Since web applications offer data access to customers, employees, and other key groups, they have become a weak link for many organizations. If a hacker gains access, they often have direct access to confidential data, meaning that web application security testing should be a high priority to businesses today. Complete testing of a web-based system before going live can help address issues before the system is revealed to the public.An essential element of testing web application security is understanding the data moving between the browser and the server. That is where Burp Suite comes in. This tool allows penetration testers and security analysts to ensure everything is behaving properly using a combination of manual testing and automation to ensure full visibility.

What is Burp Suite?

Burp Suite is a platform for performing penetration testing of web applications. With a suite of tools working together seamlessly, you are able to perform full-range security testing, from the initial mapping to the analysis of an application’s attack surface and vulnerabilities.This Java-based framework is often classified as an ‘Interception Proxy,’ whereas a penetration tester configures their browser to route traffic through the proxy to capture and analyze requests to and from the web application. “Individual HTTP requests can be paused, manipulated and replayed back to the web server for targeted analysis of parameter specific injection points. Injection points can be specified for manual as well as automated fuzzing attacks to discover potentially unintended application behaviors, crashes and error messages.”

Why use Burp Suite?

A choice platform among penetration testers, Burp Suite offers users full control through a combination of advanced manual techniques and automation. Described as having an intuitive interface, new users are typically able to learn quickly while experienced users have many configuration options.Different than a traditional ‘point-and-click’ scanner, Burp Suite is offered with both free and paid versions with varying capabilities. Still, many users enjoy a wide range of tools, even within the free version.

What is Burp Suite used for?

At a high level, Burp Suite can be used to:

  • Scan for vulnerabilities
  • Intercept browser traffic
  • Automate custom attacks
  • Perform manual testing using a variety of tools

According to Port Swigger Web Security, Burp Suite covers “Coverage of over 100 generic vulnerabilities, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS), with great performance against all vulnerabilities in the OWASP top 10.”The tools offered as a part of Burp Suite are:

  • HTTP Proxy
  • Scanner
  • Intruder
  • Spider
  • Repeater
  • Decoder
  • Comparer
  • Extender
  • Sequencer

What are the risks of using Burp Suite?

Keeping in mind that security professionals are not the only individuals with access to this tool, attackers have the potential to use it in order to undermine a web application’s security.“While both security pros and attackers may use Burp Suite to test a system for vulnerabilities, the methods employed will be different. Security pros may simply use Burp Suite and then proceed to manage any concerns. An attacker would need to use a whole host of other tools to exploit problems they can see through Burp Suite.”

Why should I learn Burp Suite?

Professionals from penetration testers to developers can benefit from using Burp Suite. This tool automates much of the testing process, making vulnerability visualization easier, allowing you to identify the ‘low hanging fruit,’ so to speak.A relatively simple and easy to use tool, those who are able to navigate their way around Burp will gain greater insight into vulnerabilities on their web applications, not to mention the wide functionality offered by the suite of tools.From an employer perspective, those with a handle on the expansive capabilities prove valuable to any organization. Having this knowledge is a quick resume boost for those seeking a new or better role in the industry.

How can I learn Web App Penetration Testing?

Web app penetration testing is one of many skills needed by a cybersecurity analyst. The behavioral analytics skills covered by CSA+ include identifying and combating malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs), resulting in enhanced threat visibility across a broad attack surface. Burp Suite is one tool used to heighten an analysts' visibility.Obtaining your certification as a CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst signifies that you possess the fundamental knowledge to configure and use threat detection tools such as Burp, perform data analysis, and interpret the results to identify vulnerabilities, threats and risks to an organization. In addition to holding the certification, job seekers are encouraged to work hands-on with these tools, as users of the CSA+ Virtual Lab are able to.


Olivia Lynch (@Cybrary_Olivia) is the Marketing Manager at Cybrary. Like many of you, she is just getting her toes wet in the infosec field and is working to make cyber security news more interesting. A firm believer that the pen is mightier than the sword, Olivia considers corny puns and an honest voice essential to any worthwhile blog.

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