What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is the process of an ethical hacker attempting to compromise or gain unauthorised access into a network or application in order to uncover any vulnerabilities or misconfigurations that may present a security risk.

Carrying out regular penetration tests provide companies with a detailed understanding of their security posture, highlighting any flaws and enabling them to prevent them from being targeted by malicious attackers. Often referred to as ethical or white hat hacking, penetration tests are a vital part of a well rounded security strategy and are often a requirement for compliance schemes.

What are the Types of Penetration Testing?

Black Box

Black box testing is the closest simulation of real-world hacking. The hacker carrying out the test will know very little about the target network other than information that is publicly available. It relies on the tester finding vulnerabilities in outwardly facing components and is therefore the least time-consuming of the penetration tests. Whilst black box tests provide the most accurate representation for real-life situations, they will not provide visibility on any damage that internal threats may cause.

White Box

White box tests offer the most thorough investigation into your security posture. The tester has a full understanding of the application or infrastructure, and has access from many levels. In most white box tests, the tester also has access to a detailed map of the internal infrastructure and will probe to find any vulnerabilities or misconfigurations in order to gain access from an external position, as well as establishing what damage is able to be done internally.

Grey Box

As its name suggests, grey box testing is a blend of black box and white box testing and is often the most popular type of test.

For a grey box test, the tester will have limited knowledge of the target application or infrastructure, but will have basic level of user access to enable them to partially test the internal security of the target.

Network Testing

A network penetration test is where a cyber professional attempts to gain unauthorised access to an organisation’s infrastructure. The purpose of a network penetration test is to check for misconfigurations, outdated software, logical flaws and if there is a way to escalate privileges having gained unauthorised access. They will tend to focus on:

  • Firewall configurations
  • Segmentation
  • Privilege escalation
  • Incorrectly stored data
  • Default credentials

Application Testing

Application penetration tests are designed to uncover any vulnerabilities or weaknesses present in a web app or mobile application that could compromise the security alter the functionality. The difficulty of these tests will depend on what scripts are being employed or how the application is built. In an application test, the testers will be seeking any outdated software, cross-siting scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities, and weak cryptography. They will also attempt to tamper with functionality and cookies.

Why is Penetration Testing Important?

With security threats becoming more common and sophisticated, carrying out regular penetration tests will provide you with clear visibility of your organisation’s security posture and best-place you to protect against the latest threats.

Whilst finding holes within your infrastructure is a scary prospect, a successful cyber-attack can be extremely costly and even business-critical, so it’s far better to be proactive than to wait for any vulnerabilities to be exploited.

How does Penetration Testing work?

Regardless of which type of test you are carrying out, it will begin with an accurate scoping where boundaries are established and project goals decided on. The testers will then begin some reconnaissance, which may include looking for any unrelated URLs or domains that may increase the attack surface, or conducting vulnerability scan on the target. If social engineering is included in the test, recon activity may include searching publicly available sources for staff contact details, staff pass designs or email address formats.

The testers will then attempt to exploit any weakness found to gain unauthorised access, often with a trial and error-based approach. If successful, the tester will find out the extent of a hacker’s potential reach, compile some evidence and then provide a detailed report along with remediation advice.

Penetration tests tend to follow these steps:

STEP 1Reconnaissance

Depending on the type of test being carried out, this is the stage where information is gathered before any attacks are planned

STEP 2Identification

Based on the information gathered at the reconnaissance stage, the systems being tested are scanned in their entirety to detect any potential entry points

STEP 3Exploitation

This is the key phase in the testing process where the testers actively try to exploit any weaknesses in the network and gain access to sensitive information

STEP 4Documentation

All steps throughout the testing process are stringently documented and accounted for, ensuring that any identified weaknesses can be fixed sufficiently

The Penetration
Testing Process

Working closely with you throughout, the process of carrying out a penetration test with Threat Protect is straightforward and easy to understand. From beginning with a signed NDA to ensure confidentiality, through to an in-depth debrief call to discuss results and next steps, the whole process is set up to help you safeguard your business and it's critical assets.
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+44 3334 120 120
Where to find us?
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London: 03334 120 120
Threat Protect Social links

Copyright © 2020 Threat Protect. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2020 Threat Protect. All rights reserved.