Penetration testing otherwise known as pen testing helps in finding out vulnerabilities associated with networks and web applications. The scope and nature of pen test highly depends on the drivers of the Organization, who can influence targeted goals like target selection, scope, assumption etc., and it is done for various reasons.
Example – If the goal is to check the off box, then the Organization has to run the pen test to meet with the compliance requirements/ scope and allocate funding that can be controlled in an efficient manner. Also, the organization wants to protect its intellectual property rights from skilled attackers and so budget should be allocated for a more thorough test.
The process of pen testing helps in gaining access to resources without the knowledge of user name or password. In order to increase the security mechanism of the computing resources, it tests the privilege or permission from the owner of the computing resource and provides a report. Most pen testers dig the past and iron out various vulnerabilities other than the focused one. But, it is unlikely that a penetration tester will find all the security problems.
Why penetration test is required?
There are many reasons to run a pen test. The first reason being finding out the vulnerabilities and solving them before the attackers exploit the same. Even though we are aware of the gaps, it is important to seek the help of an expert from outside. The second reason is it is a good practice to check the security of the system within short intervals.
1. Find gaps now before somebody else does.
The attackers are always on the lookout for penetrating systems using automated tools and networks. Pen testing protects the network from malicious intent and it identifies vulnerabilities before someone else does the same.
2. Verify secured configurations.
Even if the internal security team is happy with the Pen test report that mentions all is good, an outside entity may give a different opinion. Thus it can measure the efficiency of the internal team. Pen test cannot make the network more secure but it can identify gaps between knowledge and implementation.
3. Security training for networking staff.
Pen testing trains the security staff on how to respond to a network attack. The testing, monitoring and handling teams can be trained for effective responses. The post testing report can be used to identify their incident response skills.
4. Testing the new Technology.
The testing has to be completed before it goes to production. For example, the test on new technologies / applications / environments.
Nmap: It is a popular port scanning tool and the port is typically a part of the reconnaissance phase of a pen test or an attack.
Nessus: It is a most popular vulnerability scanner.