All companies must evaluate the security of their IT infrastructure, and they all have security protocols. However, it may be robust in one area but insufficient in other areas. So organisations need to protect their information and safeguard it from hackers. As such, pen testing, or penetration testing, helps companies improve their security and evaluate the vulnerabilities to threats like cyberattacks. Identifying the weak points through a simulated attack lets companies know how hackers access their data.
Data breaches are a massive loss to the organisation. Meanwhile, the tests are customised to an organisation’s needs, and they help them handle any type of security threat.
Reasons to Conduct PenetrationTesting
- To keep up with the changes in thecyber threat landscape.
- To find and mitigate errors.
- To save the organisation fromsecurity breaches.
- To prepare for compliance audits.
Types of Penetration Testing
White Box Testing
Theorganisation shares network and system information with the testers and givesthem access. And they conduct in-depth testing, collect the maximuminformation, provide a complete picture of the security and even identify theremotely located vulnerabilities.
Black Box Testing
Here, thetesters have no information about the system, and they need to conduct the testas an uninformed attacker. As such, it is similar to real-world attacks, andthe tester need not be an expert because no specific programming language isused. Meanwhile, it takes a long time and costs more than white box testing.
Gray Box Testing
The testershave only limited knowledge of the organisation’s system, like the logincredentials or network infrastructure maps. The testers search and identify thedefects caused by improper use of applications and code structure, and thetesting is done from the user’s point of view and not the designer’s point ofview.
The test istargeted at the IT components accessed from the internet. And it focuses on howan attacker gains unauthorised access to emails, API endpoints, webapplications and domain servers. As such, it finds out how an attacker canpenetrate the system remotely.
This type oftesting is common in many organisations, and it is performed by an authoriseduser simulating an attack by a person within the organisation. It involvesgetting into the account of a staff whose credentials get compromised due to a phishing attack. It reveals how much anemployee who has access to administrator rights can cause damage to theorganisation.
Blind Penetration Testing
This testingis similar to black-box testing. The tester is provided only with theorganisation’s name and no other background information, and it shows how amalicious person can gain entry into the system. Meanwhile, the testing takes along time and is quite expensive.
It is acommon form of testing where authorised hackers and the organisation’s securityteams work together to check each other’s capabilities. It provides valuableinsights into the hacker’s thought process and exploitation. As such, thepeople in the organisation know about the test and its duration.
Five Phases of Penetration Testing
Reconnaissance: The tester collects informationabout the target system. The report includes user accounts, operating systemsand applications, network topology and other relevant information. The testeruses the data to plan an attack strategy.
Scanning: The tester uses various tools tocheck network traffic and identify open ports. And open ports are entry pointsfor attackers, and in the scanning phase, the tester tries to find as many openports as possible.
Vulnerability assessment: The tester studies the data from thereconnaissance and scanning phases to identify vulnerabilities and analysewhether hackers can exploit them.
Exploitation: In this phase, the tester attempts toexploit the vulnerability and enter the target system. It is generally doneusing tools to simulate real-world attacks.
Reporting: The tester prepares a reportdocumenting all the penetration test findings. And it is used to improve theorganisation’s security and fix vulnerabilities.
Today moreorganisations are moving to cloud-based models; hence, pentesting is an essential part of information security. Nevertheless, it helpsidentify and fix vulnerabilities, improve security and protect data fromhackers.