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What’s penetration testing? How’s it done?

January 11th, 2018
What’s penetration testing? How’s it done?

If it is your dream to secure your systems and data from security breaches and data threats, you should look into the inclusion of  Penetration Testing as part of your information security program. A Pen Test can make this dream a reality provided you are well versed with the most frequently posed “How’s” and “What’s”.
app testing
What’s Penetration testing?
As you have already understood, Penetration Testing offers a complete analysis of threats and vulnerabilities that will adversely impact your systems. To move on with this testing procedure, you should be informed about what’s in store for you.
Let us now move on to the section which helps you understand the three variations of a Pen Test.
Why does your company need penetration testing?
You might have come across many news regarding cyberattacks that have happened all over the world. In most cases, exploitation of loose ends is the main cause behind such attacks.
The reason does not end there,

  • There is a financial and critical data transfer frequently
  • To secure user data
  • You have deployed a system and not aware if there is any vulnerability in it
  • To asses the business impact and to device risk mitigation
  • To check whether the company is complying with information security regulations.
  • To implement an effective security strategy

Types of pen testing 

  • External Pen Test

True to its name, an External Pen Test is a testing procedure that focuses on testing publicly exposed systems, by getting into the shoes of a hacker. Applying the mind of a hacker, an external pen tester will be able to uncover all those scenarios that will provide external entities to gain access to your internal systems by breaching security firewalls.

  • Internal Pen Test

As the name suggests, an Internal Pen Test focuses on all the systems that are internally connected. As an internal pen tester, you will be ordained to assess the security of internal systems that are remotely being operated by an external hacker or attacker. The internal pen test is conducted to check whether the security of your internal system is compromised when intruders can get past your internal perimeter barricades.

  • Hybrid Pen Test

The third variant is a mix of internal and external pen tests. Presenting a blended means to outsmart complex and modern data attacks, you can secure your systems in a novel way. All set to safeguard your internal and external systems, a Hybrid Pen Test helps you shield your systems from remote and local infiltrations.

  • Social Engineering Test

it’s a tricky kind of assessment where an individual will be subjected to elements that can make him reveal sensitive data. For instance, an employee will be sent a tempting email which will have a phishing link

  • Physical penetration testing

Physical devices such as USB sticks will be injected into the system to find out the reaction. It’s usually performed in top-secret facilities such as the military.

  • Network Services Test

It’s a kind of log that’s used to find out entry points and exit points in a network system.
The Span of Control of a Pen Test
Termed as a rigorous form of testing, a pen test analyses the security and stability of your entire infrastructure. Penetration Testers analyze each and every access layer, application, system, and network. These are professionals who are adept at reviewing the code of a front-end web application to bring out the possibilities of a cyber-attack on your network.
In a nutshell, a pen test helps you uncover the following vulnerabilities:

  • Checks how well your information infrastructure and networks are protected
  • The potential risks that your business is running into
  • The level of dependability of your current security solutions along with the provision that is in place to counter and prevent external intrusions
  • Ideation of measures to strengthen and improve your web protection and security systems to minimize risks

Who are Pen Testers? – Technical Experts Who Shield Your Systems from Cyber Attacks
It is interesting to note that pen testers possess the same level of knowledge and skill as that of a hacker. A pen tester is always simulating the real-world attack that has the power to throw your cyber-security norms to the winds. Such activity comes with an underlying disruption that can well be handled by a good pentester.
A pen tester with recognized technical knowledge and expertise can become an invaluable asset to organizations looking to protect their systems from cyber-attacks. He/she will not only record inferences in the form of vulnerabilities that are identified but will also handhold your customers to identify such instances. Ordained to provide you with a holistic security evaluation of your systems, a good pen tester helps you know your environment better.
How is Penetration Testing Carried Out?
There are two main types of testing approaches that are employed by Pen Testers. They are:

  1. Black Box Testing

External pen testers who do not have any knowledge of their target network will get to assess your system. True to its name, black box testing is like shooting an arrow into a dark room without being informed of its internal arrangement.  That means pen testers ordained to perform black-box testing don the hat of external hackers.
They operate as outsiders who are restricted to even get a peek into the internal technologies that are currently in use. This testing approach goes a long way to evaluate the response of your IT department team and the measures it will take to counter an infiltration or security breach.

