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Testing with an eye for detail: Penetration Testing

Testing with an eye for detail: Penetration Testing 11 Jun,2018

There is nothing wrong in saying that almost every day we wake up to the latest headline related to the cybersecurity attack. Confidential records (data) and billions of dollars get hacked in fractions of seconds. If there are security breaches or any other interruptions in the performance of applications then it can directly result in financial losses, the reputation of organizations, reduce trust among the customers, and trigger penalties. It is rightly said that it is impossible to safeguard all the information, at all times.

To deal with such type of attacks, you must conduct penetration tests after regular intervals of time. Penetration testing, or pen-test, is designed to assess the security of an application to exploit its vulnerabilities that could exist in operating systems, services, risky end-user behavior. This process evaluates the system’s security before an attacker does.

Various penetration testing tools are available that simulate real-world scenarios of attacks to discover the security leaks that may lead to records loss, compromised credentials, personal and protected information, cardholder data or other business outcomes. With the exploitation of security vulnerabilities, it helps in protecting vital business data from the imminent cybersecurity attacks.

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Ways to Exploit Vulnerabilities

Penetration testing can be performed by an in-house expert using penetration testing tools. An expert can also be outsourced from the testing service providers.  The test begins with security testing professional calculating/assessing the targeted network to find vulnerable systems.

In this process, the whole system on the network is scanned for the presence of open ports that have running services. Not all the networks have every service correctly configured, password protected and patched. After achieving the complete understanding of the network and the vulnerabilities present, the professional will then use a penetration testing tool to exploit the vulnerability to gain access to the system that is unwelcomed.

Apart from targeting only the systems, a tester also focuses on a network through phishing emails, pre-text calling, etc.  All the information gained after successfully exploiting the security vulnerabilities is collected and is presented to the network system managers & IT so that appropriate remediation efforts can be made. The sole purpose of this type of testing is to estimate the system’s feasibility and to evaluate related consequences such incidents could impose on the involved operations.

Importance of Penetration Testing to a Business

Penetration testing contributes a lot to a network’s security. With the help of this type of testing, businesses can identify,

  • Security gaps in IT security compliance
  • Security vulnerabilities before the attacker
  • How long will it take their IT team to mitigate the impact if any security breach occurs
  • A potential effect of a breach or a cyber-attack
  • Remediation guidance

Security professionals can effectively test the security of multi-tier networks, web services, and applications with the help of Penetration testing tools. Such tools and services help the security professionals in gaining fast insights into high-risk areas so that the security budgets and projects can be effectively planned.

It is imperative to thoroughly test the whole IT infrastructure in order to take the precautions required to secure the important data from cybersecurity hackers, while at the same time improving the IT department’s response time at the time of the attack.

There are various stages that a security professional goes through while performing penetration testing of a system. Stages are as follows:

  • Planning and reconnaissance
  • Scanning
  • Gaining access
  • Maintaining access
  • Analysis

Various methods that can be followed while performing Penetration Testing

Internal Testing: In this type of testing, a tester who has the access to an application behind its firewall simulates an attack by an insider. It is not necessary to simulate a dishonest employee. In a normal scenario, it can be an employee who has lost his credentials due to a phishing attack.

External Testing: Here, company assets are tested that are easily available on the internet, for example, company’s website, the application itself, emails and domain name servers (DNS). The goal is to gain access and extract valuable information.

Blind Testing: In a blind test, only the name of the targeted enterprise is given to the tester. In this way, the professional get a real-time picture of how an actual application’s assault would occur.

Double Blind Testing: In this type of test, even the security professional does not have prior knowledge of the simulated attack. Just like, in the real-time scenarios, they will have no time to get prepared for the defense before the attack.

Target Testing: In targeted testing, the tester and the security personnel get united and work together keeping each other aware of their movements. This valuable training exercise provides the team a real-time feedback that too from hacker’s point of view.

At BugRaptors, we have talented security test professionals who are constantly helping our clients by identifying the security gaps or breaches at the earliest by intelligently managing vulnerabilities, avoiding network downtime costs, and preserving the image of the enterprises by maintaining the customer loyalty.

Priyanka Tiwari Priyanka Tiwari is working as a Software Test Engineer at Bugraptors. She has expertise in manual testing of Web and Mobile (Android & iOS) applications. She has good knowledge of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC).

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