Penetration Testing: Types of Testing in 2022
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, tests the computer network, system, or web apps to find security vulnerabilities that an attacker(hacker) could exploit. Penetration testing can be performed automatically or performed manually.
The process includes gathering information about the target before the test, identifying possible entry points, trying to break in, either virtually or for real, and reporting back the findings.
Before penetration testing, let’s see what vulnerability is.
What is Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a risk that an attacker can disrupt or gain authorized access to an unauthorized system or any data contained within it. Hacker is a well-known term for a user trying to access unauthorized information.
An accident usually introduces vulnerabilities during the software development and implementation phase.
Common vulnerabilities include design code errors, configuration errors, software bugs, etc.
Penetration Analysis depends upon two mechanisms.
- Vulnerability Assessment
- Penetration Testing(VAPT).
What is Penetration Testing
A penetration test is a simulated cyberattack against your computer system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities. For example, penetration testing is commonly used to augment a web application firewall (WAF) in web application security.
For example, the wordpress community has one plugin called wordfence, which helps the wordpress website from simulated cyber attacks.
Penetration testing is the type of Security Testing that uncovers vulnerabilities, threats, risks in a software application, network, or web application that an attacker could exploit.
The purpose of a pen test is to find all the security vulnerabilities present in the system being tested.
What pen-testing involves
Pen testing can include the following things.
- Attempted breaching of any number of application systems (for example, application protocol interfaces (APIs),
- Frontend/backend servers to uncover the vulnerabilities, such as unsanitized inputs that are susceptible to code injection attacks.
Why is Penetration Testing needed?
The primary goal of the pen test is to identify weak doors in an organization’s security posture, measure the compliance of its security policy, test the staff’s awareness of security issues and determine whether and how the organization would be subject to security disasters.
A penetration test can also highlight the weaknesses in the company’s security policies. Although, for instance, security policy focuses on preventing and detecting the attack on an enterprise’s systems, that policy may not include the process to expel the hacker.
Penetration is essential in the data-driven company because –
- Financial sectors like Banks, Stock Exchanges, Defence agencies want their data to be secured, and penetration testing is necessary to ensure security
- If the software system is already hacked, the company seeks to discover whether any threats are still present in a system to avoid future hacks.
- Proactive Penetration Testing is the best safeguard against hackers.
- Big data companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft need their customer’s data secure, and to prevent any hacks and protect their user’s data, penetration testing is required.
How often you should perform Testing
Companies should perform pen-testing regularly, ideally, once a year to ensure consistent network security and IT management. In addition to conducting the regulatory-mandated analysis and assessments, penetration tests may also be run whenever an organization face the following scenarios.
- It adds new network infrastructure or applications.
- It makes significant upgrades or modifications to its applications or infrastructure.
- It establishes offices in new locations.
- It applies security patches.
- It modifies the end-user policies.
However, because penetration testing is not one-size-fits-all, when the company should engage in pen testing also depends on several other factors, including:
- The size of the company. Companies with a more significant presence online have more attack vectors and, therefore, are more-attractive targets for hackers.
- Penetration tests can be costly, so the company with a smaller budget might not be able to conduct them annually. For example, an organization with a more modest budget might only be able to perform a penetration test once every two years. In contrast, a company with a larger budget can do penetration testing once a year.
- Regulations and compliance. Organizations in specific industries are required by law to perform certain security tasks, including pen-testing.
- A company whose infrastructure is in the cloud might not be allowed to test the cloud provider’s infrastructure. For example, if you have hosted your app on AWS. However, the provider may be conducting the pen tests on its infrastructure.
Types of Penetration Testing:
The selection of Penetration tests usually relies on the scope and whether the company wants to simulate the attack by an employee, Network Admin (Internal Sources), or External Sources.
There are three types of Penetration testing which are the following.
- Black Box Testing
- White Box Testing
- Grey Box Testing
Black box testing
In black-box penetration testing, a tester does not know the systems to be tested. Instead, he is responsible for collecting information about the target network or system.
In the white-box penetration testing, the tester is usually provided with a to z information about the network or systems to be tested, including the IP address schema, source code, Operating System details, etc. This can be considered the simulation of the attack by any Internal sources (Employees of the Organization).
Grey Box testing
In the grey box penetration testing, a tester is provided partial knowledge of the system. It can be considered an attack by an external hacker who had gained unauthorized access to an organization’s network infrastructure documents.
Penetration test strategies
You must define the scope within which the pen testers must operate. Usually, the scope identifies what systems, locations, techniques, and tools can be used in a penetration test.
Limiting the scope of the penetration test helps focus the team members and defenders on the systems over which the company has control.
See the following strategies.
It is performed by the company’s IT team and the penetration testing team working together. It’s sometimes referred to as the “lights turned on” approach because everyone can see the test being carried out.
It targets the organization’s externally visible servers or devices, including the domain name servers, email servers, web servers, or firewalls. The objective is to find out if the outside attacker can get in and how far they can get in once they’ve gained complete access.
It mimics an inside attack by the authorized user with standard access privileges behind the firewall. Internal Testing helps estimate how much damage a disgruntled employee could cause.
It simulates the actions and procedures of a real attacker by severely limiting the information given to the person or team performing the test beforehand. For example, the pen testers may only be given the company’s name. Because this type of test can require considerable time for a survey, it can be expensive.
It takes the blind test and carries it a step further. In this type of pen test, only one or two people within the organization might be aware a test is being conducted. Double-blind tests can help test an organization’s security monitoring and incident identification and its response procedures.
How to do Penetration Testing
Step 1) Planning phase
- The scope and strategy of the assignment are defined.
- Existing security policies, standards are used for defining the scope.
Step 2) Discovery phase.
- Collect as much data as possible about the system, including data in the system, usernames, and even passwords. This is also called FINGERPRINTING.
- Scan and Probe into the ports.
- Check for vulnerabilities of the system.
Step 3) Attack Phase
- Find exploits for various vulnerabilities. You need the necessary security Privileges to exploit the system.
Step 4) Reporting Phase
- The report must contain detailed findings.
- It contains risks of vulnerabilities found and their Impact on business.
- The report contains recommendations and solutions if any.
The prime task in penetration testing is to gather the system information. There are two ways to collect information.
- ‘One to one or ‘one to many models concerning host: The tester performs techniques in a linear way against either one target host or a logical grouping of target hosts (e.g., a subnet).
- ‘Many to one’ or ‘many to many’ model: The tester utilizes multiple hosts to execute information gathering techniques in a random, rate-limited, and non-linear.
Manual Penetration vs. Automated Penetration Testing
|Manual Penetration Testing||Automated Penetration Testing|
|Manual Testing requires expert professionals to run those tests.||Automated test tools provide clear reports with less experienced professionals.|
|Manual Testing requires MS Excel and other tools to track it.||Automation Testing has centralized and standard tools.|
|The result of Manual Testing varies from test to test.||The result of Automated Tests does not vary from test to test. It stays the same.|
|Users should remember memory Cleaning up.||Automated Testing will have comprehensive cleanups.|
In penetration testing, testers should act like the real hacker and test the application or system and needs to check whether the code is securely written. A penetration test will be helpful if there is a well-implemented security policy.
Penetration testing policy and methodology should be a place to make penetration testing more effective and efficient.
That’s it for this tutorial.