If you work in an organization that has a data center or any other network infrastructure, you might have to perform penetration testing. This is usually the process of attempting to gain access, for purposes of security and maintenance, into a system that does not usually allow it, such as an email server’s administration panel or foreign government command line. However, even if your organization doesn’t have this need, many of us still find our way into these systems as part of our day-to-day internet activities.
From personal emails and various social media accounts to password reset pages and even bank account websites and payment gateways – there are all sorts of systems that we use regularly that are vulnerable. As a result, you must understand penetration testing techniques to prevent future threats against your organization. Furthermore, prefer going with a penetration testing company with professional experience.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing evaluates the security of an organization’s computer systems by simulating attacks against them. These attacks can be conducted using various methods, including automated tools and manual techniques.
By identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems, penetration testers can help to identify and fix security issues before they become exploited. Penetration testing can be used to evaluate the security of web applications, network devices, and other systems.
When performing a penetration test, it is essential to remember that not every system is equal. Systems that are not connected to the internet or those that are heavily protected may not be as vulnerable as online and exposed systems. Additionally, penetration tests should be tailored to the organization’s specific needs.
Stages Of Penetration Testing
Penetration testing has a clearly defined procedure that has been logically divided into five stages to get the optimum results. Let us take a closer look at each of them:
Reconnaissance is the first phase of penetration testing. It entails scouting the target environment for vulnerabilities. This can be done manually by reviewing publicly available information or using automated tools such as Nmap and Spiderfoot.
Collecting as much information about your target as possible during reconnaissance is essential. This includes identifying its network topology, assessing its security controls, and gathering any sensitive data that may be present. You should also research the target’s software and hardware vendors to see if there are any known vulnerabilities in their products.
Once you have gathered all the information you need, it is time to develop your attack plan. This will involve determining which vulnerabilities you want to exploit, understanding the victim’s environment, and developing a strategy to exploit them.
Scanning is carried out to provide insight into how an application will react to different threats. This is typically done using a combination of automated and manual methods.
Automated methods of scanning include using static analysis tools to identify known malicious files or scripts. In contrast, manual methods involve looking at the code itself for any clues as to how the application might be vulnerable. By understanding how the application responds to various attacks, security teams can better defend against them.
3. Vulnerability Assessment
Thirdly, the tester investigates potential vulnerabilities and determines whether they can be exploited using the information collected during reconnaissance and scanning. This can include searching for known vulnerabilities, testing for common exploits, and reviewing security policies and procedures.
The tester will also try to determine whether any of these vulnerabilities could be exploited to gain access to sensitive data or systems. Once the severity of each vulnerability has been determined, the tester will then attempt to exploit them to see if they are actually exploitable.
During this penetration testing phase, a tester exploits vulnerabilities discovered in the target system. Once access is gained, the tester can probe for sensitive data or exploit previously identified security flaws to gain further access or privilege escalation. This stage is often tricky because firewalls and other security measures protect many systems. However, with the correct tools and techniques, it is possible to bypass these defenses and gain access to systems on which sensitive information is stored.
The penetration tester’s final report is the culmination of their hard work. After completing the exploitation phase of the test, they produce a detailed report documenting all their findings. This report can be used to fix vulnerabilities that were found during the test. The penetration tester also considers any feedback they received from the business or management during the test. This feedback can help them improve their methods in future tests.
Our journey through these stages teaches us the importance of choosing the right penetration testing vendor. So do your research and pick up penetration testing services wisely.
Top 5 Advanced Penetration Techniques
Penetration testers may spend up to 40 hours of their workday just planning, preparing, and executing their tasks. Luckily, these professionals can use a variety of tools and advance techniques that help them reduce time spent in planning and repetitive tasks, so they have more time for demanding tasks such as testing.
Here are five advanced penetration testing techniques every QA professional should know.
1. Blind Test
Imagine you are a security officer for an organization with its own internal application. You have been told that your business is one of the candidates for a client’s upcoming application assault. What precautions would you take to ensure everything is safe from the attack? One way to do this is by conducting a blind test.
