of different tools and techniques that can be used during a pentest, so it’s important to choose a provider with the experience and expertise needed to assess the security of your SaaS applications.

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