Penetration Testing Best Practices

One of the best ways for organisations to protect sensitive data is through penetration testing. It’s imperative that you take action now, with more than 5 Billion records being breached last year . This is approximately $4.24 Million (or EUR3.71 Million).

This blog will explain the basics of penetration testing consulting services and offer some tips to strengthen your defenses.

What’s penetration testing?

Penetration testing, a type security assessment, is when a security professional inspects an organization’s systems in search of vulnerabilities. Assessments are based on the techniques used by criminal hackers and give organisations an insight into how a malicious actor could target their systems.

On-site audits are often used to conduct tests. The assessor is also known as an “ethical hacker” or a “pen tester”. He/she has access to confidential information and attempts to use it to access sensitive data.

The type of assessment will determine the techniques used, but testers generally search for:

  • Inadequate configurations or incorrect ones
  • Software or hardware flaws
  • Opportunistic weaknesses in processes; or technical countermeasures
  • Employees are more susceptible to phishing attacks and other social engineering tactics.

While some organizations may be concerned about someone exploiting their systems, you don’t need to be worried if the testing provider has been certified by CREST.

To minimize disruption to business processes, testers must not misuse or keep copies of information they have access.

This green paper provides detailed information about penetration testing and the various types of assessments that may be appropriate for your organization.

Types of penetration test

There are many types of penetration tests that can be used to evaluate different areas of an organization. These are the most popular forms of penetration testing:

  • External network testing that look for weaknesses in an organization’s hosts, servers, devices, and network services.
  • Web app tests that look for insecure design practices in the design, code, and publication of software or websites.
  • Internal network testing which assess the potential damage that an attacker could do to an organisation’s internal networks.
  • Social engineering testing that assesses employees’ vulnerability to fraudulent emails.
  • Wireless network testing that assesses vulnerabilities in wireless networks such as Wi-Fi or rogue access points.

Testing strategies for penetration

Organisations must decide how much information they will give to the tester before conducting a penetration test.

A more detailed examination will result if there is more information provided ahead of time. A simulation of a real-world attack will be more realistic if there is less information. This is because the tester must gather information the same way as a criminal hacker.

Organisations have three options when it comes to how much information they want to provide testers. Black-box assessments are at the bottom of the scale. In these assessments, the tester is not given any information about the organization’s internal systems.

White-box assessments are the opposite. Here, the tester has full access to both the source code of the organisation and its IT environment.

Grey-box assessments are those in which the tester only has partial access or knowledge of the organization’s infrastructure. To save time, certain details might be disclosed with the assumption that either the tester or criminal hacker will eventually have access to the information.

What should a penetration testing include?

The typical four-step process for penetration tests is followed by the FDA

1. Planning

Organisations must discuss the scope, approach, and limitations of the test with the penetration tester before they can begin.

It will also determine whether the test will be conducted in a black-, grey-, or white-box format. Additionally, it will discuss logistical issues. Will the test take place outside of normal business hours? If so, who will be notified?

2. Discovery

The penetration tester prepares for attack by gathering as much information as possible about the organization.

If the assessment is white-box, the organization will already have the information prepared and the tester just needs to read it. Black- and grey-box assessments might include scanning for vulnerabilities, checking for open ports, or targeting employees with phishing email.

3. Attack

Once they have all the information needed, the tester can begin the attack. The details will depend on the type and vulnerability of the penetration test.

However, in all cases the tester is trying to duplicate the actions of a criminal hacker by accessing resources, functionality, and sensitive information.

4. Reporting

The penetration tester will then create a report detailing the information they were able access and the vulnerabilities they discovered.

The report will contain specific recommendations about what the organization can do to improve its strengths and prevent an attack.

Penetration testing using IT EcomServicesSummit

We can help you if you need support with penetration testing or ethical hacking.

Our CREST-accredited penetration test services were designed to meet your business needs, budget, and the value you give to assets that you plan to test.

There are a number of fixed price packages available that can be used by any organization that wishes to find the vulnerabilities that cyber attackers exploit.

We offer remote and on-site testing options so that you can evaluate your networks in the most convenient way possible.

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