This test is about utilising knowledge of hacking techniques and the target organisation’s vulnerabilities to help improve its security. The penetration testing identifies gaps in existing security measures for computer hardware and software that attackers could exploit.
It’s a type of risk analysis, but it doesn’t typically assess threats from outside an organisation. The term penetration testing comes from penetration, an older term used to describe the security testing practice of exploiting software vulnerabilities. In this sense, penetration means to pierce or a way to access something.
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Stages of security testing:
- These are the send-receive, mapping, exploitation and reporting phases.
Before any test begins, security professionals should properly research potential vulnerabilities affecting a tested system. This research phase is essential because it gives testers an upper hand when developing ways to exploit weaknesses in an organisation’s infrastructure or software applications.
The research could be as simple as finding a known security flaw in a piece of software or as complex as researching how to break into or compromise an organisation’s online presence. Due to the amount of time dedicated to this phase, some testers prefer to put a lot of effort into their “earning scars” during their employment to add credibility later when conducting security tests. Earning scars are shared among the industry, and it can help a tester stand out when performing security tests that are not open source.
After all, vulnerabilities have been researched, and the next step is mapping out the network under test and all existing links between networks. Remote-controlled security testing tools are used to scan a network and identify any potential vulnerabilities. Once an activity is detected, testers can then move forward with their attacks.
Exploitation takes advantage of vulnerabilities identified during mapping to compromise or infiltrate a target under test. There are many ways to compromise a target depending on the vulnerability and the software or hardware being targeted.
Exploitation can be as simple as exploiting default accounts and passwords, or it could be very advanced attack methods, such as code injection, that require extensive knowledge of an operating system’s source code to reverse engineer and adjust it to exploit vulnerabilities undetected by software developers.
The final phase is reporting. Once the security test is complete, the findings should be reported to those within an organisation who will be able to use this knowledge to improve computer security. Those within an organisation will better understand how sensitive data is protected and any first response measures that will need to be taken immediately.
These tests are used less frequently than other security testing methodologies, such as scanning and vulnerability assessments. The tests are primarily used by the ethical hackers working in the grey areas of white hat hacking, but they have been employed in more straightforward situations.
Security testing Methods:
The easiest way to describe the different security testing methods is to think of a scenario and apply the appropriate manner. The classification is not exact, but it will help understand the differences between security testing methods.
- Network security testing:
- Web Application security testing:
- Networked Device security testing:
- Application security testing:
Most people think of this when they understand the term “security test” in the media. Networked device and application security tests are rarely mentioned because they are a subset of network security tests and are not as popular in many circles.
Network attacks are still part of many Cyber Security projects, but they can work with other testing methodologies (e.g., scanning and vulnerability assessments) to produce a complete test. There are some general differences between web applications, network devices, and app security tests.