How to Analyze Your Website Like an Ethical Hacker to Uncover Flaws

Cyber attacks on websites are rising sharply. The average number of security incidents per firm is up 13% versus previous year according to a recent Cisco report. Attackers are constantly probing sites for injection flaws, misconfigurations, default credentials and other weaknesses.

Major data breaches often result from undetected website vulnerabilities. The British Airways hack impacting 500,000 customers, the Panama Papers leak and countless other incidents originated from security gaps within internet facing systems.

So how do you identify the flaws in your website before the bad actors get to it? By taking the hacker approach of continuously analyzing sites for risks – just like security experts and pen testers do.

This comprehensive guide will teach you how to assess your website security by scanning from all angles using Detectify – an advanced vulnerability scanner trusted by leading enterprises worldwide.

Why Finding Website Vulnerabilities is Critical

It‘s foolish to leave your site security to chance in today‘s threat landscape. Consider these statistics:

  • 70% of hacked businesses don‘t recover and eventually shut down (Source: Varonis)
  • Average number of security incidents per firm went up by 13% last year (Source: Cisco 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends)
  • 97% of applications tested by Trustwave contain serious vulnerabilities (Source: Trustwave Global Security Report 2017)
  • 214 days – Average time to fix vulnerabilities once detected (Source: WhiteHat Security)

Attackers need just a single unpatched flaw like SQL injection or XXE to steal data, deface sites, plant malware and cause serious business disruption.

Recent examples of hacked sites include:

  • Easyjet – 9 million traveler records stolen including credit card details through site hack
  • Twitter – 130 VIP accounts compromised using account management panel flaws
  • Facebook – Phone numbers of ~500 Million users scrapped via abuse of site features

Such incidents often lead to customer loss, lawsuits, blackmail and huge financial consequences for affected companies.

Being hacked is no longer a matter of "if" but "when". And the longer vulnerabilities stay undetected, higher the risk of them being discovered and exploited by bad actors.

This is why continuously analyzing your website‘s security from hacker‘s lens offers huge preventive value. Ethical hacking techniques applied internally let you reveal flaws on your terms rather than after a disastrous incident!

An Overview of Detectify Security Testing Solution

Detectify is a leading website security testing platform used by top global enterprises and security consulting firms.

It runs fully automated scans on websites, APIs and mobile applications to surface vulnerabilities across entire attack surface – infrastructure, network, operating systems, business logic flows and more.

Detectify overview infographic

Some key capabilities offered by Detectify include:

  • 500+ vulnerability checks – Covers full range of OWASP Top 10 issues, zero days threats, misconfigurations etc.

  • Intelligent discovery – Maps all resources through recursive crawling. Optimizes using technology fingerprint.

  • Continuous updates – Research team enhances checks mapped to emerging real-world threats daily.

  • API integrations – Plugins for Jira, Slack, Trello to streamline sharing and remediation.

  • Compliance reporting – Detailed policy framework mapping like PCI DSS helps drive fixes.

  • Retesting automation – Follow-up scans to validate security improvements through fixes.

  • Accessible and mobile ready – Flexible user agents simulate visits from various devices.

In short, Detectify provides on-demand and around the clock scanning to reveal risks – just as an attacker would probe defenses!

It combines intelligent discovery, fingerprinting and over 500 checks tailored to latest real-world threats. The setup is quick with actionable reports to drive remediation.

OWASP Top 10 Vulnerabilities Explained

The OWASP Top 10 list represents critical web application security flaws as identified by security experts worldwide. Let‘s examine the main categories:

OWASP Category Description Example Vulnerabilities
Injection Untrusted data sent to interpreter as part of command or query SQLi, OS command injection, LDAP injection
Broken Authentication Flaws in auth mechanisms like password management, session handling Weak passwords, session fixation, JWT token flaws
Sensitive Data Exposure Failure to protect confidential data Plaintext storage, unencrypted connections
XML External Entities (XXE) XML processors support external entity references by default Billion Laughs, file retrieval via URI handlers
Broken Access Control Restrictions on what auth’d users can access are not properly enforced Metadata manipulations, privilege escalations
Security Misconfigurations Insecure default configurations, missing hardening mechanisms Verbose error handling revealing architecture details
Cross-Site Scripting XSS Untrusted inputs injected into pages dynamically served to other users Persistent and reflective XSS instances
Insecure Deserialization Serialized objects used without validity checking Remote code executions via gadget chains
Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities Libraries, frameworks and other software components with unpatched flaws Vulnerable WordPress themes, outdated ExpressJS installations
Insufficient Logging & Monitoring Not tracking key events like access failures to detect attacks Lack of request logging, authentication attempt capturing

Now that you know common website risk categories, let‘s look at how Detectify scans surface these efficiently.

