Did you know that many of the hacking incidents could’ve been avoided by proper penetration testing?
When you want to know how vulnerable your system is, the IT team goes for penetration testing. It’s also known as pen testing or ethical hacking in the colloquial language.
As a part of the penetration testing, the IT team tries to break down their defense using various techniques and new technologies. Such tests are vital for any organization to understand where they stand in data security and prepare for the following steps to amp it up.
In this blog, we’ll learn about the basics of performing penetration testing and the step-by-step procedure.
What Happens in Penetration Testing?
There’s no one way of conducting penetration testing simply because there’s no one way that hackers use to gain access. So the security team or the IT consulting firm performing the testing should think outside the box about the possible ways of attacks to the infrastructure.
So, in penetration testing, you can either test through individual applications, IT applications, standalone systems, servers, or networks or through the base of the IT infrastructure as a whole. The security team then identifies the weak points in the system that can make your entire IT infrastructure vulnerable.
Usually, the testers will sit down with the official website, platforms you commonly use, or your IP addresses and break down the firewall. This may range from gaining access by obtaining a password from any employee to running complex hacking algorithms.
There are several types of penetration tests:
- Wireless testing
- Internal and external testing
- Blind testing
- Social engineering
- Physical testing
- Targeted testing
- Double-blind testing
Since the threat can come from any side and in any way, the testers need to be thorough about the different points of access to the systems and conduct pen testing through all of it. This should be performed regularly to make sure that there aren’t any new loopholes coming up. You can hire an expert IT consulting firm providing security services to help you out.
5 Step Process in a Penetration Testing
Step 1: Understanding the Test Expectations
In a penetration test, there are several ways to go about it. While this is strictly a white hat practice, we need to venture into the gray or black hat practices to look at the vulnerabilities from the hacker’s perspective. From these black and gray hat tests, you’ll most likely identify the external vulnerabilities.
Step 2: Setting Limits
While you’re planning the pen testing, you may also want to set the limitations of the test. For example, do you want the testers only to identify the vulnerable points of entry, or do you want them to gain access to your data?
Setting such boundaries for your testing will give a structure for the testers based on your current conditions.
Step 3: Reconnaissance
This is where you get down the nitty-gritty details of the test. You’ll consider the types of tests you’ll be performing, the systems, and the trouble points that need to be addressed. You’ll also be gathering the basic details of the target like domain names, IP addresses, and other important information you can collect.
Essentially, you’ll be collecting data to breach the network.
Step 4: System Breach Attempt
With the information you’ve collected in the previous step, you’ll put them to action. You can use any software or write any custom scripts to gain access to the internal information.
There may also be some technical discovery during the survey that indicates weakness in a particular area. The tester can attack this weakness through several hacking methods and try to gain access.
If the testing team cannot find any vulnerabilities during the survey, they may resort to getting the username and password through phishing attacks and social engineering.
Once the tester has gained access to the system, there are two ways to go based on the initial requirements. They can either mark it as a point of vulnerability or gain access, retain access and check how long it can sustain.
Step 5: Analysis of the Test
Once the testing team has completed the pen test, the last thing is to collate the findings. This will be:
- A list of vulnerabilities,
- The amount of sensitive data accessed,
- The time is taken for the system to respond to the threat,
- The duration the tester was able to retain access without detection, and
- The following steps to prevent them.
Once you’ve identified the vulnerabilities, you can quickly go about fixing them with the help of your IT team and prevent hacking attacks. You can strengthen your firewalls, implement zero-trust security, enforce new security practices for your employees and increase your overall data security.
When you think about the volume of work an IT team has to do to conduct this test and take steps to increase security, it’s overwhelming. This is when you can look for the guidance of an experienced security team from an IT consulting firm.
LayerOne Networks is one of the most trusted IT consulting firms offering security services in Corpus Christi. From managed services to enforcing high-security features for your IT infrastructure, we provide a broadband of IT services to ramp your team’s productivity. Reach out to us now to discuss more details.