Fundamentals of Penetration Testing

Fundamentals of Penetration Testing

Although the world of cyber threats has evolved in recent years, so has the world of cybersecurity. There are now new methods of protecting your computers, devices, and personal information emerging regularly. Penetration testing is an example of one of those innovations.

What is Penetration Testing?

For those who are yet unfamiliar, penetration testing is a type of test that is designed to assess your system before a hacker does. By simulating real-world attack scenarios, conducting a pentest helps companies find and fix security gaps that could lead to security breaches. In other words, penetration testing involves creating fake attacks to mimic the attacks of most cyber hackers. From there, it fixes the issues to prevent these attackers from stealing records, intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), cardholder data, protected health information, compromised credentials, and more.

Stages of Penetration Testing

Now that we know what penetration testing is, let’s take a look at the stages of this process. They are as follows:

  • Recon & info gathering: Before your system is ready to undergo penetration testing, it must gather pertinent information on the potential target. This is done to establish an attack plan that is as effective as possible.
  • Scanning: From there, a series of scans are performed on the target to assess how the systems will prevent multiple potential attacks. Once the system finds the vulnerabilities, open ports, and other areas of weakness, this helps dictate how pen testers will proceed with the planned attack.
  • Gaining Access: Once data has been collected, penetration testers use common web application attacks such as SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting to analyze any existing vulnerabilities better. Once they have gained access, testers attempt to mimic the actions that most hackers tend to take to cause harm to your system.
  • Maintaining Access: The main goal of this stage is to try to remain in the system as long as possible. This allows the testers to mimic advanced persistent threats that can cause long-term damages.
  • Covering Tracks/ Analysis: Once the engagement is complete, any trace of the attacks are removed. Log events, scripts, and other executables that could be discovered by the target should be completely untraceable. They are then sent a comprehensive report with an in-depth analysis of the entire engagement. This will be shared with the target to show the significant threats to security, gaps in security measures, the potential impact of a breach, and a variety of other security-related issues.

How is penetration testing performed?

Penetration testing can be performed by an in-house team using pen testing tools or with the help of a professional, such as a penetration testing service provider.

How Do You Test the “User Risk” to Your IT Security Chain?

Users also present an additional risk factor. Systems can be attacked as a result of human error and/or compromised credentials. If the cybersecurity attacks and data breaches have taught us anything, it’s that the easiest way for a hacker to enter a network and steal data or funds is still through network users. Nevertheless, a pen tester can attempt to use password guessing of existing account users to gain access to systems and applications and assess the overall risk.

The Bottom Line of Penetration Testing

Through penetration testing, security professionals can find and test the security of networks of all kinds. These penetration testing tools and services help you quickly gain insight into the areas of highest risk. This makes it possible for companies to plan security budgets and projects effectively. By thoroughly testing a business’s IT infrastructure, businesses can take the precautions needed to secure vital data from cybersecurity hackers, while also lowering the response time of an IT department in the event of a cyber attack.

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