Beginner’s Guide to Penetration Testing Methodologies

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When it comes to assessing your cyber security strategies, you must think from the perspective of a hacker. That is what exactly penetration testing does. If conducted accurately, Penetration Testing gives you valuable insights into the strength and weaknesses of your company’s Security Posture.

 

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a simulated attack; that helps to identify the type of resources exposed to the outer world, the network security risk involved in it, the possible types of attacks and the prevention of these attacks. Hence, a professional penetration testing service is invaluable for every organization to assess how a malicious user can gain unauthorized access to your security assets.

 

Penetration Testing Methodologies

  1. Planning: Planning is the first phase in Penetration testing. In this phase, the scope and goals of the process are defined. The testing methods are identified, and information related to the network infrastructure is gathered.

 

  1. Network Discovery: In this phase, network mapping of the internal or publicly exposed IP addresses will be done to identify information such as Active Hosts, Active Services, Insecure Services, Fingerprinting the Operating System and Services, etc.

 

  1. Public Information Assessment: In this phase, testers will identify the public information about the client in systems that are under the scope of services. The results of this assessment will be useful for identifying the potential vulnerabilities related to the systems. Public information assessment includes DNS records assessment, Google search results (Google Hacking), etc.

 

  1. Vulnerability Assessment: In this phase, automated vulnerability scanners will be used to detect and verify the known vulnerabilities, misconfigured systems and outdated software. The results of the vulnerability scanning will be manually verified to ensure that all false positives are eliminated.

 

  1. Attack, Exploitation and Privilege Escalation: Based on the outcome of the previous phases, the analysts perform threat modelling where each vulnerability is studied carefully and plan attacks that will exploit all exploitable vulnerabilities, simulating the potential impact of an attack. Privilege escalation will be performed as part of the exploitation process.

 

  1. Remedial Action Identification: Remedial action is the guideline given to address the identified deficiency. In this phase, security analysts prepare the remedial actions for the threats and vulnerabilities discovered in the previous phases.

 

  1. Reporting: Technical findings will be written up into a formal report consisting of an Executive summary highlighting business risks, and a detailed technical report containing the description of vulnerabilities found, their severity, ranking and recommendation for remediation.

 

  1. Re-testing: In the last phase of testing, a retest on the scoped environment is performed to verify the effectiveness of the remediation measures taken by the client, post recommendations. In the testing process, this is a very important step that helps ensure the closure of all discovered vulnerabilities.

 

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