What Is Penetration Testing? — Informer
Last Updated on 8 March 2022 by Georgie Price
“Even the bravest cyber will experience defeat when weaknesses are neglected” — Stephane Nappo
Penetration Testing (Pentesting) is a security practice widely used by organizations as part of their assets’ vulnerability management. Pentesting provides assurance that their applications, networks, and infrastructure are secure against common cyber attacks. In this type of analysis, ethical hackers simulate a real-world attack using an array of tools and techniques to uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker.
The dramatic rise in security incidents proves that cybercriminals are very much in a lucrative line of work and show no sign of stopping as attacks become increasingly sophisticated and destructive. Just as you’d secure your home from intruders, you need to secure your digital infrastructure from malicious actors.
Why is Penetration Testing important in the modern workplace?
For most of us, technology is an indispensable part of our daily lives — both in business and personally. As we hurtle towards a progressively digital future, we become even more vulnerable to cyberattacks with heavier use of emerging IoT devices and cloud services.
With more services digitalized daily, organizations hold more data than ever before. This introduces further weaknesses for security breaches to occur. Thus, unsurprisingly, Pentesting is an integral part of any comprehensive security strategy.
How does a Penetration Test work?
The strongest cyber defense starts with awareness of your current weaknesses
In a Pentest, ethical hackers use the same tools and techniques to mimic an attacker. This is a systematic process, finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in your digital infrastructure. For example:
Vulnerabilities can be introduced from a range of sources, from misconfigurations to software bugs, their presence is inevitable.
- Discovery of a vulnerability
- Planning the method of attack (threat modelling)
- Potential exploitation of the vulnerability (if safe to do so)
- Reporting on vulnerability (in real-time with Informer)
- Advise clients on how best to act on the finding and reduce their risk of exploitation.
The main goal of a Pentest is to identify your real-world vulnerabilities. It provides both technical information on specific weaknesses and remediation steps, helping you mitigate weaknesses before they are exploited by an attacker. The following are common steps of a Pentest:
Which vulnerabilities do Penetration Tests look for?
- Broken Authentication
- Sensitive Data Exposure
- XML External Entities (XXE)
- Broken Access Control
- Security Miscongifutations
- Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
- Insecure Deserialization
- Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
- Insufficient Logging and Monitoring
The main vulnerabilities that ethical hackers will test for are listed in the Top 10:
Remember though, Pentests should be thought of as a method for gaining assurance in your organization’s vulnerability management strategies, rather than a primary process to find vulnerabilities.
What are the different types of Penetration Tests?
There is a variety of Pentests to choose from, and they are not all created equal. Many organizations require tailored tests for their own requirements. For example, from meeting compliance standards to the deployment of new resources, or even to bespoke routine tests. You can pick the one best suited to your needs.
However, Pentesting is more than just a checkbox practice — they are a critical and ongoing tool needed to improve your security posture.
What is the difference between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments?
the distinct features are the Penetration Testing Vulnerability versus Assessments: time they take, their scope, and their cost.
Vulnerability assessments use an automated approach, offering a systematic review of potential risks by using a number of scanning tools to assess your IT infrastructure for any known flaws from a large data pool. It then provides a catalog of vulnerabilities prioritized for remediation, usually with advice on how to fix specific ones.
On the other hand, Pentests have a specific, rooted goal in mind — whether it’s to hack into a specific system, breach a database, or simply probe as an attack to find hackable infrastructure. The core value is utilizing the manual expertise and experience of a skilled and qualified Pentester.
How often should you conduct a Penetration Test?
A risk-based approach to cyber security is essential, so routine Penetration Testing is critical for effectively protecting your digital perimeter.
Many organizations wait too long to schedule a test or don’t respond properly when vulnerabilities are discovered. Depending on the size of the organization, a Penetration Test should be done at least once a year to verify its ability to secure its systems, networks, your clients’ data from threats.
Get the most from a Penetration Test with Informer
Nearly 80% of senior security and IT leaders lack confidence in their cyber security posture, and growing dependence on emerging tech inevitably invites more opportunities for vulnerabilities to be both created exploited. So, it’s time to get ahead of cyberattackers.
As a dynamic platform with a client-first approach, Informer is designed to acclimate to an ever-changing digital world by reforming traditional security testing. Our manual Penetration Testing as a Services (PTaaS) options are integrated into our Attack Surface Management platform, allowing for seamless use of its tools and access to your results in real-time. Want to learn more? Get in touch today.
Originally published at https://informer.io on March 7, 2022.