Has your company recently released an app, software, or any IT product? If so, did you ensure top-level security for it?
Hacking, through security protections in an app or software, used to require a lot of time, skill, and effort. However, the numerous technological breakthroughs that have occurred up to this point have made it quite simple to carry out application assaults that jeopardize an app or software.
Fortunately, a technique known as pen testing helps identify the weakest places in your app, software, or IT infrastructure and proactively safeguard them before someone exploits them.
What is the significance of a penetration test? According to the results of recent research performed by Core Security, 97% of respondents believe it is indispensable to their security condition.
So, let's learn in detail what pen testing is and the numerous types and ways for implementing it.
1. What Is Penetration Testing?
2. Why Is Pen Testing Important?
3. Types of Pen Tests
4. Penetration Testing Stages
5. Penetration Testing Methods
6. Security Issues: How to Avoid Them
7. Penetration Testing Tools
A penetration test (or pen test) is a special assessment that attempts to evaluate the security of an IT infrastructure by exploiting its weaknesses in a safe manner. These flaws might be discovered in operating systems, services, and applications, as well as erroneous configurations and risky end-user behavior.
Pen testing is considered ethical hacking since pen testers intentionally perform cyberattacks by using penetration testing tools and strategies created to exploit websites, apps, and networks, among others.
After explaining its meaning, let's examine why penetration testing is necessary. For starters, it may boost an organization's security in a variety of ways. Here are a few instances of why pen testing is important.
Pen testing evaluates a company's ability to defend its networks, apps, endpoints, and even people against external or internal efforts to gain unauthorized access to protected assets by bypassing security regulations.
Penetration testing provides businesses with knowledge about genuine security flaws that might be abused. It is a quick and easy approach to find all of these flaws. As a consequence, the business will be able to deploy critical security patches and devote security resources more effectively.
Despite all the technological advances, there still isn’t a single solution that can be used to prevent various security breaches. For that reason, companies must equip themselves with multiple security mechanisms and tools, including antivirus, cryptography, or even identity and access management (IAM) programs.
Even with these security solutions, however, eliminating every existing risk in an IT environment is hard. Companies utilize penetration tests to uncover all of their security problems and work proactively to remedy them.
Another significant advantage of penetration testing is that it reveals more than just what isn't working. These tests are also used as quality assurance checks in order for businesses to understand their effective policies and security flaws. These insights enable a business to deploy security resources strategically, ensuring they are available when and where they are most needed.
A company can never be confident in its security strategy unless it is tested. By putting the company’s security infrastructure under penetration tests, it won’t need to wonder what an attack will look like and whether it will be able to defend itself from it. With pen tests, a company will know how to prepare properly and enhance its security strategy, never to be caught off guard.
Penetration testing aids companies in complying with the general auditing and compliance aspects of regulations and industry best practices. Penetration testers can show how a hacker could obtain access to sensitive data by attacking an organization's infrastructure. Periodic mandatory testing ensures that the company always stays one step ahead of attackers by finding and addressing security flaws.
Now that we’ve addressed all the benefits of penetration testing let’s explore the different types of pen tests.
There are different types of penetration testing, including:
To carry out each type of pen test, specific knowledge and tools are required. Now, let’s explore each of these tests in more detail.
Network service is the most prevalent type of
Its principal goal is to discover the most susceptible security flaws in an organization's network infrastructure (for example, servers, firewalls, switches, routers, printers, workstations, and more) before they can be exploited.
Meant to identify security weaknesses in web-based apps, this method utilizes a variety of approaches and assaults in an attempt to obtain access to the web app itself.
Web application pen tests are very detailed and targeted. Endpoints of any web-based application that interact with the user regularly must be identified for the test to be considered successful.
A vulnerability assessment used to discover threats and weaknesses in client-side applications, this type of testing includes programs such as email clients, web browsers, Macromedia Flash, and even Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office Suite.
This type of pen testing entails detecting and inspecting the connections between all devices linked to the company's wi-fi, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other IoT devices.
Wireless pen tests are most frequently performed on-site because the testers have to be within range of the wireless signal to access it. Another option is to place a NUC and Wi-Fi Pineapple on-site for the pen testers to complete the test remotely.
During this pen test, a simulated attack is carried out to try and trick the staff into revealing sensitive information, such as a login and password.
Pen testers carry out the most common attacks: phishing attacks, name-dropping, tailgating, eavesdropping, gifts, and imposter attacks.
This test imitates a real-world threat. The pen tester attempts to breach physical boundaries to get entrance to a company's infrastructure, systems, or people.
This test's greatest advantage is that it shows weaknesses in physical controls such as locks and cameras. This can help a company strengthen its physical security posture.
Now that you know the basics of each type of penetration testing, you may ask what its stages are.
Pen testing consists of multiple stages. In this section, we explore these stages and their purpose.
After discovering pen testing types, the next important step is to get familiar with its methods.
In addition to different types of pen tests, there are also different penetration testing methods. In this section, we explore them in more detail.
Now that we’ve explored the different pen testing methods, let’s focus on different security issues these tests can reveal as well as how to avoid them.
Every security threat can be repealed and prevented with a proper approach. The most popular attack and their precautions are:
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to disrupt regular traffic to a targeted server, service, or network by flooding the target or its encompassing infrastructure with traffic.
There are three ways to prevent DDoS attacks:
Now that it’s clear how to stay safe in case of a DDoS threat, let’s check out another widespread attack.
SQL injection is a typical attack vector that employs malicious SQL code to manipulate backend databases in order to gain access to information that was not intended to be displayed. This type of attack may result in unauthorized access of user lists, deletion of whole tables, and, in certain situations, the attacker acquiring administrator rights to a database, all of which are extremely damaging to a corporation.
SQL injection can be prevented by:
Yes, it’s that simple to save yourself from SQL injection, but often, people forget to utilize these easy and necessary procedures. Now, let’s move on to the third most popular attack.
This is a thread aimed at application users. It can be used to gain access to user accounts or alter page content in order to deceive app users or deface a website.
There are several ways to prevent XSS attacks:
Being fully armed against attacks, you may have a question about pen testing tools.
Carrying out pen testing is easily done with the help of specialized tools. Here are the most popular and efficient pen testing tools currently available.
The Netsparker Security Scanner is a web-based and on-prem pen testing tool that can automatically search for multiple security threats on a website.
The Acunetix scanner is used to search for vulnerabilities in IT systems during penetration testing. This tool is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
This tool is also a vulnerability scanner. But, instead of IT systems, it is used to search for cybersecurity threats on a website.
Pen testing tools are efficient instruments to prevent possible future attacks. You should decide on the features of each tool that are suitable for your business, or you can try all of them if necessary.
Penetration testing or pen testing is a simulated cyber attack against an IT infrastructure that aims to search for any exploitable vulnerabilities.
With cyberattacks becoming more sophisticated and on the increase, it is more vital than ever for companies to do regular penetration testing to detect their vulnerabilities, block holes, and verify that cyber controls are functioning properly. These tests enable the business to take a proactive attitude by identifying flaws in its infrastructure (hardware), applications (software), and people in order to establish effective controls that are ongoing and capable of keeping up with the ever-changing cyber threat scenario.
We hope this article has helped you discover what pen testing is, how the test process is carried out, and what can be done to increase the security of IT infrastructures in your company.
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