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A Quick Guide to Black-Box Penetration Test Approach

A Quick Guide to Black-Box Penetration Test Approach

Insecure software application/system software is one of the biggest threats to businesses in the digital era. More and more applications are falling prey to malicious attacks. Here is where penetration testing offers the right solution for enterprises to discover and fix hidden vulnerabilities in their IT framework. The particular blog navigates through Black-Box Penetration Testing and gives you the best detail about the kind of testing – from a security perspective.

How far do you know about the Black-Box Penetration Test?

Generally, there are three approaches in penetration testing – White-Box, Grey-Box, and Black-Box Penetration Testing. In security testing, all three test approaches have their own specific purpose, benefits, and falls. But you need to know – what test approach best suits your enterprise security requirement.

Imagine your business application getting hooked by malicious users suddenly. There you might wonder – Where did my security fall week? To address the question, you need to find your application security falls before attackers do and in real-world attack scenarios. Here is where Black-Box Security Testing raises its importance as a challenging testing strategy.

Black-Box Penetration Testing is one of the finest testing approaches to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in an application/system software. Here, the pen tester will have zero information about the target before the pen test activity. And behaves the same way as an end-user, where you will be seeing only the target URL. That means the tester has no access to the application codebase, structure, design, or internal data.

“Doesn’t that seem challenging? The same challenge is what the cyber hackers will take!”

When do you rightly require a Black-Box Pen Test?

So, you would be wondering – When do my organization need the specific testing approach?

  • Black-Box Penetration Testing truly fits your requirement when the primary focus is to test the external assets like web apps, networks, firewalls, routers, databases, VPN, and web application servers. The approach gets useful, at times, when you require testing applications without affecting the production cycle of applications.
  • Another rationale behind the testing process is that, with all other approaches, the pen tester gets a prior view of things that are going to get tested. But Black-Box Testing Services run on zero clues similar to the way where an organization gets exploited in real-time by a malicious user. Here, the testers would look keen and never miss out on a vulnerability.
  • It primarily helps identify vulnerabilities such as server misconfigurations, input/output validation issues, and other run-time problems. Having an in-house testing team to address dynamic situations will be a mighty ask for many organizations. There you can partner with an experienced vendor providing Black-Box Penetration Test services.

Techniques used in Black-Box Penetration Test

Next, let’s move to the commonly used black-box penetration testing techniques, one by one.

Fuzzing : – The intention behind the fuzzing technique is to detect unusual program behaviour after the tester injects random or custom-made data, also called noise injection. It can find out missing input checks in the software.

Syntax Testing : – The process checks a system’s data input format. Here, the tester adds inputs that hold missing elements, illegal delimiters (characters marking the beginning and end of data), and other misplaced elements. It can find out syntax deviation if any.

Exploratory Testing : – The testing process goes without having any test plans or idea of the result or outcome. The product of one test feeds and guides the other. In this way, the process helps find a big frame for the identified picture.

Data Analysis : – The process reviews or checks data generated by the target application. The very process helps the analysis of the internal functions of the target.

Test scaffolding : – The process involves leveraging automated tools used for debugging, monitoring, and test management to find critical program behaviours. Test scaffolding technique can help determine those risks that evades manual analysis.

Monitoring program behaviour : – An automated technique used by the tester to help understand how the program responds. In that way, they can conclude the presence of underlying vulnerabilities that yield deviated responses.

How to carry out a Black-box Penetration Test?

A black-box penetration testing approach has 5 phases: –

  • Reconnaissance
  • Scanning & Enumeration
  • Vulnerability discovery
  • Vulnerability exploitation
  • Privilege escalation

1. Reconnaissance

Your pen testing vendor company addresses the question – Do you have enough data to perform the test?

In the Black-Box Pen Testing approach, the tester has zero knowledge other than the target URL. The tester needs to gather preliminary information or intelligence about the target in real-time. It can make the test plans more efficient and accurate. Information fetched might include public email addresses, IP ranges, websites, and other relevant attributes.

2. Scanning & Enumeration

Your pen testing vendor company addresses the question – Is an active connection with the target achieved?

The scanning and enumeration phase involves acquiring more details about connected systems and running applications. Here is where the tester starts to touch the systems, detecting live hosts and open ports. Testers enumerate from here to discover running software, versions, connected systems, user roles, accounts, etc.

3. Vulnerability Discovery

Your pen testing vendor company addresses the question – Have you found the CVEs list (publicly disclosed security flaws)?

The inputs from the above two phases set the right platform in Black-Box Testing to uncover all existing flaws or weak services running in the enterprise application. Here the pen tester discovers the public vulnerabilities in the target system/network. It may include the CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) present in the system, third-party applications used by the target, versions etc.

4. Vulnerability exploitation

Your pen testing vendor company addresses the question – Have you exploited the identified weaknesses?

In the vulnerability exploitation phase, the tester tries to take control over the identified weaknesses and exploit them. The tester might use the available code or a custom one to get control of the identified susceptibility and acquire access to the target vulnerable system. The intention is to reach the system core through the shortest path.

5. Privilege escalation

Your pen testing vendor company addresses the question – Have you got complete access privilege to the root system/database?

The final phase of Black-Box Security Testing involves escalating privilege levels to get complete control of access to the system or database. Initially, the tester might be working on a lower privilege level and then tries to escalate towards higher access levels. The testers try to gain full administrative access to the target machine.

Security benefits of the Black-Box Pen testing Approach

Is Black-Box Security Testing enough to detect all your security weaknesses in the system software/application?

Indeed, it is the favourite subset technique used in security testing. But you may also require other pen-testing approaches and source code review combined to get the maximum output from black-box testing services. Here we enlist the benefits of the Black-Box Testing approach: –

  • Stimulates a real-time hacker exploiting your application/system
  • Uncovering all exposed vulnerabilities in your system
  • High focussed approach to finding flaws in configurations
  • Help detect comprehensive input/output validation errors
  • Help find missing product modules/files
  • Help find security issues connecting people via social engineering
  • A Pocket-friendly approach in contrast to white or grey-box testing

Final Thoughts

As previously stated, “Black-Box Penetration Testing is not a comprehensive solution to application/system security!” A trade-off is happening for each practice/approach in penetration testing engagement. However, it is a speedy procedure, while that’s not the case with white or grey-box security testing. And the best-recommended solution is to execute a security testing strategy from a trusted and experienced vendor like ValueMentor. And here, you get the possibility of merging different approaches to pen-testing engagement that provides the complete threat visibility of your IT environment.