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Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS) is a cloud-based service designed to identify, assess, and mitigate vulnerabilities within web applications and APIs. It offers comprehensive scanning capabilities, including automated crawling and testing for a wide range of security threats, making it an essential tool for organizations aiming to protect their web assets from cybersecurity risks.


Section 1

Installation & Setup

Qualys Web Application Scanning (WAS) is a cloud-based service, eliminating the need for traditional installation processes associated with on-premises software. This section will guide you through the initial steps to access and set up Qualys WAS for your web application security testing needs.

Since Qualys WAS is a cloud-based solution, there is no software to install on your local machine. Start by signing up for an account on the Qualys website. After registration, you will receive login credentials to access the Qualys platform. Log in to your Qualys account, and navigate to the Web Application Scanning module from the dashboard.

There’s no physical installation required, but you will need to set up your web applications within the Qualys platform for scanning. This involves creating a new web application profile where you’ll specify details such as the application’s URL, scope of the scan, and other relevant information.

After logging into Qualys WAS, begin by configuring your scan settings. Create your web application profiles by entering details like the application name, URL, and setting up the scanning parameters based on your security requirements and the nature of your web application.

Configure authentication records if your web application requires login credentials to access certain areas. This ensures that Qualys WAS can perform authenticated scans, providing a more comprehensive vulnerability assessment. You can also set up notification rules to receive alerts based on scan results or specific findings.

New users may encounter issues such as difficulties in configuring scan settings or authentication errors during authenticated scans. Ensure that all URLs and parameters are correctly entered and that the scope of the scan is correctly defined to avoid scanning unauthorised areas.

For authentication issues, double-check the accuracy of the login credentials and the authentication setup in Qualys WAS. Make sure that Qualys has access to all necessary resources and that CAPTCHAs or two-factor authentication systems do not block it. Consult Qualys support and documentation for specific troubleshooting guidance.

Section 2

Features and Capabilities

Qualys WAS offers a comprehensive set of features designed for efficient and effective web application vulnerability scanning. This section explores the tool’s capabilities and how they can be leveraged to enhance your web application security.

Qualys WAS provides automated crawling and testing of web applications to identify vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and outdated software libraries. It features progressive scanning capabilities that allow it to understand complex web applications, including those using JavaScript and AJAX frameworks.

The tool also supports authenticated scanning, enabling it to evaluate areas of your application that require login credentials. It offers detailed reporting tools that categorize vulnerabilities by severity, helping prioritize remediation efforts.

Qualys WAS is used by organizations to secure their web applications across different stages of the development lifecycle. It is particularly useful in continuous monitoring and compliance efforts, helping businesses stay compliant with regulations like PCI DSS and GDPR.

Security teams utilize Qualys WAS to perform regular security assessments, identify and remediate vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them, and ensure the overall security of their web applications. It’s also used in DevSecOps environments to integrate security into the software development process seamlessly.

While Qualys WAS is a powerful scanning tool, it has limitations, such as the potential for false positives and negatives, common to automated scanning solutions. Its effectiveness can be influenced by the complexity of the web application and the configuration of the scan settings.

Additionally, there may be limitations in scanning highly dynamic web applications or those heavily reliant on client-side logic. The cloud-based nature of the tool also means scan performances can be affected by network bandwidth and latency.

Section 3

Advanced Usage and Techniques

Maximizing the effectiveness of Qualys WAS involves leveraging its advanced features and adopting best practices in web application security testing.

Qualys WAS offers advanced scanning options such as sequential crawling, which can handle complex navigation sequences, and manual testing tools that allow for the creation of custom tests for specific vulnerabilities or logic flaws.

The service integrates seamlessly with Qualys’ suite of security and compliance tools, providing a holistic view of organizational security posture. Advanced users can utilize the API for integrating scanning and reporting capabilities into custom applications and existing workflows.

Regularly update your web application profiles in Qualys WAS to reflect changes in your web applications and their environments. Utilize the tool’s scheduling feature to conduct regular, automated scans, ensuring continuous security monitoring.

Review and validate scan results to prioritize and address vulnerabilities effectively. Incorporate findings into your security training programs to educate developers and prevent similar vulnerabilities in the future.

Integrate Qualys WAS with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines to automate security testing as part of your software development process. Utilize Qualys’ APIs to connect with issue tracking systems, facilitating efficient tracking and remediation of vulnerabilities.

Leverage integration with other Qualys tools for a comprehensive security strategy, allowing for correlated analysis of vulnerabilities across web applications, networks, and endpoints.

Section 4


Understanding common questions and clearing up misconceptions can help users effectively leverage Qualys Web Application Scanning in their security practices.

  • What is Qualys WAS? Qualys Web Application Scanning is a cloud-based service for identifying vulnerabilities in web applications.
  • Can Qualys WAS scan all types of web applications? Qualys WAS can scan a wide variety of web applications, including those with complex architectures.
  • How often should scans be conducted? Regular scans are recommended, especially after significant changes to your applications.
  • Can Qualys WAS detect zero-day vulnerabilities? While it’s effective at identifying known vulnerabilities, detecting zero-day vulnerabilities depends on the nature of the flaw and the scan configuration.
  • Is Qualys WAS suitable for small businesses? Yes, Qualys WAS is scalable and can be used by businesses of all sizes.

  • Misconception: Qualys WAS can automatically fix vulnerabilities. Reality: Qualys WAS identifies vulnerabilities; remediation requires manual intervention.
  • Misconception: Qualys WAS only performs surface-level scans. Reality: Qualys WAS can perform deep, authenticated scans, depending on configuration.
  • Misconception: Automated scans replace the need for manual testing. Reality: While automated scans are crucial, manual testing is also necessary for comprehensive security.
  • Misconception: Qualys WAS is too complex for non-technical users. Reality: Qualys WAS is designed to be user-friendly, with resources available for users of all technical levels.
  • Misconception: Qualys WAS provides instant security. Reality: Qualys WAS is a component of a broader web application security strategy.