Posted in:

Your Complete Guide on Penetration Testing

Penetration Testing or Pen test is a replicated attack against a particular service or technology. Companies generally perform such tests to ascertain their infrastructure’s resistance against attempts to hack their systems and networks. 

Penetration Testing thus helps companies detect any vulnerabilities, loopholes, or backdoors in their current protection method against cyberattacks. Keeping an eye out for these system drawbacks is of prime importance in today’s tech era, and investing in IT Infrastructure support solutions can help prevent invasions or data spills.

What is Penetration Testing all about?

The intent of a pen testing service is to manufacture an “attack” on the companies existing IT infrastructure, this is typically performed by highly trained cybersecurity personnel with the intent of identifying and exploiting any potential vulnerabilities with the intent of gaining unauthorised access to internal systems.

They create non-hostile attacks to attempt and replicate real-life scenarios that might exploit the system’s drawbacks and vulnerabilities. This means that experts can perform tests on various software, applications, firewalls, VPNs, websites, etc. In addition, many companies invest in professional pen testers who assess their systems employing such simulated attacks and provide these companies with IT Infrastructure solutions for detecting and fixing loopholes in the system.

What are the stages involved with Penetration Testing?

Pen tests may be referred to as someone trying to see if someone can break into their house by doing that themselves to look for vulnerabilities. However, Pen testing isn’t as simple and involves multiple stages: 

  • Preparing and Planning

The first stage includes planning to align the clients and their testers towards the aim of the test. Herein, they plan out and request information that the testers need for the test to begin with. 

  • Discovery and Scanning

Here, testers perform different types of examinations regarding the target system. Particulars like the IP Address can help determine connection and firewall information on the technical end. On the other end, personal data like email addresses, names, and job titles can be valuable.

  • Penetration Attempts 

With all the information they need about their target, testers can now initiate their attack to try and infiltrate the system, exploiting weaknesses and loopholes.

  • Analysis and Reporting

Now having been through the system, testers create a report that includes specific details of the steps used, emphasizing what methods were employed to gain success penetrating the system, weaknesses, and loopholes found, relevant information unearthed, and recommendations for fixing the same.

  • Cleanup and Improvements

Penetration testers can’t leave any trace and need to go back through the system and remove any footprints that an actual attacker may later use to gain the upper hand against the system. Then, the company can initiate necessary changes and fixes to these vulnerabilities and loopholes in their IT Infrastructure.

  • Retesting

The best method to ensure that the fixes and remedies applied are effective is to conduct a retest. Furthermore, with the constantly changing landscape of the IT Environment, new weaknesses are always expected to emerge, and to keep those in check, conducting such tests again becomes essential.

What are some methods of conducting pen tests?

  • Web application tests: This penetration test uses different software to evaluate the vulnerabilities of web-based applications and software programs.
  • Physical penetration tests: Physical Penetration Tests are generally used for Governmental websites or similar secure facilities. This penetration test exploits access points and physical network devices in a simulated security breach.
  • Network services test: This pen test is the most commonly used scenario in which a tester tries to identify holes in the network either remotely or locally.
  • Client-side test: This is when an MSP tries to exploit the client-side software for vulnerabilities.
  • Wireless security test: This penetration test works on a similar methodology to wired tests, but recognizes open, low-security, or unauthorized Wi-Fi networks and tries to infiltrate through those.
  • Social engineering tests: Here, the penetration test makes an employee, or a third party reveal sensitive data like passwords, business data, or other important information. This is generally carried out by targeting the company’s sales representatives or help desk employees over the phone or through the internet.

What are penetration testing tools?

Malicious attackers use various tools to make their attacks successful. The same is true in the case of penetration testers. Different Penetration Testing Software helps testers think out-of-the-box methods to exploit the system, while the software carries out tasks that take time but no brainpower whatsoever. Penetration tests are carried out using various tools that provide a broad spectrum of tools and functionalities. There is a huge variety of pen testing tools available in the market today. Some of the tools include: –

  • Port scanners
  • Vulnerability scanners
  • Application scanners
  • Web application assessment proxies

How long does it take to carry out a penetration test?

A pen test can take anywhere between one to three weeks to perform. The time needed to complete a test varies and can depend on a spectrum of factors, including the type of pen test being carried out, the strength of your existing IT security infrastructure, the type and number of systems being carried out, among others. Pen tests aren’t a process to be rushed since the main aim of such tests is to provide a detailed report of any vulnerabilities in the company’s systems which may be a reason for concern in the future.

Before you go

With the ever-changing landscape of cyber security in the IT industry, the risk of a security breach is a topic of significant concern. It has become a priority for organizations to pay greater attention and detail to their cyberinfrastructure to prevent data breaches which can cause huge losses to the companies. Companies are investing more and more in their IT infrastructure support and IT infrastructure solutions to make their network and software infrastructure more secure against attackers. Cyber security furtherance methods like pen testing are gaining momentum as new methods of attacking continue to emerge; pen testing is the way to go.