Unveiling the ZAP User Personas

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In our continuous effort to enhance the Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP) experience, we recently embarked on a journey to better understand our diverse user base through the ZAP User Personas Questionnaire. Today, we are excited to share the insights gleaned from the 381 members of our community who took the time to share their valuable feedback.

A Diverse User Base

The responses highlighted the wide array of professionals relying on ZAP for their security needs. Leading the pack were Cybersecurity Students, with 174 respondents identifying this as their primary role, underscoring ZAP’s significance in educational settings. Following closely were Penetration Testers or Red Team Members, with 121 responses, reflecting ZAP’s critical role in hands-on security testing.

Interestingly, we also saw significant representation from Bug Bounty Hunters and Freelance Security Consultants, with 74 and 69 responses respectively, pointing to ZAP’s utility in the gig economy and independent security work. Security Researchers also formed a notable segment, with 68 participants, highlighting ZAP’s role in advancing cybersecurity knowledge.

Main User Roles

Meeting User Needs

It’s heartening to report that less than 10% of respondents felt that ZAP does not meet their current needs, with over 50% affirming that it effectively supports their role. This positive feedback is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the ZAP development team and the invaluable input from our user community.

How well does ZAP meet your current needs in your role?

Challenges and Limitations

Our quest for improvement led us to ask about the hurdles our users face. A recurring theme centered around the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Users described the interface as “complicated,” “crowded,” and in some cases, “buggy.” Challenges with scripting due to UI complexities were also highlighted, alongside difficulties in authentication and establishing an efficient “flow”, particularly when compared to other Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools.

The “flow” in using ZAP refers to the direct, moment-to-moment interactions users have with the tool. This encompasses everything from navigating the GUI to executing specific tasks like setting up scans or interpreting results. Feedback highlighted challenges in this area, with users finding the interface complex and at times, cumbersome. Phrases like “Complicated user interface” and “Everything feels hard” suggest that the immediate experience of using ZAP can be daunting for some, potentially interrupting the smooth “flow” of task execution within the tool itself.

Workflow Integration

Despite the GUI challenges, most users reported relative ease in integrating ZAP into their existing workflows, with less than 20% finding it difficult. This indicates that while there are areas for enhancement, the core functionality and adaptability of ZAP remain strong suits.

One of the nuanced insights from the questionnaire revolves around the distinction between the user “flow” within ZAP and the “workflow” integration of ZAP into professional processes.

Unlike “flow” in the GUI, “workflow” integration looks at how ZAP fits into the larger tapestry of professional routines and processes. This is about how seamlessly ZAP can be adopted into the existing ecosystem of tools and practices that professionals have in place. The feedback was more positive in this regard, with the majority finding ZAP relatively easy to integrate into their broader work processes. Less than 20% reported difficulties, indicating that once users navigate past the initial learning curve of the tool’s interface, ZAP becomes a valuable asset in their security arsenal, aligning well with their overarching professional activities.

While ZAP integrates well into the broader professional workflows of our diverse user base, we are committed to refining the tool to ensure that the flow of using ZAP is as seamless and intuitive as the process of integrating it into your cybersecurity practices.

Considering your role, how easy or difficult is it to integrate ZAP into your workflow?

Moving Forward

The insights from this questionnaire are invaluable. They not only affirm the diverse applications of ZAP across the cybersecurity spectrum but also highlight key areas where we can improve. The feedback on the GUI has not gone unnoticed, and we’re already exploring ways to make it more intuitive and user-friendly. We’re committed to lowering the learning curve and enhancing the overall user experience, ensuring ZAP remains a top choice for professionals worldwide.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this questionnaire. Your input is shaping the future of ZAP, and together, we’re forging a tool that not only meets but exceeds the needs of the cybersecurity community.

Stay tuned for updates as we act on your feedback and continue to make ZAP the best it can be.