How to practice penetration testing on your own

How to practice penetration testing on your own

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.

How Long Does a Pen Test Take?

How Long Does a Pen Test Take?

The security industry has undergone a massive evolution over the past few years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It’s gotten to the point where some businesses are now questioning the value of a pen test, and the cost of a complete assessment.

In this post, we will look at the evolution of the industry from beginning to today, as well as the costs and how long they take. We’ll also provide a few tips for how to get the most out of your pen test.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration tests, also called pen tests or ethical hacks, are cybersecurity techniques used to identify and assess security vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers are often the ones performing these penetration tests. 

An in-house employee or an outside party simulates an attacker and his strategy so as to determine whether an organization’s computer systems or web applications are hackable. Additionally, organizations can use pen testing to ensure compliance with regulations.

In the Information Technology (IT) field, ethical hackers are IT experts who use hacking techniques to help determine potential entry points into a company’s infrastructure. Businesses can perform simulated cyber attacks to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their security systems by using methods, tools, and approaches. A hacker’s ability to break through a security firm’s security measures and protocols is referred to as penetration in this instance.

It is possible to conduct pen tests in three main ways, each with a different set of information pen testers need for their attack. Black box and gray box penetration testing provide testers with varying degrees of information about the target system or target network.

White box testing provides testers with detailed information about the target system; and white box penetration testing provides testers with partial information about the target system.

Cybersecurity pen tests are considered proactive measures because they serve as a mechanism for consistent, self-enforced improvement given the results of the tests. 

It differs from a nonproactive approach, in which weak spots are not identified until they become obvious. A company updating its firewall following a data breach would take a nonproactive approach to cybersecurity, for example.

In order to maximize an organization’s security, proactive initiatives, such as pen testing, limit the need for retroactive upgrades.

Why is pen testing important?

Almost all internet-based businesses are at risk from DDOS attacks, phishing attacks, and ransomware attacks. Since businesses are increasingly reliant on technology, cyber attacks can have disastrous effects. 

For example, a ransomware attack could restrict a company’s access to data, devices, networks, and servers that are critical to its operation. A cyberattack like this could result in millions of dollars of revenue being lost. 

Cybersecurity risks can be identified and mitigated by using a hacker’s perspective before being exploited. Using this information, IT leaders can make informed upgrades to security that reduce the risk of successful attacks.

It can be argued that technological innovation is the greatest challenge to cybersecurity. Technological advances continue to evolve, as do the methods cybercriminals use. Security measures need to be updated at the same rate for companies to be able to successfully protect themselves from these attacks. 

Unfortunately, it is often hard to know which methods are being used and how they may be used in an attack. In contrast, organizations will be able to find, update and replace parts of their systems more easily by using ethical hackers.

The history of penetration testing

The IT sector found out in the 1990s that numerous users in the same system represented an inherent risk to safety.

As a result two teams, known as “Tiger Teams” were created. Unsurprisingly, the military and government were devoted to the first team. Officials of the U.S. Air Force ordered that security tests take place on computer systems shared in 1971.

Computing in the 1980s

A 1984 U.S. Navy study was conducted to test an easy entry by a team of Navy Seals to several naval bases by terrorists. The US government also began to attack unlawful hackers.

This was the result of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which stated that some ethical hacking techniques should be permitted only in accordance with the customer organisation.

Pen testing in the 1990s

Due to the sophistication of hacking, penetration assessments have been sophisticated. Wietse Venema and Dan Farmer, Sun Microsystems, Eindhoven University of Technology published a paper entitled Breaking Into It, “Improving the Security of Your website.”

The “uberhacker,” who has grown beyond the norm, is described in Farmer and Venema’s article.

You can identify vulnerabilities in state-of-the-art security systems and can get in and out of the system without trace.

They showed instead that a system owner should see his/her own system as a hacker, providing the groundwork for current penetration testing.

In the same year the method was called the “ethical hacking” by IBM’s John Patrick.

The 00s

At the end of the millennium, penetration tests finally became a discipline. 2003 was the first time the Open Web Application Security Project issued a list of industry best practises (OWASP).

