Penetration testing is an important part of every security professional’s workflow. Now, you can do it on your own – without the hassle of hiring a security consultant.
In this post, we’ll cover how to do penetration testing on your own. We’ll show you how to identify potential security vulnerabilities and exploit them to gain access to a computer system. If you’re interested in learning more about penetration testing, check out our article on the basics of penetration testing.
What Is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is a form of security assessment or analysis in which an attack on a network infrastructure is simulated in order to check the efficiency of its security policies.
The primary objective is to gain access to the application or network through bypassing the currently in place security defences through identification of vulnerabilities. A vulnerability is a type of weakness, or flaw, in which an attacker can exploit and gain confidential information.
It doesn’t matter what type of penetration test you perform, the end goal is always the same. The end of a pen test is where a list of risks, vulnerabilities and other information are compiled into a report and given to the client for them to remediate.
All vulnerabilities that are found during a penetration test can actually be used to tweak and enhance security policies, as well as patch applications and improve all-round security.
What Is Penetration Testing Used For?
As mentioned, a pen test is a method of gaining access to a network infrastructure through exploiting vulnerabilities present within the server. Pen testing should be viewed as a way to assess and manage security policies and not directly as a method of identifying vulnerabilities alone.
A penetration test should be thought of as similar to a financial audit. Your finance team tracks expenditure and income day to day. An audit by an external group ensures that your internal team’s processes are sufficient.
Why Should You Conduct A Penetration Test?
For several businesses, such as card processing, annual penetration testing is standard to ensure compliance. For many organisations, penetration testing might prove difficult to view as a key component of their cybersecurity plans.
Are you aware of hackers’ newest exploits? Does your network have hacking vulnerability? Are you aware where hackers could strike? How stringent are your devices and systems patching? Are you updated or have you been neglecting your security system?
Hackers frequently remain up to date with the most advanced technology and grasp each system’s weaknesses.
Pentesters do, too.
Pen testers detect vulnerabilities in the testing process whether old vulnerable systems may be used to take over your system or unauthorised access to particular sections of your application.
This allows you to acquire a hacker’s perspective and identify what happens when your team is attacked and enhance your capacity to replicate and correct flaws.
An attacker can target organisations, in many ways, thus even firms with established security teams and responsibilities are in danger of being cyber-attacked.
You are always searching the Internet, whether via your public network, your public Web site or your apps, for weak systems and applications.
By doing a penetration test to discover weaknesses hackers are most likely to exploit, you may avoid cyber assaults by installing safeguards to prohibit their use.
How To Perform Penetration Testing
Penetration testing comes in various stages, which we talk about in an earlier post documenting the whole process for users to follow. The process of a penetration test is long-winded and requires a vast number of skills all to be put to the test.
Usually when working on a penetration test, you will work in teams (presuming you work in an agency) and each member has to play their part at specific times within the process.
The basic premise behind performing a penetration test is to first plan it out, then follow up the plan with a recon mission to gather as much intelligence about the target system as possible. From there, you begin to exploit any found vulnerabilities.
Upon gaining access to the system, pen testers then try to keep access and see how far into the infrastructure they can get before they are even noticed.
Finally, the pen test is concluded and a report is given to the company who requested it.
Connie has been working within the cyber security industry for almost 10 years now, specialising in penetration testing or more specifically web application pen testing. She believes that everyone online should have access to this information and strives to provide people with the knowledge they need to begin within the industry and for others to stay safe online.