When configuring a new security system, you must ensure that it works as expected and has as few vulnerabilities as possible. Where thousands of dollars in digital assets are involved, you cannot afford to learn from your mistakes and only fill in your security gaps previously exploited by hackers.
The best way to improve and ensure the security of your network is to constantly check it and look for flaws that need to be fixed.
What is Penetration Testing?
So what is a penetration test?
Penetration testing, also known as penetration testing, is a cybersecurity staged attack that simulates an actual security incident. A simulated attack can target one or more parts of your security system, looking for weaknesses that a malicious hacker could exploit.
What sets it apart from a real cyberattack is that the person executing it is the white hacker, or the ethical hacker you hire. They have the skills to break through your defenses without the malicious intent of their black hat colleagues.
There are different examples of penetration testing, depending on the type of attack the ethical hacker launches, the information he receives in advance, and the restrictions imposed by their employee.
A single penetration test can be one of the main types of penetration testing, or a combination of both, which include:
An internal or internal penetration test simulates an insider cyber attack, when an attacker impersonates a legitimate employee and gains access to the company’s internal network.
It depends on detecting internal security flaws, such as access rights and network monitoring, rather than external ones, such as firewall, antivirus, and endpoint protection.
As the name suggests, this type of penetration test does not give the hacker any access to the company’s internal network or employees. This leaves them free to hack into external company technologies such as public websites and open communication ports.
Outside penetration tests can overlap with social engineering pentests, when a hacker tricks and manipulates an employee to provide him with access to a company’s internal network, bypassing its external protection.
Data-driven penetration test
With a data-driven pentest, the hacker is provided with security information and data about his target. This simulates an attack by a former employee or person who has received a security data breach.
Unlike a data-driven test, a blind test means that the hacker does not receive any information about his target other than his name and public information.
Double blind pentest
In addition to testing a company’s digital security measures (hardware and software), this test also includes security and IT personnel. In this staged attack, no one at the company knows about the penetration test, forcing them to respond as if they were facing a malicious cyber attack.
This provides valuable insights into the company’s overall safety, staff readiness and interactions.
How Penetration Testing Works
Similar to malicious attacks, ethical hacking requires careful planning. An ethical hacker must follow several steps to ensure a successful penetration test yields valuable insights. Here’s an introduction to the Pentest methodology.
1. Information gathering and planning
Whether it’s blind penetration testing or data-driven penetration testing, a hacker first needs to gather information about his target in one place and plan an attack point around it.
2. Vulnerability assessment
The second step is to scan the direction of the attack, looking for gaps and vulnerabilities that can be exploited. The hacker searches for access points and then runs some small tests to see how the security system responds.
3. Exploiting vulnerabilities
Having found the correct entry points, the hacker will try to break into his security system and gain access to the network.
This is a real “hacking” step in which they use every possible means to bypass security protocols, firewalls and monitoring systems. They could use techniques such as SQL injection, social engineering attacks, or cross-site scripting.
4. Providing hidden access
Most modern cybersecurity defense systems rely not only on protection but also on detection. For an attack to be successful, a hacker needs to remain unnoticed long enough to reach their target, be it a data leak, system or file corruption, or malware installation.
5. Reporting, analysis and correction
After completing the attack – whether successful or not – the hacker will inform his employer of his results. The security experts then analyze the attack data, compare it with what their monitoring system reports, and make appropriate changes to improve their security.
6. Rinse and repeat
There is often a sixth step where companies test the improvements made to their security system by doing another penetration test. They can hire the same ethical hacker if they want to test data-driven attacks or another for a blind penetration test.
Ethical Hacker Toolkit
Ethical hacking is not a skill-based profession. Most ethical hackers use specialized operating systems and software to simplify their work and avoid manual mistakes by giving every pentest their best.
So what do hackers use for penetration testing? Here are some examples.
Parrot Security is a Linux-based OS that has been designed for penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. It is cloud-friendly, easy to use, and supports a variety of open source penetration testing software.
Live Hacking is also a Linux OS as it is lightweight and does not require high hardware requirements. It also comes preloaded with penetration testing and ethical hacking tools and software.
Nmap – this intelligence tools with open source (OSINT), which controls the network, collects and analyzes data on the sites and servers, devices, making it valuable for both black and white and gray for hackers.
It’s also cross-platform and works with Linux, Windows, and macOS, so it’s perfect for the aspiring ethical hacker.
WebShag is also an OSINT tool. It is a system audit tool that scans the HTTPS and HTTP protocols and collects relative data and information. It is used by ethical hackers who conduct third-party penetration tests on public websites.
Where to go for penetration testing
Penetration testing of your own network is not the best option, as you are probably well versed in it, which makes it difficult to think outside the box and find hidden vulnerabilities. You should either hire an independent ethical hacker or use the services of a company that offers penetration testing.
However, hiring an outsider to hack into your network can be very risky, especially if you provide them with security information or access from the inside. This is why you should stick with trusted third party providers. Here is a small sample available.
HackerOne is a San Francisco-based company that provides penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, and protocol compliance testing services.
ScienceSoft, a Texas-based company, offers vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, compliance testing, and infrastructure auditing services.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Raxis offers valuable services ranging from penetration testing and security code validation to incident response training, vulnerability assessment and social engineering prevention training.
Getting the most out of penetration testing
While penetration testing is still relatively new, it provides a unique insight into how a hacker’s brain works when it attacks. This is valuable information that even the most seasoned cybersecurity professionals cannot provide from the surface.
Penetration testing may be the only way to avoid being attacked by black hat hackers and not suffer the consequences.