Six years later a number of common techniques were developed given the penetration testing performance standard (PTES).

2021 and beyond

Approximately USD 1128.10 million was generated in the penetration testing market in 2019. This market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 23,95% from 2020 to 2027. Many organisations around the world rely on penetration testing to keep their sensitive data safe in a world full of cyber security threats.

The length it takes to perform a penetration test

Penetration tests can vary in length of time taken and overall cost depending on many different factors. The process of performing a pen test is a hands on assessment, which isn’t suited to be a short and quick job. 

Details of a scope are to be provided in order to make a better assessment of the project requirements, details such as network IPs, complexity of applications and even number of employees are all factors.

Typically, a penetration testing project may start at around the one week point, however some projects can go for multiple weeks or months depending on the size and magnitude of the work.

A test could also cost a business around £7,000 as a basic price, however they can grow to large, six figure numbers when it comes to large projects.

What Does a Penetration Tester Do?

What Does a Penetration Tester Do?

A penetration tester is someone who uses various techniques to identify vulnerabilities in a network or computer system. They can use a variety of tools to do this, but one of the most common is a network sniffer. 

A sniffer is a software program that allows you to look at the traffic that is passing through the network. This allows you to find all of the different kinds of information that is going on in the network.

What Is A Penetration Tester?

Pentesters actually significantly assist businesses and organisations when it comes to identifying and resolving vulnerabilities within their security. Weaknesses which affect their digital assets are protected by these people. 

Pen testers often hold in-house positions with a permanent employer working as an integral part of a cybersecurity team, while others work for specialist firms. There’s also freelancers working out there in the cyber world.

When it comes to industries heavily involved with sensitive data or information will bring in penetration testers in flocks. Some of these employers also give weight to experience over formal education although a degree is going to help you a lot when it comes to opening doors in the industry.

The cyber security industry draws in curious, ethical minds who either master, or develop their own advanced technical skills and abilities. There’s an increased demand in penetration testers with the need set to soar further in the years to come.

What does a penetration tester actually do?

Penetration testing is the name given to someone who attempts to breach weaknesses within digital networks. Some job titles carry the term “ethical hacker” or “assurance validator”, however they all entail the same premise. 

The main duties of a penetration tester entail seeking, identifying and attempting to breach 

Some penetration testing jobs carry other titles, such as “ethical hacker” or “assurance validator.” These terms reflect the main duties of a penetration tester (or “pen tester”): to seek, identify, and attempt to breach existing weaknesses in digital systems and computing networks. These systems and networks include websites, data storage systems, and other IT assets.

Many people confuse penetration testing with vulnerability testing. In actuality, these two cybersecurity specializations have distinct differences. Vulnerability testers look for flaws and weaknesses during a security program’s design and setup phases. Penetration testing professionals specifically seek out flaws and weaknesses in existing, active systems.

Penetration testing teams simulate cyberattacks and other security breaches designed to access sensitive, private, or proprietary information. They utilize existing hacking tools and strategies as well as devise their own. During a simulated attack, pen testers document their actions to generate detailed reports indicating how they managed to bypass established security protocols, and to what degree.

Organizationally, penetration testing teams create value by helping their employers avoid the public relations fallout and loss of consumer confidence that accompany actual hacks and cyberattacks. They also help businesses and organizations improve their digital security measures within established budgetary confines.

What Is A Penetration Test?

Penetration testing makes use of cyber-security experts, usually within an organisation but sometimes not, to attempt to find an exploit known and potential vulnerabilities within a network environment. This could be the server itself which hosts the infrastructure, or all of the devices connected to it. 

The sole purpose of this security exercise is to pin-point weaknesses within a network infrastructure in order to further protect organisations from having their data compromised by an attacker and taken advantage of.

What Is Automated Penetration Testing?

This type of penetration test is usually performed by penetration test experts with assistance from other specialists. Manual penetration testing is the name given to this test procedure. Manual testing requires long durations and high levels of attention. It becomes stressful and time-consuming. 

