A Case Study on Bypass Testing of Web Applications

Springerís Empirical Software Engineering, 19(1):69-104, 2014, DOI: 10.1007/s10270-009-0125-4.

Jeff Offutt, Vasileios Papadimitriou, and Upsorn Praphamontripong


Society's increasing reliance on services provided by web applications places a high demand on their reliability. The flow of control through web applications heavily depends on user inputs and interactions, so user inputs should be thoroughly validated before being passed to the back-end software. Although several techniques are used to validate inputs on the client, users can easily bypass this validation and submit arbitrary data to the server. This can cause unexpected behavior, and even allow unauthorized access. A test technique called bypass testing intentionally sends invalid data to the server by bypassing client-side validation. This paper reports results from a comprehensive case study on 16 deployed, widely used, commercial web applications. As part of this project, the theory behind bypass testing was extended and an automated tool, AutoBypass, was built. The case study found failures in 14 of the 16 web applications tested, some significant. This study gives evidence that bypass testing is effective, has positive return on investment, and scales to real applications.

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