How Detectify Crawls and Scans Websites

The Detectify scanning process is fully automated using the following methodology:

1. Crawl and Discover: The scan initiates by visiting the target home page and starts recursively crawling across the entire site by following links, submitting forms, checking for parameters manipulation opportunities etc. All pages, assets, data sets and technologies are discovered.

2. Fingerprint and Optimize: Next, all resources identified in the discovery phase are analyzed to determine the technologies powering the site – frameworks, libraries, platforms, server types etc. Checks are intelligently selected and optimized based on fingerprinted tech stack details.

3. Exploit Flaws: The optimized set of over 500 vulnerability checks are unleashed on all discovered items for injection flaws, misconfigurations, default settings, encryption gaps and more based on technologies identified. Each check is designed to automatically exploit weaknesses that real-world hackers employ daily!

Detailed technical breakdown of various vulnerability checks:

  • Injection Checks: Specialized engine performs millions of payloads and permutations across all inputs to uncover SQLi, Blind SQLi, NoSQLi, OS injections, LDAPi etc. without traffic or load overheads.

  • Authentication Checks: Complete sequence of steps from account registration to logout tested including password quality requirements, change options,CAPTCHA bypass, lockout settings, JWT token analysis etc. Specific User-in-the-Middle sequence verifies no session hijacking opportunities.

  • Access Control Checks: Authorization enforcement is verified by checking various trajectories – both within user role boundaries and across objects assigned to other identities. Restrictions around credential stuffing and metadata manipulations also tested.

  • Configuration Checks: Default admin interfaces, sample pages and assets, verbose error handling, outdated software versions etc. are assessed for insecure configurations prevalent in production systems. Misconfigurations related to transport layer security and headers also checked.

  • Deserialization Attack Checks: Specialized techniques involving tampered payloads, gadget chaining for subverting validators, abuse of implicit typing etc. used to detect Java deserialization and similar risks.

  • Custom Framework Checks: Common vulnerabilities in popular applications stacks like React, Angular, Vue.js and other JavaScript frameworks detected using component analysis and unmatched event sequencing.

Over 500 checks designed from 10+ years research into website flaws aim to deliver maximum coverage of both OWASP Top 10 along with emerging zero day threats.

Step-by-Step Guide to Scanning your Site with Detectify

Testing your website for the full spectrum of logic and security vulnerabilities is quick and straightforward with Detectify‘s guided setup. Follow these steps:

1. Sign Up for Detectify Trial

Go to and click on "Get Your Free Trial". Provide work email and choose a password.

Detectify Free Trial

No credit card or payment details needed! This allows complete access to features for 14 days.

You will receive a confirmation email after signing up. Click the verify link in email to activate your Detectify account.

2. Add Your Website for Scanning

Login to the Detectify portal using your credentials. The web app dashboard provides guided walkthroughs to get started.

Under Scopes & Targets, you can manually enter the website URL you intend to scan.

Add Website to Scan in Detectify

Alternatively, connect your Google Analytics account to automatically import your full list of website domains tracked. Much faster way to onboard multiple sites!

Once your target is added, you are all set to scan.

💡 Pro Tip: For login protected areas of your site, provide user credentials under Authentication section. This enables crawling and scanning of secure pages as an authenticated user!

3. Initiate An On-Demand Scan

Go to Detectify dashboard showing all your added sites. Next, to your desired target site URL, click the "Start Scan" button to trigger an on-demand scan.

Start Detectify Vulnerability Scan

This starts a comprehensive scan with the Detectify bot crawling across your site surfaces – site-wide links, documents, global search forms etc.

Information gathered is processed to fingerprint underlying technologies. Checks are automatically selected based on tech stack risks.

Crawlers dig deeper to extract business logic flows, submission forms and assets specific to various applications. Granular vulnerability tests are then unleashed!

