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Penetration Testing 101: Everything You Should Know!

Penetration Testing

One word. ‘Security’. That explains it all.

Today’s corporate environment demands a high-level security seeing the rise of cyber incidents involving data theft, hacking of computer servers and networks, hijacking financial information etc. Even if your IT department and management team puts in their best efforts to counter these attacks, the hackers always manage to get their way in.

But, with the power of Penetration Testing, you can discover all possible security vulnerabilities and weaknesses before the hackers do. A Pen Tester inspects, identifies, and exploits any vulnerabilities found in operating systems, services and applications.

Hackers gain unauthorized access to a company’s IT infrastructure through a roster of entry points, including operating system backdoors, unpremeditated faults or errors while writing a software code, incorrect implementation and management software configuration etc.

Pen Testing is successfully performed either manually or through automated processes, on the following endpoints:

  • Servers
  • Network (including wireless network)
  • Network security devices (firewalls, routers, network devices etc.)
  • Mobile devices
  • Wireless devices
  • And other exposed areas including software applications, patches, or codes behind them

However, this doesn’t mean that the penetration testing process remains constrained to this level. The fundamental objective is to dig down deep into the IT framework to uncover the causes behind breaches or cyber-attacks.

How You Can Approach Penetration Testing

To expose the vulnerabilities found in a software app, there are three different types of Penetration Testing approaches that pen testers employ:

  • Black Box Testing
  • White Box Testing
  • Gray Box Testing

Black Box Testing

Not always does it happen that the hacker is completely aware of the fine points of its target company’s IT infrastructure. And that’s why, the hackers will go for a brute force attack on the IT infrastructure, in an attempt to discover any vulnerabilities that they latch onto.

Putting it simply, Black Box Testing is like shooting an arrow blindfold without knowing where to hit. Pen testers have no prior knowledge about their target network, neither about its source code or software architectural framework. Consequently, this particular type of test takes considerably longer to accomplish the desired outcome. In this testing approach, the tester often banks on using automated processes to entirely expose all the weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This type of test is also considered as the “trial and error” approach.

White Box Testing

White Box Testing, or better known as “Clear Box Testing,” is performed by pen testers or InfoSec auditors that have complete knowledge and rights to penetrate the entire IT infrastructure. The comprehensive information made available to the pen testers include IP addresses, all OS versions in use, and application source codes with network topology. Compared to a Black Box Test, a White Box Test is performed in less time frame. Additionally, you can accomplish a rather thorough pen test using this approach.

White Box Testing is usually performed by an external security audit team in coordination with a company’s internal security team.

Gray Box Testing

Gray Box Testing is a mix of both the Black Box and the White Box Pen Testing. In simple words, the pen tester has restricted information about the internal infrastructure of the application or network under scrutiny. This is rather limited to getting access to only the software code and the system architecture diagrams.

In Gray Box Testing, you can easily switch between using manual and automated processes. With this testing approach, pen testers can put their efforts primarily focusing on areas that they are aware of and then accordingly identify and exploit existing vulnerabilities. Through this testing method, there is more chance that pen testers are able to find “security holes” that are comparatively harder to dig out.

Conclusion

Seeing the fact that security remains a crucial concern of every organization to meet its organizational goals, hiring an expert Penetration Testing company can help them ensure that a strong unbreachable security plan is implemented.

Pen Testing is a potent security testing process that guarantees to maintain an uninterrupted management and enhancement of your security measures against malicious cyber-attacks.

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