Security Penetration testing is a legitimate hacking procedure carried out by pen-testers in different stages to check the systems for vulnerabilities and loopholes that might cause a cyber-attack in the future. The penetration testing technique protects businesses from both internal and external cyber threats, upholding their reputation.
With constantly evolving technology, security consultants also need to amp up their security techniques to secure systems. Penetration testing is one of the best tools for security experts to know the possible risks in detail.
Security Penetration testing
Also called ethical hacking, the security penetration testing technique is a process of simulating a cyber-attack on a company’s system to identify risks and areas that need to be enhanced to comply with industry standards and policies. The attack is carried out in a controlled environment by pen testers. With pen testing, security experts can find the possible threats that can invade the system and the security flaws that need to be enhanced to prevent any data breach.
Both testers and businesses will gain a better understanding of system security, and ways cybercriminals can hack it. By undergoing a ‘pen test’ service, organisations are working towards achieving several goals, including:
Skills of a Pen Tester
A pen tester must be a certified skilled professional and must have expertise in the following areas:
- An experienced ethical hacker with a degree in the profession.
- Pen testers must know Pen test management platforms and security assessment tools.
- Must know about threat modeling and cloud computing.
- Must be familiar with various computer programming languages like Java, Python, BASH, Perl, Ruby, etc required for scripting.
- The tester must know cryptography
- Must be proficient with various remote access technologies, and network and application security.
- Proficient in working on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- The tester must be a good observer of details and should have quick decision-making skills.
- Must document test findings and provide them to the organisation.
- Must explain complex processes to employees.
Different phases of Pen Testing
Below listed are 6 different stages of pen testing:
- Reconnaissance phase
- Threat modeling & vulnerability identification
- Exploitation phase & post-exploitation
- Comprehensive reporting
- Resolution phase
- Re-testing phase
Benefits of Security Penetration testing
The benefits of Pen testing are as described below:
1) Spotting loopholes in systems and possible cyber threats
Pen testing will help a business to analyse the quality of the existing information security controls and systems, and how they could be exploited. They will also understand the areas of the security system that could be exploited to cause severe damage. By thoroughly understanding all these issues, the business will be in the best position to protect its systems from all kinds of cyber threats and uphold its reputation as a safe business to deal with.
2) Achieving regulatory compliance
Those businesses achieving regulatory compliance with the internationally recognised ISO 27001 Information Security Standards include penetration testing as part of its compliance reviews. Companies certified with these standards have a reputation in the market for their quality of services and other organisations and provide their customers with peace of mind by demonstrating a commitment to strong security standards.
3) Perspective of IT systems
Penetration testing will help businesses understand their IT systems, and they will get a perspective on possible cyber security breaches that can hamper their systems. This will help them secure their information systems in the future. While implementing an IT system, companies often focus on the operational part, ensuring it runs successfully. They may not devote time and attention to securing their systems from all types of cyber risks, which exposes them to vulnerabilities. Pen testing services allow businesses to view their systems from a different perspective and improve their understanding of cyber threats, ensuring their systems will have a secure future.
4) Compatibility between new and existing systems
Businesses often upgrade only one aspect of their IT systems, rather than entirely overhauling their networks. Hence, new programs and software operate concurrently with older ones. This can expose the business’ networks to cyber threats unless the organisation has ensured to overcome security issues faced by old systems, such that they are compatible with the new ones.
5) Protect against both external and internal cyber threats
While it is important to protect systems against external threats, like hackers and cybercriminals, organisations also need to secure their information security systems against internal threats. The possible internal threats in the form of disgruntled staff or contractors, who attempt to launch a cyber-attack on a system they are already familiar with. One of the key benefits of comprehensive ethical hacking services is that the testers approach it from various perspectives, both internal and external. This gives a better understanding of the different types of cyber threats a business could be exposed to, and what needs to be done to protect it from the scope of these threats.
Different approaches to Pen Testing
There are three approaches to industrial Pen testing services, and each category has a different approach and perspective to addressing the cyber security issue. They are called Black Box, White Box, and Gray Box Pen Testing. By conducting pen testing services in these three approaches, the testers will be in the best position to understand the complete scope of information security threats, and the data breaches that can hamper business systems.
Black Box Pen testing is also known as external pen testing, and a pen tester has no information on the information management systems (ISMS) and IT infrastructure of an organisation. The tester is a total outsider who will have to do extensive research on the information security systems of the organisation and find areas that could be exploited by a cyber-attack. It will help them measure the computer security of a business and where enhancements need to be done.
In White Box pen testing, a pen tester is provided with all the information on the IT infrastructure, environment, and source codes of a company. It is also called a glass box or clear box pen testing and is a detailed form of testing. The tester here is a computer security geek with complete knowledge of ISMS and full access to discover what kind of cyber security threats could be conducted. This approach takes two or three weeks to complete.
It is a focused form of pen testing, where the pen tester is provided with partial information on the organisation’s infrastructure and source code structure. With partial access to information, a pen tester can exploit the internal web browser to check for any loopholes and vulnerabilities in the management systems. Here pen testers act like cybercriminals with limited knowledge of the computer system. They will monitor these areas to check what kind of cyber security damage could be done with this limited access.
Comprehensive report on findings
After the completion of the penetration testing process, organisations will be provided with a comprehensive report on the findings. It outlines how they approached the task, and what cyber security threats were discovered. It will also provide strategic solutions to overcome threats and ensure the integrity of the IT system of an organisation is upheld.
All Australian businesses, irrespective of their industry, size, and scope, and having an IT system, must undergo ethical hacking. It will provide an on-field check of the possible internet security threats lurking in the systems of an organisation. It also demonstrates a commitment to quality, safety, and security, and provides customers, staff, and stakeholders with an assurance that their confidential information is safe.