You see the scan status traversing various stages on dashboard as checks are systematically executed across infrastructure, network, apps, languages, frameworks etc.

Detectify Scan Stages

Full scans may take 2 to 4 hours depending on site size, technologies and assets discovered. Crawl budget thresholds prevent overload.

Detailed technical breakdown of various vulnerability checks:

You can monitor scan progress directly from the Sites dashboard. No need to keep browser window open!

4. Review Your Site‘s Security Posture

On scan completion, login to Detectify dashboard to analyze high level results and download detailed reports.

Click on your target site and go to Current Scan tab. You see overview of findinds breakdown by severity types.

Detectify Scan Results Summary

  • Red – High severity gaps
  • Orange – Medium severity gaps
  • Green – Low risks

Click View Online or Export PDF buttons to see complete scan assessment.

The PDF reports provide:

  • At-a-glance dashboard with summary scan stats for management
  • Breakdown of top risks surfaced
  • Granular details on every finding along with fix guidance
  • Full request and response data for reproducibility
  • Reference links to vulnerabilities knowledge base

Sample Detectify PDF Report

Each finding has description, affected parameter/payload, severity rationale, raw traffic captures, suggested fixes etc.

Reviewers can deep dive into any finding for analysis or assign investigations to developers. Tagging allows logical grouping such as by app/feature.

Recommended approach for prioritization:

  • Resolve all high severity threats – The critical risks get addressed on top priority due to likelihood of getting exploited. Examples include SQLi, XXE and other injections, broken authentication flaws etc.

  • Investigate medium severity gaps – These could turn into stepping stones to bypass other controls, ormay impact customer experience. Password reset flaws, information disclosures are common examples.

  • Triage low severity improvements – Small configuration and cosmetic gaps with low direct impact. Inconsistencies in TLS settings, coding best practice deviations etc.

Repeat scans after addressing a subset of findings allows monitoring security trends and ROI tracking. Unfixed gaps automatically surface again for recall.

5. Integrate Scanning into Development Pipelines

While on-demand scans are great, scheduling automatic recurring scans ensures you continuously monitor site security – much like hackers do trying to break in 24/7!

Configure recurring scans:

Under Settings, choose desired frequency – daily, weekly or monthly along with timing and notification preferences. This enables walking away from constant firefighting towards more strategic initiatives secure in the knowledge that vulnerabilities come directly to your inbox.

Integration and automation further helps by:

  • Embedding security earlier rather than just pre-launch scans
  • Automating quality gates to prevent new flaws through fixes
  • Enforcing policies and compliance needs
  • Saving significant time through workflows integration

Potential ways to leverage Detectify include:

  • Trigger scans through CI/CD pipelines using Detectify API

  • Push findings automatically to Jira tickets

  • Embed security dashboards into Grafana or Kibana

  • Notify on Slack channels

  • Achieve preventive DevSecOps setup with checks at each stage

Customizing Your Scans

Detectify offers many controls via UI and APIs to customize scan scope, frequencies and parameters:

Tuning Test Coverage

  • Limit crawl scope breadth and depth
  • Exclude assets – sites, pages, file types
  • Restrict user flows – optional steps, field combinations
  • Sample a % of discovered items

Specialized Agents

  • Mobile devices, browsers and bots
  • Search engine scrapers
  • Accessibility scans for disability standards


  • Provide login credentials
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Complex identity types – SSO, social logins

Tuning Scan Performance

  • Rate limiting
  • Assets whitelist
  • Concurrent checks tuning

Recurring Scans

  • Schedule daily, weekly or monthly scans
  • Configure multiple scan profiles

In essence, you can extensively customize scan scope and schedule tailored to your specific needs.

Conclusion: Start Testing Your Sites Like Hackers Do!

To sum it up:

  • Modern web properties face continuous attacks aimed at exploiting flaws
  • Finding and plugging vulnerabilities is key to managing risk
  • Manual testing is inadequate and delayed response disastrous
  • Detectify provides on-demand and around the clock scanning
  • Scans deliver full assessment from hacker perspective automatically
  • Scanning must integrate earlier into SDLCs vs just pre-production

Sign up for Detectify‘s free trial without delays to test your web security posture.

What other methods do you rely on for proactive website vulnerability management? Share your tips in the comments below!