In the era of tech, security vulnerabilities are the most possible backlash an organization can face. Malicious actors can exploit security vulnerabilities. Organizations and individuals often employ penetration testing to mitigate these risks, also known as pentesting.
Pentesting, as a methodology, plays a crucial role in safeguarding the tech era against security vulnerabilities and malicious actors. It is the simulated version of how an attacker can breach your organization so that you can take the necessary steps to secure your organization.
Essential pen-testing terms (familiarize yourself):
Some words are specially used in the IT security field you need to understand before you understand the pen-testing process. Again some words contain a different meaning in IT security from the original one. So please familiarize yourself with these words and phrases:
- Security vulnerabilities: Mistakes in building software, networks, databases, or IoTs that lead to a security breach.
- Pentesting: The method to find security vulnerabilities in applications, networks, databases, and hardware.
- Pentester: The person or group of experts in finding security vulnerabilities.
- Scope: List of assets that are eligible to be tested by the pentester.
- Out-of-Scope: List of assets that are not eligible for testing by the pentester.
- Bug: Same as vulnerabilities, but it’s not mandatory that a bug will always lead to a security issue. All the vulnerabilities are bugs, but all the bugs are not vulnerabilities.
- Pentesting Report: A classified details record on a scope’s security vulnerabilities made by a pentester.
The methods of pen-testing:
There are several types of methods for pentesting. Here are three popular methods of penetration testing with their scenarios:
- Black Box Testing: Black box testing, also referred to as external penetration testing, gives the pentester little to no early information about the application or system or the company’s security beforehand. Black box tests are often used to simulate an actual cyberattack. Black box testing is how an attacker will attack your application. It took more time than any other kind of testing.
- White Box Testing: White box testing is where the tester has full knowledge of the network infrastructure and security systems in place. While these tests don’t mimic what an actual outside attack might look like, they are one of the most thorough types of tests you can perform. White box tests are often used to simulate an insider cyberattack. The scenario of white box testing is if an attacker has already hacked one of your employees, then he/she will process this method, or even if somehow the attacker breached your office network, he/she will process it this way. It took less time to process than black box testing.
- Gray Box Testing: Gray box is a blend of the first two techniques and allows the tester partial access or knowledge into the company network. The gray box is often used when testing a specific public-facing application with a private server backend. The timeframe for a gray box test is usually less than a black box test but longer than a white box test due to the testers’ limited network knowledge of the network. The scenario of gray box testing is complicated as it sounds.
The process experts do follow during pentesting:
Pentesting utilizes experts in the shoes of malicious actors. Application owners establish a specific pen-testing scope that specifies what systems are eligible for testing and the test timeframe. Determining scope sets guidelines and sets rules and limitations for what the testers can and cannot do. After a scope and timeframe have been established, the experts get to work scanning for ways into the application. Summary of the process experts does during pen-testing:
- Reconnaissance: This is the first step a pen tester would take. In this step, the pen tester gathers all the possible information about the target scope. This includes understanding the organization’s infrastructure, technologies, and potential entry points. They may use public sources, open-source intelligence (OSINT), and other reconnaissance techniques to gain insights.
- Scanning and enumeration: Using specialized tools, penetration testers scan for open ports, hosts, services, and ports that are accessible. Enumeration means getting more detailed information about a specific target. These pieces of information will be used later to exploit or find vulnerabilities.
- Vulnerability assessment: In this step, pen testers analyze the target system or application for known vulnerabilities. The vulnerability involves utilizing automated scanners, manual inspection of configurations, and source code analysis. By identifying weaknesses, the pentester can prioritize potential attack vectors.
- Exploitation: Once the pentester has identified all possible vulnerabilities in the system or application. He/she will start exploiting them to gain unauthorized access to the system or application, such as buffer overflow, SQL injections, etc.
- Post-exploitation and privilege escalation: After compromising the system or getting unauthorized access to the application, the pen tester will try to go deeper into the system as much as possible to gain more and more control over the data and system.
- Reporting: After completing all the steps, the pen tester would make a report on all the vulnerabilities he/she has found and the ways he/she has exploited them. Writing a detailed report is a very important thing for a pen tester. The report often includes technical details, evidence of successful exploits, impacts, and suggested mitigation strategies.
These are the main processes a pentester would follow, but it can become messy during the testing phase. The simpler these steps may appear to you, the more complex they are. The process of pen-testing is intricate and experimental. Pentesters use various complex tools, and if necessary, they will even develop their devices to conduct pentest on specific scopes. The complexity of pentesting varies depending on the scope.
Myths about pen-testing:
The world is full of myths. There are also a lot of myths about pen testing. Here RedNode is busting some myths with logic for you:
- Myth: I run a paid automated scanner, and I also have an antivirus program. I don’t need a penetration testing service.
Reality: This is just a joke in the face of modern cyber threats. Automated scanners can’t detect complex vulnerabilities; they don’t even reach the depths of your program, let alone complex vulnerabilities. Antivirus programs check your files for malware, but only for old malware. They can’t detect updated malware. You need a penetration testing service to secure your IT structure.
- Myth: I run a small online business, and attackers won’t attack me.
Reality: Hackers target more often small business than large ones. Because small business keeps their security budget low, so, it becomes easier for hackers to breach small businesses. If you need a guide, hire a cyber security team for your small business.
- Myth: There would be issues in the application after a pen-testing service.
Reality: The truth is there will be a lot of issues with your application if you don’t pentest your application. Even your application will get faster because of removing security glitches.
Overall, pen-testing is the process to gain peace of mind for an application owner because only through an excellent pen-testing service can the owner confirm the security of their application. RedNode is the right choice for you.