Blind testing is a process where testers are not given any specific information about the application they are testing other than the name of organization they are aiming for. Using it, security personnel can get a realistic idea of what it is like to experience an application attack.
One of the most common uses for blind testing is during the development phase of an application. During this phase, it is vital to test various scenarios and see how the application responds. However, it is also important to keep secret which scenario was tested and which wasn’t. This way, if a bug is discovered in one of the tests, it can be fixed without worrying about revealing confidential information.
Blind testing can also be used during the security assessment phase. By not knowing which applications are being tested, security personnel can get a more realistic picture of an attack unfolding. This allows them to make better decisions about protecting the enterprise against potential attacks.
Overall, blind testing is an essential part of any development or security process. It allows developers and security personnel to test their applications in a safe and secure environment without fear of revealing confidential information.
2. Double-Blind Test
Double-blind tests do not reveal the actual attack to the security personnel. Defenses won’t have time to be bolstered before an attack. This type of test results can help organizations determine how well their security measures are working and which needs improvement. It can also help identify potential weaknesses in the security system and point out areas where training or reinforcement may be necessary.
To simulate an attack, researchers create a digitally signed executable file that looks like it was from one of their known virus families. This file then is further sent to a group of unsuspecting security analysts and asked to investigate and determine whether or not it is dangerous.
By learning about attacks beforehand, security personnel can better prepare themselves for when something does actually happen.
3. Black-Box Testing
Black-Box testing aims at an organization’s assets that are perceptible to the public online. An attacker can exploit a vulnerability to gain access to your data or systems by exploiting these assets.
One common attack vector used in external penetration tests is reconnaissance: attackers use tools such as Google Street View or Bing Maps to map out the layout of the target’s buildings and look for vulnerable points that could be exploited later on.
They may also scout out potential targets by using information leaked from previous attacks, such as passwords or user names. Once attackers have identified potential targets, they will try to exploit any vulnerabilities they find.
Some of the most common attacks used in external penetration tests include SQL injections, buffer overflows, and cross-site scripting. Attackers can gain access to sensitive data or systems by attacking these vulnerabilities.
External penetration tests or Black Box testing are essential to ensure that your team assets are protected from attack. By testing for vulnerabilities and exploiting them if necessary, testers can identify and fix any security issues before an attacker can exploit them.
4. White-Box Testing
White-box testing allows developers to understand how an application behaves under normal conditions and when it’s subjected to unexpected or malicious behavior. This information can be used to fix problems before they become widespread and protect users from potential security threats.
There are several different tools and techniques that can be used for white-box testing. One popular approach is functional testing, which tests an application’s functionality by executing specific commands or scripts inside the application.
Another common technique is error detection and reporting, which monitors the application for strange or unexpected behavior and alerts developers when something goes wrong.
Also Read – Security Testing vs. Penetration Testing
5. Gray-Box Testing
A gray-box test is an innovative way to assess your security posture of the IT infrastructure. It allows testers to mimic realistic attacks while also providing flexibility and control over the environment and data. This type of testing is often used to evaluate an organization’s security posture before implementing more invasive techniques.
Gray-box testing is often less intrusive than traditional tests and can be used to assess a wide range of security features and vulnerabilities. This kind of testing is generally performed using a variety of tools and techniques. Some standard tools include web browsers, network probes, vulnerability scanners, and intrusion detection systems (IDSs). Gray-box tests can be executed on either live systems or simulated systems.
To Wrap Up!
With continuous updates to software and hardware, security teams must be on their toes. As a quality assurance professional, it is your job to protect the assets by testing the software and applications that are released to the public. However, this doesn’t mean you should blindly trust any software that comes across your desk. In fact, there are some advanced penetration testing techniques that you should be familiar with to uncover any security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
Understanding these techniques ensures that your organization remains secure while letting customers access your products and services. Therefore, make sure you check out the above-mentioned penetration techniques to see how they can help secure your business.