Penetration testing has become critical for ensuring secure systems. Malicious actors can leverage any weaknesses or flaws in your system to wreak untold havoc. This is a grave issue for blockchain-based companies that handle huge amounts of money. Organizations must ensure that all the necessary processes are followed to protect their investor’s interests.
Setting up a penetration testing program in your organization can be overwhelming. You’ll wonder where to begin and what to look for. Before you consent to perform a simulated attack on your organization’s network, you’ll want to know the purpose of the exercise. What are the benefits? How often should you perform a penetration test for effectiveness?
We have decided to present you with an article that provides you with the necessary information to alleviate your fears. We’ll explain all you need to know about penetration testing and the right tools you can use.
What Is Penetration Testing?
A penetration test, otherwise called pentest or pen test, is a simulated cyberattack against your organization’s system to examine vulnerabilities and the strengths of systems. This procedure pinpoints the target systems and a specific objective, post which it evaluates accessible information and uses different methodologies to achieve that objective.
You shouldn’t confuse penetration testing with a vulnerability assessment. While a vulnerability assessment searches for known weaknesses, pen tests make efforts to actively leverage weaknesses in an environment. Likewise, through penetration testing, you can determine whether the current defensive processes used on the system are strong enough to counteract potential security breaches.
Furthermore, you can conduct these tests manually, automatedly, or a combination of the two. The manual strategy allows pen testers to apply their intuition, whereas the automated approach allows them to use automated tools. Automation is beneficial because of its uniformity and thoroughness.
Why Conduct a Penetration Test?
The purpose of penetration testing is to keep critical data safe and secure from malicious actors who may gain unauthorized access. Penetration testers need to examine technical vulnerabilities, design flaws, and other vulnerabilities proactively to strengthen systems effectively.
The ultimate goal is to identify security weaknesses in a piece of software, network, or machine. The security professional then uses the information gathered to eliminate vulnerabilities before malicious hackers can exploit them.
Security isn’t restricted to how well the software and machines respond to penetration efforts. Other factors are also significant, including:
- The security awareness of employees.
- The efficiency of an organization’s security policy.
- The effectiveness of your incident response plan.
- Your observance of regulatory compliance.
Join our CPENT Training Course today and learn the proven pen test methodologies used by the pros.
4 Popular Penetration Testing Methodologies
Pen testers apply different strategies or a combination of techniques during penetration testing. The selection will largely depend on what you hope to achieve.
Internal testing is conducted from the user account presented to the tester. The tester then simulates an attack from a malicious insider to determine if the account can access resources it shouldn’t or take actions it isn’t authorized to perform.
Internal testing doesn’t have to simulate a rogue employee. It can analyze the potential impact of an outsider gaining access to a vital account. An example is when the credential of an employee is hijacked during a phishing attack.
Organizational assets that are visible to outsiders through the internet are targeted. Examples include email and domain name servers (DNS), firewalls, FTP servers, company websites, the web application itself, and exploitable devices.
The pen tester conducts this test using the perception of a malicious outsider who initially lacks access to the system. This test involves scanning for leaked information, access points for open ports, login attempts, and probing services.
This is similar to external testing. However, the tester is merely provided with the name of the organization that’s being targeted at random. This requires additional time to gather information to pose as a typical external tester.
This is an interesting penetration testing technique because both the client organization and the tester are working blind. IT professionals in the organization are unaware of the simulated attack and only a few people on the client side are aware of this.
This methodology assesses the skill of the security team to respond to potential intrusion detection. This is a risky venture because the security team may try to quarantine systems or limit operations to stop the assumed attack.
5 Stages of Penetration Testing
There are five stages in a penetration test.
1. Planning and reconnaissance
The first stage in penetration testing is planning and reconnaissance. This involves defining the test’s scope and goal, followed by the collection of initial data or intelligence on your target to understand how the target works.
Next, the tester will analyze how the target application will tackle different attack attempts. Static analysis and dynamic analysis are two forms of testing available to the tester.
3. Gaining access
At this stage, the tester will try to gain access to discover the target’s vulnerabilities like backdoor and cross-site script. The tester can leverage weaknesses by intercepting traffic, stealing data, or escalating privileges.
4. Maintaining access
Here, the tester tries to see if the vulnerability identified can be exploited to accomplish a persistent presence in the manipulated system.
Finally, the tester tries to conceal his/her tracks to eliminate every possibility of detection. The tester gathers the results of the penetration attempts into a report, which is then examined for weaknesses.
Most Common Penetration Testing Tools
There are different tools available for penetration efforts. Examples include:
- OWASP ZAP
- John the Ripper (or “JTR”)
- Nessus Vulnerability Scanner
How Often Should You Conduct a Penetration Test?
You should conduct penetration testing regularly to guarantee more reliable IT and security management. Although every organization has its own distinctive needs, the best practice is to conduct pen testing 1-2 times annually.
Nevertheless, the installation of new networking infrastructure, tolerance to cyber risk, compliance requirements, and alterations in cyber policies play a significant function in determining how frequently penetration tests should be conducted.
You can follow this simple 3 point checklist to know how often your organization should conduct a pen test.
- Changes to critical infrastructure, software, and policies: Organizations change their architecture and systems for different reasons. A new penetration test is needed to reevaluate your network’s security and make sure that unplanned vulnerabilities are detected and mitigated.
- Compliance requirements: This also affects penetration testing. Most organizations try to comply with industry-specific requirements to demonstrate due diligence, appeal to new customers, and maintain the old patronization. Popular compliance standards that require penetration testing include HIPAA, PCI DSS, GLBA, FISMA, and ISO 27001.
- Assess your business’ risk to cyberattacks: This focuses on identifying, estimating, and prioritizating risks to ensure safe processes and application of information systems. You can detect vulnerabilities and loopholes that need to be mitigated using a cyber risk assessment.
Learn More by Becoming a Penetration Tester
Most cybersecurity positions require candidates to be certified in addition to their education and work experience prerequisites. Cybersecurity certifications and training are worthwhile when you add them to other qualifications on your resume. Certification programs verify the competence of IT professionals in the necessary domains required to secure systems and networks against potential threats and risks.
You can acquire the necessary skills through penetration testing courses online and certification programs. IT companies, professional organizations, and other online schools offer many cyber security-based certification programs. It would help if you researched suitable certifications before enrolling.
Some of the popular penetration testing certifications include Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT) and Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT Master).
About CPENT: Certified Penetration Testing Professional
The Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT) offered by EC-Council rewrites penetration testing training and skill enhancement criteria. It trains you on how to perform successful penetration testing in an organizational network environment.
The CPENT’s live practice series will teach you how to take your expertise to the next level, particularly if you’ve only been working in flat networks. You’ll learn how to write your own exploits, OT systems, how to pen test IoT systems, build your own tools, perform advanced binaries exploitation, customize scripts or exploits to penetrate the inmost parts of the network, and double pivot to access hidden networks.
Both the CPENT training program and the CPENT Challenge allow participants to earn CPENT certification. So, the real question is, do you need training or are you ready to take the challenge? Visit our course page for more information!