Penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking, simulates real-world attacks to find vulnerabilities and weaknesses in business systems, networks, or specific applications. The Global Average cost of a data breach estimated by IBM is $4.35M, whereas healthcare costs $10.10M. In this ever-growing cyber attack, it is essential to pentest your external and internal network, infrastructures, systems, people, and devices to find any weakness before the bad guys.
Testing is not just scanning with an automated scanner; effective testing is methodical and depth analysis of the security posture. This article will outline the best practice to conduct a successful penetration test that ensures your organization is secure and safe from cyber threats.
Define the goal and objectives.
The test should have a clear purpose, why the pentest should be done, and what is the expectation from this test. Clear goals can make the test focused and efficient. The plans include vulnerability identifications, testing security controls, or compliance requirements.
Select the proper Testing Method.
There are three types of primary testing type available. Each testing method has its advantage and limitations.
- Black Box Testing: The testers do not know the target system. This method is the right choice if you want to simulate a real-world attack.
- White Box Testing: White Box testing is the right choice for comprehensive testing. The testers will have full access to this method’s systems, sources code, and other documents.
- Gray Box Testing: With minimal information about the target network or system, this test is executed.
These methods should be explained to the organization and aligned right method as the organization’s goal and objective.
Obtain written permission
Before executing the penetration test, you must obtain explicit approval from the organization. This approval will ensure both sides are informed about the test, its purpose of it, and the potential risk with the test. To prevent any misunderstanding, It is also essential to develop a clear communication plan.
Assemble the team
A skilled and experienced penetration testing team is required for a successful penetration test. You need to choose testers that have experience and skill in various fields such as network security, web security, and social engineering.
Develop the testing plan
To conduct a successful penetration test, it should have a well-defined plan. The scope, goal/objectives, methodology, techniques, and tools that will be used, testing timeline, and everything should be included. For some organizations, you may have some limitations of testing, which should be also included in the detailed plan.
Perform the test
When you have a detailed plan, it is the right time to execute your testing. By following a predetermined methodology, testers should probe the targets using various techniques and tools. It is also essential to maintain proper and clear communication with the right authority to keep updated and informed of any kind of issue that arises.
Documentation and reporting
After completion of the testing, it is also essential to document all findings including the discovered vulnerabilities, exploitation of any weakness, and details steps of the testing. As penetration testers, you need to provide reports to the stakeholders that detail the risks, impact and recommended remediation.
Remediation and Re-testing
It is crucial to remediate the vulnerabilities as soon as they are identified and reported. After corrective actions have been taken, it is very good practice to re-test them to make sure those identified vulnerabilities are fixed successfully.
Repeat the test regularly
It is the best idea to penetration test the systems, network, devices, and applications on regular basis to ensure all components are secure from the latest vulnerabilities and cyber threats. The penetration test frequency should depend on the organization’s risk profile, if any component is changed, or based on compliance requirements. But it is recommended to test at least twice or one time every year.
In conclusion, Cyber security is no more a luxury. And penetration testing is an essential part of any business size that is small to enterprise. But a penetration test should be done only by an experienced and certified team. We are an experienced team providing our security testing globally and remotely. Our Penetration Tester’s minimum qualification is OSCP to OSCE3 to ensure our clients get comprehensive test results from us.