Penetration Testing: Methods and Types

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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.

 

When to go for Penetration Testing Services?

Penetration testing is a critical security measure that needs to be performed regularly to ensure the safety of your organizational information. It is not a one-time activity and has to be done regularly depending on the size of the organization, network infrastructure and regulatory compliance.

Additionally, it is recommended to do Penetration testing,

  • When significant changes are made to the infrastructure
  • When a new network infrastructure is added
  • When you relocate your office, or a new office is added to the network

 

Different Penetration Testing Methods

 

  • Black Box Penetration Testing

This test is carried out with zero knowledge about the network. The tester will not have access to any of the client’s applications, network and internal information. This is the most authentic testing, which is done to demonstrate how a hacker with no inside knowledge of the organization can compromise your organization’s cyber security. Here, the tester may use the publicly available information over the internet or can acquire knowledge using penetration testing tools or social engineering techniques.

 

  • White Box Penetration Testing

This test is called complete knowledge testing and is used to check the robustness of the network in a specific environment, where the security information cannot be strictly controlled. The aim of this test is to ensure that the system can withstand security threats, even when the hacker has access to some of the security information. Testers are given full information about the target infrastructure like the host IP address, domains owned, applications used, network diagrams, security defences like IPs or IDs in the network, etc.

 

  • Gray Box Penetration Testing

This test is performed with limited or partial knowledge of the network’s security information. The tester simulates an employee inside the organization, usually with the help of their login credentials or the tester is given an account on the internal network with standard access. The aim of this test is to assess the internal threats from employees within the company and the potential damage they could cause.

 

Different Types of Penetration Testing

 

  • External Penetration Test

This Penetration test simulates a hacker’s attempt to enter and exploit the vulnerabilities in real-time within the network. The tester tries to enter the network by leveraging the information acquired from the external network. The aim of this test is to understand the security holes in your system. As the threat is from an external network within the internet, the test is performed over the internet, bypassing the firewall.

 

  • Internal Penetration Test

This penetration test identifies the risks that arise from within the network, assuming that the attacker already has access. The tester evaluates the damage that can be done by someone who has access to the organizational applications, data and systems. This can be anyone like employees, contractors, partners, etc. or outside hacker who has gained some credentials of the employee. The test is performed by connecting to the internal LAN and thereby trying to explore the vulnerabilities that exist.

 

  • Segmentation Testing

Network Segmentation is the process of splitting a larger network into smaller subnetworks according to your business requirements. These subnetworks act as individual networks, thereby helping to improve network performance and security. Segmentation testing is done to evaluate these individual networks and separate the less-secure subnetworks from the high-secure subnetworks, thus ensuring that the communication between these is restricted.

 

  • Mobile Penetration Testing

A mobile application is the best way to engage with your customer and is more than just a mobile-friendly website. An efficient mobile application can increase customer base, improve accessibility, boost brand popularity and enhance revenue. Hence it is important to ensure the security and safety of the application. Mobile Penetration Testing is a type of security testing used to analyze and validate the security controls of your mobile applications. The main aim of this testing is to find how the app interacts with the server-side systems and find security flaws in the application. This helps to uncover the vulnerabilities and exposure threats that the developers might have missed while designing the application.

 

  • Wi-Fi Penetration Testing

Wireless Connectivity, also known as Wi-Fi, is the technology used to connect PCs, Laptops, Mobiles, Tablets and other devices to high-speed internet without the need for a physical wired connection. Due to the open methods used by the Wi-Fi to connect, it often serves as a gateway for hackers and cybercriminals to enter the organizational network. This is where penetration testing serves useful. Wi-Fi Penetration Testing is an authorized hacking attempt, where the tester hacks the wireless system to identify the vulnerabilities in the security controls. The goal of this penetration testing is mainly to reduce security breaches by preventing unauthorized access to the wireless network.

 

  • Thick Client Penetration Testing

Thick Client applications are normal applications with rich functionality that runs on a user’s computer. The most common examples of thick client applications are Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Yahoo Messenger, etc. These are important as most of the business operations are handled by these applications. They depend completely on computer resources and hence their security is dependent on the local computer. Thick client penetration testing tries to exploit the vulnerabilities associated with the application like insecure storage, denial of service, reverse engineering, improper session management, etc.

 

  • API Testing

Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows interaction between two applications. Though APIs are the connector responsible for transferring information internally and externally, they do not go through vigorous security testing. A poorly secured API serves as a gateway for attackers to enter the network. The aim of API Penetration Testing is to maximize the API benefits by identifying the risks and vulnerabilities imposed by them.

 

When it comes to assessing your cybersecurity 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. Also, it is important to find the right type of penetration testing that meets your organization’s cybersecurity needs.

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