In order to make pen testing more efficient, automated tools and procedures were developed. In summary, automated penetration testing is performed by accessing a network using automated tools and processes. One way to look at it is rather than going through each piece of code line by line to check for errors, an automatic scanner can be set up to scan them in a matter of seconds.

What Is The Purpose Of A Penetration Test?

The primary purpose of a penetration test is to locate and document any weakness within an organization’s infrastructure. Once the hole in security has been identified, the server administrators use the information gathered to alter and fix it. 

Testing lets companies determine the effectiveness of their security policies. Some policies may have weaknesses that attackers can exploit when employees adhere to them. 

Another possibility is that the employees do not fully understand the policy. Maybe the organization’s policy needs to be revised or the training program needs to be improved.

Among the tests are those that assess employees’ responses to phishing, social engineering, and the like. In addition, they may identify employees who require additional reminders and determine how effective the training has been. Testing can reveal areas where training failed.

Even in environments that are well protected, security incidents can still occur. A test of how well IT and security personnel respond to such situations is imperative. Using this approach works best when the people handling the incident don’t know if it’s a test or a real attack.

What Are The Duties Of A Penetration Tester?

The majority of pen testers’ time is spent conducting assessments and running tests. Testers work on site or remotely, with projects targeting both internal and external assets.

As the testing team or testers begin the day, they establish a strategy for the project and set up the required tools. In some cases, this may involve gathering what is known as “open source intelligence,” which hackers rely on when they are attempting to dodge security measures and launch attacks.

As the afternoon approaches, teams are ready to implement the tests they designed in the morning. One team might act as hostile outside hackers, while another assumes the role of the cybersecurity personnel assigned to stop them.

Other duties include conducting simulations designed to assess other aspects of internal risk. During penetration testing, penetration test teams may perform phishing scams on select employees to see what type of responses they receive and how those responses affect existing security protocols.

As a result, penetration testers are required to perform a wide range of tasks.

What Degree Is Needed To Be A Penetration Tester?

It’s not completely unheard of for an employer to accept several years of relevant work experience or demonstrable skills over an actual degree, however it’s no surprise than the vast majority tend to favour those with at least a bachelors within a relevant field.

It is recommended that candidates learn about and gain experience with a variety of operating systems, programming languages, and security software, depending on the systems used by employers.

How Much Does A Penetration Tester Make?

Depending on your experience and position, you can earn between £40,000 and £65,000, rising to £70,000 as a manager or team leader. The figure can, however, vary greatly depending on the sector you work in. An independent penetration tester can expect to earn up to £500 per day.

What Skills Are Required To Become A Penetration Tester?

On a personal level, one of the main skills required to become a penetration tester is to possess the ability to think creatively and strategically to penetrate security systems

It is also a good thing to be organised when it comes to time management and have the ability to meet client deadlines. Ethical integrity is required to be trusted with a high level of confidential information. You should also hold the ability to think laterally and ‘outside the box’. 

On a professional level, you will need to possess skills such as:

  • Basic knowledge of computer networks
  • Understanding of how computers work 
  • Knowledge of Unix and/or Linux
  • How to operate key tools such as Kali Linux and Wireshark
  • The ability to code

What Tools Do Penetration Testers Use?

Back in the golden days, ‘hacking’ wasn’t a common skill, let alone an entire industry. This was in part owed to the massive amount of manual tinkering and fiddling in a time with more limited technology. 

These days though, we even have automated testing tools that are effectively computer enhanced humans that can test and provide more in-depth data than ever before. The day-to-day life of a pen tester is made through the tools they use, so here’s a list of some tools used by testers.

  1. Kali Linux
  2. Nmap
  3. Wireshark
  4. John the Ripper
  5. Metasploit

There are plenty of other tools out there for pen testers to use and it’s all a matter of personal preference and what needs to be achieved.

How Long Does a Penetration Test Take

How Long Does a Penetration Test Take

A penetration test is a way of testing the security of an organization’s information technology defenses. It involves trying to find and exploit a security weakness in a computer security system.

There are a number of types of penetration tests, but the most common is an external test. That means an external entity, such as a hacker, is trying to determine how secure your systems are.

