White box penetration testing

3 Advantages of White Box Penetration Testing

The recent spate of high-profile cyber incidents are a clarion call for the rising need of white box penetration testing to counter cyberattacks more effectively. Unfilled jobs for cybersecurity professionals, the security talent gap in the cybersecurity industry, and the diversity of skill sets required have increased the demand for experienced penetration testing professionals.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore Technology Risk Management clearly delineates penetration testing as one of the mandatory requirements to counter cyber risks [1]. Similarly, more businesses have hired penetration testers for effective cybersecurity measures, and the market is expected to continue growing even in the post-pandemic world.

Consistent penetration testing is critical to detect and remove gaps in security defenses. However, with the different types of pen tests available, it is sometimes difficult to choose an ideal test. This article explains what white box penetration testing involves and the major advantages of white box penetration testing over black box penetration testing.

What Is White Box Penetration Testing?

A white box penetration testing describes a testing scenario where a white hat hacker has complete knowledge of the system or network to be attacked. This testing type is sometimes called crystal or oblique box pen testing. A white box penetration test aims to simulate a vicious attacker who has extensive knowledge of the target system.

White box penetration testing is similar to testing nodes in a circuit (such as in-circuit testing). It is used for integration and systems testing and can easily expose several security errors and glitches.

Whitebox pentesting process

Difference Between White Box and Black Box Penetration Testing

There has always been a continuous discussion about black box vs white box vs gray box penetration testing within the cybersecurity community. Every expert has their own favorite, but it eventually comes down to black box and white box testing methodologies. White and black box penetration testing vary based on the degree of access and knowledge offered to the penetration tester. Typically, a black box starts with a limited level of knowledge, while the white box begins with entirely open access. The differences between these two testing types are explained in the table below.

White Box Penetration Testing Black Box Penetration Testing
Grants complete access to internal information.

Consumes less money and resources.

No access to any internal information and no internal access to client’s information.
The client gives open access to information and applications. The tester performs all reconnaissance to retrieve the information needed.
Tests from the perspective of an administrator. Tests from the perspective of an external attacker.
Results enable further security analysis. The vulnerabilities identified represent direct and immediate risks for the organization.
Time constraint is applicable. No time constraint for a real-life attacker.
More comprehensive approach because both external and internal vulnerabilities are accessed. Less comprehensive approach because it can only access external vulnerabilities.

3 Advantages of White Box Penetration Testing

White box penetration testing is more beneficial for organizations because it exposes vulnerabilities that are not immediately noticeable during a penetration test but can pose a potential security risk.

White Box Penetration Tests Are Thorough

This methodology combines a seasoned security professional’s expertise with a track record of implementing white box penetration testing tools to conduct static analysis (code review) and dynamic analysis (fuzzing). It offers a comprehensive method for detecting all possible components that may become security threats.

This test guarantees that the results will be more detailed than other penetration tests because the pen tester has full access to sensitive knowledge. Likewise, it gives the security consultant insight since developers thoroughly explain any new implementation.

It Maximizes the Use of Time Spent Testing

White box penetration testing is easy to automate since the tester has all the necessary and vital information. It maximizes the specified amount of time spent testing by providing traceability of tests from the source. This process gives room to capture future changes to the source in the newly modified or improved tests.

Tests Areas That Black Box Testing Can’t Reach

Through white box penetration testing, you can test every single existing condition and even the ones that are not possible with black box testing. The pen tester’s reach increases with complete knowledge of the system and the network infrastructure. The process exposes more vulnerabilities along with inconspicuous bottlenecks that may go ignored during black box tests.

Learn All About White Box Penetration Testing with CPENT

Whether it is white box or black box penetration testing, a professional cannot conduct either without complete knowledge of this subject. These professionals are hired by different companies around the world with the expectation that they are equipped with specialized knowledge about security vulnerabilities within an organization’s network and digital assets. This career challenges you with real-world glitches and ensures job security and longevity in your career.

You can get an entry-level job as a penetration tester when you have the required set of soft and technical skills. However, most recruiters prefer to employ penetration testers with relevant work experience and a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology.

EC-Council’s Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT) rewrites penetration testing standards and provides a detailed understanding of various penetration testing methods. CPENT covers white box, black box, and gray box penetration testing processes in detail so that students can select their niche and build their career around it. Apart from methodologies, the program also emphasizes modern problems and new technologies so that you stay relevant in the market.

Want to start your career as a penetration tester? Visit EC-Council for more details.


Is penetration testing legal?
The consent you obtain determines its legitimacy. When the penetration tester seeks the client’s consent before performing the testing, it is considered legal. However, anyone who makes unauthorized use of computer systems commits a crime.
Can a penetration tester work from home?
The simple answer is yes. Remote penetration testers try to hack into a network, application, or computer to evaluate its security. You can work at home instead of in a conventional office setting if you have a strong internet connection.
What are the four stages of penetration testing?
There are four stages by which a tester can perform penetration testing:

  1. Planning and reconnaissance.
  2. Scanning (pre-attack phase).
  3. Gaining access (attack phase).
  4. Maintaining access (post-attack phase).


[1] https://www.mas.gov.sg/news/media-releases/2021/mas-enhances-guidelines-to-combat-heightened-cyber-risks

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