What is Penetration Testing, Strategic Approaches and Its Types?

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In the wake of the global pandemic, the organizations were required to secure their security infrastructure and establish endpoint security as most of their workforce is working remotely. The shift to working remotely saw an exchange of data over cloud services and employees using their devices connected to their home wi-fi, which can pose a huge threat to the organization’s safety, which is prone to cyberattacks and data breaches. Therefore, organizations are looking for cybersecurity professionals who can test and audit their systems, network, and the entire infrastructure to pinpoint vulnerabilities and loopholes that can potentially lead to cyberattacks.

This testing is carried out by penetration testers who monitor and audit the security parameters by conducting various tests using automated tools and more. The blog talks in detail about penetration testing, strategic approaches taken
by pentesters to conduct a pentest, and the different types of penetration testing.

What Is a Penetration Test?

Penetration testing is a technique used in cybersecurity to test vulnerabilities and threats in an application or network. Here, the penetration professionals think from the attacker’s point of view and evaluate the effectiveness of security measures. If the flaw is found, they modify it before the hacker attacks. And safeguards the security controls. Most ethical hackers perform penetration tests to check the exploitable vulnerabilities. Many organizations are also using pen testing before the release of a product to test it.

What Is the Primary Purpose of Penetration Testing?

The purpose of penetration testing is to detect security weaknesses and issues. This testing can also be used to test an organization’s security policy, its attachment to compliance requirements, its employee’s security awareness, and the company’s capability to pick up and react to security incidents. The final goal is to detect security problems and vulnerabilities. In addition, we have many side goals that Pen testing activities can do:

  • Test the compliance of security policies.
  • Verify the awareness of the staff in terms of security.
  • Check if and how an organization can face a security breach.

Penetration Testing Strategic Approaches

There are a few ways where cybersecurity experts can take while executing a penetration test. The key difference tells how much knowledge that the theoretical attacker thinks to have.

1. Gray Box Penetration Test

This type of penetration testing will have the tester possess some basic knowledge about the system. It could be initial credentials, a network infrastructure map, or application logic flow charts. The test will give away a very realistic outcome because many cyber attackers will not even attempt to attack without a small amount of information about the target. This way essentially skips over the “reconnaissance” step and first gets to the actual pen test. It can be done more quickly and focus exactly on systems that are already known to be risky.

2. Black Box Penetration Test

This type of test was performed without any idea of the earmarked network or the systems running on it. The tester does not have any idea about the internal code or software and has no access to any credentials or sensitive data. This form of testing is realistic because it enables the tester to think like a potential hacker when searching for vulnerabilities. While it may seem like the exact form of testing, black box tests are restricted by time limits. The tester usually has a certain time to check on the system and try to earn access, while a hacker does not have similar restrictions and could detect weaknesses that are not obvious.

3. White Box Penetration Test

The last penetration testing approach is a less simulated cyberattack than a complete scanning of a system at the source code level. Testers are given the highest access privilege level, allowing them to break through the system completely for logic vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, poorly written code, and deficient security measures. While very comprehensive, it may not identify the gaps that an attacker would exploit from the outside using unconventional procedures. For this reason, it is often helpful to do a white box test in co-existence with black or gray box testing.

Types of Penetration Testing

To begin with, there are five types of penetration testing, with each having to resolve different types of security problems. For the company to perform a Pen test on their system, it is necessary to understand the differences to know which type of test will meet the need.

1. Network Penetration Test

In a network penetration test, you would be testing a network environment for potential security vulnerabilities and threats. This test was divided into two categories: external and internal penetration tests. An external penetration test would involve testing the public IP addresses, whereas, in an internal test, you can become part of an internal network and test that network.

The test generally aims at the following network areas in their penetration tests.

  • Firewall configuration
  • Firewall bypass testing
  • Stateful analysis testing.
  • IPS deception
  • DNS level attacks

2. Web application penetration test

A web application penetration testing examines the potential security problems or problems that occurred due to insecure design, development, or coding. This test detects the potential vulnerabilities in the websites and web applications with CRN and externally or internally developed programs, leading to exposing or leaking important data and personal confidential data. This test is designed to focus mainly on browsers, websites and web applications, and other components like plug-in, procedures, Applets, etc.

3. Client-side test

The client-side test can also be called an internal test run to identify potential security threats that could emerge from within the organization. It could be a disadvantage in software applications running in the user’s workplace where a hacker can easily utilize it. The theme of utilizing can be exploiting vulnerabilities in client-side applications like through emails, web browsers, Macromedia Flash, Adobe Acrobat, and other modes. A hacker can use a vulnerable application through a smartly crafted email or by attracting the employee to visit a malicious web page or by malware loaded on USB sticks that are automatically executed once kept in the user’s workplace. Though running the client-side test can identify the disadvantages and reduce data breach and system vulnerability.

4. Wireless network test

Wireless network test is about dealing with wireless devices like tablets, laptops, notebooks, iPods drives, smartphones, etc. As the name itself says that the test has to examine all the wireless devices to detect any security loopholes and identify the devices that are deemed to be weak or rogue. Besides the gadgets, the penetration test considers testing administration credentials to determine crossing access rights.

Social engineering pen test

Social engineering acts as a crucial play in penetration testing. It is such a test that proves the Human Network of an organization. This test helps secure an attempt of a potential attack from within the organization by an employee looking to start a breach or an employee being cheated in sharing data. This kind of test has both remote penetration test and physical penetration test, which aims at most common social engineering tactics used by ethical hackers like phishing attacks, imposters, tailgating, pre-texting, gifts, dumpster diving, eavesdropping, to name a few.

Mainly organizations need penetration testing professionals and need minimum knowledge about it to secure the organization from cyberattacks. They use different approaches to find the attacks and defend them. And they are five types of penetration testing: network, web application, client-side, wireless network, and social engineering penetration tests. One of the best ways to learn penetration testing certifications is EC-Council Certified Penetration Testing Professional or CPENT is one of the best courses to learn penetration testing. In working in flat networks, this course boosts your understanding by teaching how to pen test OT and IoT systems, write and build your exploits and tools with advanced binaries exploitation conduction, access hidden networks, and exploit customization to get into a most profound segment of the network. There are two ways to get certified, and you can choose in which way. The first one is by joining the CPENT Training Course. Learners will get the full knowledge of pen testing methodology. Another one is CPENT Challenge Edition. The learner has to tackle the pen testing challenges and earn your certification.

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Why Conduct a Penetration Test?
To keep sensitive data safe and encrypted from cyberattackers trying to access unauthorized data. The penetration tester needs to examine design flaws, technical vulnerabilities, etc., to strengthen the system’s security.

Read More: Everything you should know about penetration testing?

Is Penetration Testing Useful for Small Businesses
Start-ups and small businesses are the primary targets for cybercriminals because they don’t invest in security first. Penetration testing is compulsory for your business to avoid cyberattacks. It defends the attacks and helps in business growth.

Read More: How penetration testing professionals can help your small business?

Why Is Penetration Testing Important for All Businesses?
Penetration testing is essential for every organization, whether it is small or big. To store organizations’ confidential data in different sectors like eCommerce, healthcare, financial, educations, Educational Institutions. It is good to maintain a penetration professional for your business.

Read More: A complete guide to the six phases of penetration testing?

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