What Is A Penetration Test?

In penetration testing, vulnerabilities are exploited in a secure environment in order to test an IT infrastructure’s effectiveness. In addition to vulnerabilities within operating systems, software applications or improper configurations may be exploited.

To gain access to servers, web applications, wireless networks, and other network devices, pen testing is most commonly performed with the use of either manual or automated tools. 

Network and system managers are usually notified about any detected vulnerabilities or ones that have been successfully breached so they can make strategic decisions and amend their security accordingly. Tests like this are designed to determine if systems and their users are at risk as well as evaluate any other consequences that may arise as a result of a breach.

What Is Application Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing identifies potential flaws in web applications whether it is performed manually or automatically. A pen test of this type involves using known malicious attacks against one or more applications.

Typically, pen testers create an environment from the attacker’s perspective and generate attacks such as SQL injections or XSS methods in order to identify any potential weaknesses. A web app pen test is important for discovering technical weaknesses in the database and source code of the application.

What Is Network Penetration Testing?

Network penetration can easily be explained by explaining that it is the process of simulating what a hacker would do to take over a network, an application, a website, or a device. 

During this simulation, security issues should be identified early on, before hackers have a chance to exploit them. In order to identify vulnerabilities in networks, pen testing should be conducted correctly. It can help create real-world scenarios that can show an organization or business how effective their current security is.

How Is Penetration Testing Done?

A penetration test is a complex process of testing the security of a network, and is usually done in phases depending on the requirements of the client. There is no guarantee that what works for one client will work for another. 

Security professionals normally follow these phases when conducting a penetration test.

Recon 

In order to gather as much information as possible about the target, the tester will employ several methods, including operational analysis, the generation of threat intelligence, and appealing network services enumeration. In addition to publicly accessible data, pentesters can also gather data about enterprise systems, which are also publicly accessible.

Rather than being provided by employees, the information about targets is more relevant when gathered by web crawlers and Internet statistics collection systems. You can obtain information online about operating systems, web server applications, and scripts, regardless of whether the web application is being tested.

Vulnerability assessing

In order to identify the target network’s vulnerabilities, we examine the target network extensively at this stage of the engagement. A penetration tester sends probes into the target network which gather information about that network, after which they use that information to learn more about that network.

Vulnerability exploiting

After establishing a threat model based on vulnerability discoveries, the targeted network is infiltrated. It is possible to find holes in old network devices, DMZs, firewalls, or browsers that cannot be exploited.

The penetration tester has to find areas where he or she can exploit holes in a target device to gain access to it. Additionally, while testing a target network, the tester gathers more detailed information.

Maintaining access

After testers have gained access to a testing system, agents are automatically installed. Administrators can reboot, reset, or update the system, but the agents will remain in the system, retain their access, and remain active.

Gathering information

In the phase following the exploit and maintaining access, each exploited system is cleaned after gathering test data. This operation destroys temporary files, executable binaries, scripts, and all other components that are expected to exist in the environment.

When the cleanup process is completed, ensure that the system configuration has been returned to its original state in order to ensure that all backdoors and rootkits have been removed. Whenever you change credentials or create a new username, you must restore them and remove them immediately.

Reporting

An instrument that provides more accurate insight into the results is the consumer survey, which is presented by the seller after the pen test evaluation.

This report should contain an executive summary in which the test plan is outlined in business terms and the results are prioritized according to risk. The needs for this section can be a little more brief, because the business staff will be able to determine what concerns are appropriate and what needs to be addressed.

Technical details should be precise and descriptive, and general or abstract statements should be avoided. Any security flaws that were discovered during the penetration test will be addressed here.

How Long Does Penetration Testing Take?

Penetration tests can vary in length, this depends on a few factors such as the type of testing, the number of systems and any constraints in place. Typically, a penetration test lasts on average between 1-3 weeks.

How to Practice Penetration Testing: A Beginners Guide

How to Practice Penetration Testing: A Beginners Guide

Security penetration testing has evolved into a professional practice in the past few years. Nowadays, security professionals, including ethical hackers, are paid to test and find vulnerabilities in the most secure networks.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with the basics of penetration testing and it’s start-up process. During this presentation, we’ll discuss some of the most common methods and tools used to test a network, as well as a few penetration testing tools you might want to use for your own practice.

