Pen Testing
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How to Carry Out Pen Testing

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A Penetration Testing method refers to the process of testing a network’s integrity using known vulnerabilities. A Penetration Test can be executed during routine maintenance or as part of an ongoing security management program. Penetration Testing is conducted by several means including through malicious intrusions, vulnerability scanning, vulnerability finding and even white-box testing. Basically, a Penetration Test, colloquially referred to as an ethical hacker test or pen test, is an unauthorized simulated cyber-attack on a network, conducted to test the network’s integrity; this is opposed to a vulnerability scan which is conducted to determine if a software or hardware vulnerability exists. It has become an integral part of network security analysis and has become the basis of many standard testing suites.

Categories

In the past, Penetration Testing was divided into two categories: White Box and Black Box. A Black Box Penetration Tester creates malware that tries to exploit a vulnerability but cannot find one so they must resort to other means. On the other hand, a White Box Penetration Tester, places as much of their focus on finding the vulnerability as possible without compromising the application or system. So in essence, a black box penetrator would look for anything that could be exploited, while a white box penetrator would look for things that are logically vulnerable – making it very similar to a hacker. Penetration Testing is usually performed against a network that has multiple vulnerable points, or an environment that is extremely critical such as government or corporate networks.

Benefits

There are many benefits to performing Penetration Testing. This type of testing is typically carried out by companies that have no real interest in the internal workings of the company, but would like to gain access to everything to better understand how it works. For instance, if you’re a small business owner and you need to troubleshoot your server, a Penetration Testing team will allow you to gain access to the inner workings of your computer systems so that you can make changes to improve your businesses competitiveness or productivity. Similarly, if you’re a developer working on mobile devices, penetration testing will allow you to gain access to software on these platforms so that you can improve your apps for a wider audience.

One of the main reasons why companies carry out Penetration Testing is to protect their intellectual property and to limit the harm that could be caused by hackers. One of the biggest fears that businesses have is that hackers may gain access to their intellectual property and use it for illegal activities. To prevent this from happening, most companies choose to perform a full pen test, where they send their staff through fake websites and into cyberspace to attempt to get information from servers.

 Penetration Testing team

A Penetration Testing team will analyze the results of their mission and report back with what they have found. In turn, the information they discover will either strengthen their defense against cyber-attacks, or show their weakness and suggest ways in which they can improve their systems for the future. For example, a group that discovers a server’s weak points is able to tell their developers what they need to do in order to make their system more secure. In turn, the developers will be able to patch the weaknesses and release a better program. While most Penetration Testing teams will focus on one vulnerability at a time, others will focus on several vulnerabilities to ensure that their software works as good as it can.

Penetration Testing Ways

There are many ways in which you can carry out a Penetration Test. However, it is usually best to split your tasks up between several different teams to achieve maximum results. You may choose to have one member of your team performing a real-world pen test whilst another team investigates a cyber-attack on their website. Alternatively, you may choose to have an outside security firm carry out a real-world penetration test and present their findings to your development team.

Black Box Penetration Testing

Generally speaking, the majority of companies will hire a black box penetration testing lab to carry out the majority of their tests. These people are experienced in performing black box penetration testing and will typically have years of industry knowledge plus many years of hands-on experience. The only disadvantage is that these testers are expensive, but if you must go this route then it would be a worthwhile investment. Some Penetration Testing companies will offer a free pen testing service in order to win their business. This way you can get a feel for what they can do without paying for the full pen testing services.

White Box Vulnerability Scanning

The final method that you will likely see in a Penetration Test is white box vulnerability scanning. This is carried out by Qualified Security Assessors who are contracted by the NCCI (National Computer Injury Center). They will identify, document and investigate all known security vulnerabilities within your organization. The benefit of using a Qualified Security Assessor is that they are often motivated to do an ethical hackers survey after they have finished their pen testing exercise to make sure that they’ve not missed any security vulnerabilities that could be vital to your business.

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