  1. White Box Testing

As a sharp contrast to what happens in Black Box Testing, White Box Testing is conducted by pen testers and security auditors who are thoroughly informed about each and every facet of their target network. The comprehensive information is made available to pen testers in the form of IP addresses, the versions of the operating system and application source codes along with the network topology.
Allowing auditors to enjoy full visibility of your internal infrastructure supported by internal technologies, White Box Testing demands the coordination between the audit team and your internal security teams.

  1. Gray Box Testing

Balancing the extremes of White Box Testing and White Box Testing, Gray Box Testing is an approach that enables security auditors to work around some information and knowledge about your internal infrastructure. This is an approach that not only unveils vulnerabilities but also helps you identify weaknesses.
Is the Time Ripe for a Pen Test?
After assimilating information about the various facets of Penetration Testing, you have now come to the juncture of making a well-informed decision as to when to conduct a Pen Test. Scheduling a Pen Test at the right time is an important parameter that will go a long way in managing a security plan that is tightened with stringent counterattack mechanisms.
The biggest mistake committed by organizations is to conduct a pen test too early.
Hence you should now delve deep into the chronology of the testing process and perform a pen test at a time when you can powerfully test your security defenses.
Different Phases of the Security Assessment/ penetration testing process
1) Audit: Audit is the first step a security auditor takes as part of his security assessment responsibilities. He/she will start off by gathering basic details about the various processes and their implementations that are routinely practiced in your company.
Performing a system audit, auditors come up with a better understanding of the standards and quality of various technical measures that are undertaken along with uncovering situations that can be improved.
He/she will look into aspects concerning automated security patching, system hardening and checking the capabilities of your system to detect intrusions. All in all, a system audit focuses on checking whether the right procedures are implemented.
2) Vulnerability Management: This is the next phase of pen testing which looks into the effective management of vulnerabilities after ensuring that the right security measures are in place. Under this head, the system software is subjected to a number of vulnerability scans. This is done to plug the innumerable compromises that arise primarily because of coding issues. Checking into the type of software that is being used, vulnerability management is also concerned about uncovering the potent areas where software can be exploited.
3) Pen Testing:  Once you check whether the right procedures are in place along with an in-depth scan of your technical environment, it is time you move on to conducting Pen Testing. It is only when the above two steps are completed that you will derive the best out of a Pen Test.
The time is now ripe for pen testers to enter the testing field. Pen Testers will now take on the mantle of external auditors, performing real and simulated attacks on your environment. They will then be able to uncover the potent security leaks that will attract the attention of hackers who are eyeing to make good through security breaches.
4) Report of your Security Plan: The summary of all the inferences obtained by pen testers is presented in the form of a Penetration Test Report. The Penetration Test Report comes as a barometer to assess the prevailing situation of your security systems.
Accounting all the weaknesses that were discovered by pen testers, you can also lay hands on the comprehensive description of the various testing methodologies that are currently in vogue.
Top 15 Penetration testing tool

  1. IndusFace
  2. Spyse
  3. Metasploit
  4. Intruder
  5. W3af
  6. Kali Linux
  7. Nessus
  8. Cain and Abel
  9. Burpsuite
  10. Core Impact
  11. Netsparker
  12. Canvas
  13. SqlMap
  14. John the Ripper

Given the fact that security is a constant concern to meet your organizational goals, it pays to look into the various aspects of Penetration Testing to ensure the implementation of the basic security plan. Once this is done, pen testers step into the ground, unveiling flaws that were masked and missed out earlier.
This way, Pen Testing comes across as a potent security testing tool that guarantees uninterrupted management and improvement of your security measures. All in all, a Pen Test comes as a relevant tool to safeguard your system from malicious cyber-attacks.

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