Penetration Testing: What Is It?

Rather than solely focusing on how to begin learning to practice penetration testing, it’s important to have some understanding of what it is first. 

In recent years, cyber attacks on manufacturing industries have increased significantly throughout the United States and other countries. In order to make sure everything on your network box is operating as planned, it’s more important than ever to carry out ongoing scans and tests.

During penetration testing, a network or associated devices are attacked in a controlled manner to try to discover any flaws or vulnerabilities. A pen test can also prove useful for companies that have a security policy in place to ensure their system is up-to-date, especially if a real hack occurs. An ethical hacker performs penetration testing, also called ethical hacking on diverse aspects of the network, ranging from testing external network security to testing mobile application security.

It is critical to conduct penetration testing to prevent data loss caused by a successful cyberattack on your system or network, attacks that can negatively impact a business. Whenever there is a data breach, the time takes more to contain it, so if your employee or employees are taking an abnormally long time to contain it, it will be costly. In addition to any fines that may be incurred for not complying, depending on the amount of sensitive information breached.

Furthermore, pen testing is important because it identifies previously unknown vulnerabilities in a network. Regardless of whether you are testing web applications or software, ensuring that there are no exploits in your network is essential. Security audits must be performed to ensure hackers do not have the capability to exploit them.

What Is A Penetration Tester?

A penetration tester is someone skilled and competent in cyber security methods and techniques and can use them to test the extent and effectiveness of a businesses network security. 

As a penetration tester, you are responsible for exposing weaknesses in the security of computer systems that hackers could exploit. There are several ways in which you can specialize in manipulating a particular system, including:

System security may be a crucial function of a large company where you work in-house. As a security consultant or risk manager, you might work with companies to test their systems for vulnerabilities. Furthermore, it is possible to work as a freelancer by securing contracts from organizations.

Pen testers and ethical hackers are both terms used for penetration testers.

How To Do Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is a complicated process of testing the security of a network and usually is performed in phases depending on the client and requirements needed. What works for one client may not necessarily work for the next one and so on. However, the next section covers the basic process of how to perform a pen test.

How Is Penetration Testing Conducted?

Below are the phases that would usually comprise a penetration test and would be followed by the security professional.

Recon 

The tester will use several sources to gather as much information about the target as possible, including operational analysis, threat intelligence generation, and appealing network services enumeration. Pentesters can also gather data about enterprise systems, which are also publicly accessible, in addition to publicly available data.

The information regarding targets is more relevant when it is gathered by web crawlers and Internet statistical collection systems, rather than by company employees. The information about operating systems, web server applications, scripts, and other aspects of the web application can be obtained online via a variety of sources, regardless of whether that web application is under test or not.

Vulnerability Assessment 

We examine the target network extensively at this stage of the engagement to identify its vulnerabilities. Penetration testers send probes which collect information before using that feedback to gather more information about the target network.

Exploiting Vulnerabilities

Infiltration of the targeted network follows the establishment of a threat model based on discovered vulnerabilities. There can be holes that cannot be exploited, such as DMZs, firewalls, browsers, or old network devices outside the scope of the test.

To gain access to a target device, a penetration tester must find holes that can be exploited. Furthermore, while testing the target network, the tester is collecting more detailed information.

Maintain access

Testing systems are injected with agents as soon as testers gain access to them. Regardless of whether the system is rebooted, reset, or updated by the administrator, the agents will remain in the system, retain their access, and remain active.

Information gathering

After gathering data for the test report, each exploited system will be cleaned after the exploit and maintained access phase. The clean destroys temporary files, executable binaries, scripts and all other components that are expected to be in the environment.

After the cleanup process is completed, ensure that all back doors or rootkits have been removed by returning the system configuration to its original state. The importance of restoring any changed credentials and removing any created new usernames cannot be overstated.

Reporting

Following the pen test evaluation, the seller submits a consumer survey; it is an instrument that gives a more accurate expression of the results, addressing both technical teams and corporate executives.

The pen test report should include an executive summary in which the test plan is outlined in business terms and the results are ranked according to risk. This section could be a little brief, since the business staff will be able to determine which concerns pose an appropriate level of risk, and what should be addressed.

The study should also present technical details that are precise and descriptive and avoid statements that are general or abstract. In this section, the engineering team will address any security flaws found during the penetration test.

What Are The Goals Of A Penetration Test?

The purpose and goals of a penetration test can vary depending on a businesses requirements and needs, however the general idea is to explore your network or a business network from the perspective of an unethical hacker, and begin to understand potential weaknesses within your infrastructure and plan a course of protecting the network from them being exploited.

What Tools Are Used For Penetration Testing?

There are a plethora of different tools available at your disposal. 

For example, tools like Kali Linux and Metasploit can assist you in many ways, Kali Linux has built-in tools which all have simple to use GUIs, making it easy for anyone to learn how to do everything from port scanning to password sniffing and brute force.

However there are also other tools such as nmap and wireshark which can assist a pen tester in sniffing packet data within a network and pinpointing information about both incoming and outgoing packet data. 

Depending on your requirements, there is a free tool available to cover it.

What Requirements Are There To Become A Penetration Tester?

A sizable number of people are under the belief that you need to hold degrees and have an extensive knowledge in order to become a penetration tester, however, this is a misconception. To be able to enter this industry you just need to have a demonstrable ability to perform a pen test coupled with an in-depth knowledge of systems.

While a degree and related role experiences are usually more favourable, it is not completely unheard of for someone who pen tests as a hobby to land themselves a junior position with a reputable company through skill alone.

How Much Does A Penetration Tester Make?

A penetration tester makes a decent salary however this is entirely dependent on experience. For example, a junior or graduate can expect to earn in the region of £20,000 per year up to £30,000 however, with extensive experience, you can expect to earn in the region of £40,000-£65,000 per annum, rising to an exceptional £70,000 for senior pen testers and team leaders.

DAST VS PEN TESTING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

DAST VS PEN TESTING: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Dast testing is a method of testing a lab’s cybersecurity that uses a simulated cyber attack. This method is often used by a pen tester to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s cybersecurity system.

Pen testing, on the other hand, is a method of testing a lab’s cybersecurity that uses a simulated cyber attack. This type of testing is used in order to find vulnerabilities in a lab’s systems and networks.

Here are some differences between the two methods that you should keep in mind the next time you’re looking for a lab cybersecurity solution.

What Is DAST Security Testing?

A Dynamic Application Security Test (DAST) is a black-box security testing methodology, where applications are tested from the outside. 

As a DAST tester, you examine an application while it is being run and try to hack it like a hacker would. As an alternative, static application security testing is a white-box testing method called static application security testing (SAST). 

Black box and DAST are often praised. Nevertheless, we cannot completely disregard white-box methods. Every successful security program should use both methodologies because each has its strengths and weaknesses. 

How Does DAST Work?

Through automated scanning, DAST identifies outcomes that are not expected to be included in an application. It simulates attacks from the outside to identify any malicious attacks. Injecting malicious data is an example of this to discover injection deficiencies. As well as testing all HTTP and HTML access points, DAST simulates random actions and user behaviors to detect vulnerabilities. 

Unlike a security scanner that looks at an application’s source code, DAST attacks an application from the outside, in order to find vulnerabilities. DAST does not analyze code, therefore it cannot point testers to specific lines of code when they find vulnerabilities.

When implementing DAST solutions, security experts are heavily relied upon. The tool needs to be fine-tuned by security experts or tested before it is useful. They must understand the way the application works and the way it is used to perform this task. DAST administrators must also understand web servers, application servers, databases, access control lists, application traffic flow, etc.

While DAST and penetration testing (or pen testing) may sound similar, there are several notable differences. This method offers systematic testing of running applications. In contrast, pen testing employs common hacking techniques with the owner’s permission and targets vulnerabilities beyond just the application, such as firewalls, ports, routers, and servers.

What Are The Benefits Of Using DAST?

As with most things, there are going to be both beneficial and not so beneficial features when it comes to using DAST. As the name implies, the dynamic testing focuses mainly on the active or runtime features of the application. We cover some of the ones we think are most important.

Memory usage

An application’s static analysis (SAST) cannot give information or test cases regarding how memory is used and managed within the application. 

While it will assist in the detection of the different parts of RAM that can be easily exploited in dynamic testing (DAST).  It will directly execute the payloads in memory while executing programs in databases or websites that use the DAST methodology.

This method can be used to check memory consumption since it will directly execute the payload on the CPU and RAM memory. DAST aids in testing whether a memory exploit is occurring or not this way. 

Encryption

As per the industry standards and many emerging federal regulations, your application must use encryption algorithms to protect the confidential or sensitive data that users submit and protect critical applications processes. 

Instead of analyzing the encryption algorithm used in DAST, the computation tests to see if it can break down the encryption technique, testing the potential impact to business operations if there is any compromise. 

The authentication mechanism also uses different encryption methods, as there are in APIs. DAST is a method of decryption used by attackers that are more focused on directly bypassing available encryption mechanisms. 

Authorization

It is possible to test if a user is granted access to different resources by dynamic testing or by using malicious code to interact with the application and gain access as a superuser on the rooted device. Using static testing, it is impossible to detect this security issue; however, dynamic testing helps detect it. 

A web application has a vulnerability that, on successful execution, allows an attacker to gain access to a more privileged user account. 

In such scenarios, DAST will prove helpful since it enables testing of the live web application, where SAST cannot be used, since it focuses on securing the web application’s source code. 

Performance

In the running state of an application, the performance of that application will be apparent. It is impossible to determine the resource consumption on CPU and RAM through static analysis; however, through dynamic testing, the resource consumption is determined which is later compared to the standard benchmark used by the industry. 

When executing different payloads in the database, you can determine how much CPU and RAM is consumed as a result of DAST methodology. As a result, the resource consumption can be easily monitored as it will execute the payload directly to CPU and RAM memory. 

What Are The Challenges Of DAST?

There are a few disadvantages of dynamic application security testing tools that should be considered.

Due to the fact that DAST can rely on security experts to create the appropriate test procedures, it is difficult to create a comprehensive test for every application. 

As well as that, DAST tools may mistake a valid element of an application for a threat, resulting in false-positive tests. An analyst’s task in determining whether DAST results are valid is complicated by false positives. Test reliability decreases as the false-positive rate rises.

DAST tools are also limited in that they can only indicate the existence of a problem rather than identify problems within the code itself. By itself, DAST may not be able to tell developers where to look for a solution. 

Also, DAST tools focus on requests and responses which can miss a fair bit of flaws hidden in the architectural design.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Through the use of dedicated tools and vulnerability databases, Pen Testing is carried out by security experts who try to mimic hackers. 

Due to the time and cost limitations, this rarely occurs due to the ability to customize the process. Due to this, there are a lot of False Negatives, making multiple testing cycles necessary.

Due to the fact that the application must be running for testing, the time constraints are severe for this security method. 

Thus, you have a very narrow window of opportunity to test the application’s robustness. It goes without saying that this methodology requires specialized staff to decipher the findings and provide developers with information.

How Are DAST And Pen Testing Different?

DAST is not the same as penetration testing. Security testing of dynamic applications is known as DAST. The testing is usually automated after the development phase is complete, and after the code has been fully implemented. 

An actual attacker may use various methods in penetration testing, which is done by humans. Since DAST generally runs continuously, it can assist in identifying issues as the code base is being updated. 

In most organizations, pen testing will often find things that DAST won’t find, since it’s only done once a year, which is why DAST and static testing SAST are necessary.

Which One Should You Choose?

While DAST can have its benefits, if you want to delve deeper into your network beyond just applications then penetration testing is the service you will most likely require. 

However if your organisation is heavily application based and the focus needs to be set onto that, then it’s probably more advisable to opt for DAST. They can both work well together and should be implemented as part of a security process.