A cybersecurity penetration test, also known as a penetration test or “pentest”, is a process used to assess the security of a computer system, network or web application by simulating a hacker attack. The purpose of this test is to uncover security weaknesses and provide recommendations for fixing them.
Through this article we will see why penetration testing is a must for your organization, but also the different types of penetration testing and how they work!
1. Why do a penetration test
Penetration testers often use a combination of manual and automated techniques to discover vulnerabilities. They may use port scanning tools, concrete enumeration tools, brute force testing tools, and password cracking tools, among others. In short, they attempt an intrusion, as a hacker would.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, penetration testers write a report detailing their findings and providing recommendations for correcting security issues. The report should include an assessment of the severity of the vulnerabilities, as well as detailed instructions on how to fix them.
2. What are the different types of penetration testing
There are 2 types of intrusion tests, which vary according to the level of access to the system.
External penetration test
The external penetration test simulates a hacker attack that tries to access the computer system, network or web application from the Internet. The purpose of this test is to determine if a hacker would be able to break into and infiltrate the system using common hacking techniques.
External penetration testing focuses on vulnerabilities that are accessible from the Internet, such as open ports on a server, security holes in web applications, or weak passwords. The penetration tester uses different techniques to try to find and exploit these vulnerabilities.
Internal Penetration Test
The internal penetration test simulates a hacker attack that has already gained access to the organization’s internal network. The purpose of this test is to determine if a hacker who has already gained access to the internal network would be able to move around and infiltrate other parts of the computer system.
Internal penetration testing focuses on vulnerabilities that are accessible from inside the network, such as security flaws in internal applications, weak passwords or unauthorized access to data servers. The penetration tester uses different techniques to try to find and exploit these vulnerabilities.
3. The different types of penetration test
There are three types of penetration tests: the black box penetration test, the gray box penetration test and the white box penetration test. These types of tests differ based on the level of knowledge penetration testers have of the system or application before beginning the test.
Black box penetration testing is similar to an actual hacker attack, where penetration testers have little or no information about the system or application before beginning the test. They attempt to enter the system as if they were a hacker, using common hacking tools and techniques. Black box penetration testers do not have access to source codes or authentication details.
This method requires more effort from the team in charge of the penetration test considering the discovery and research phase.
The gray box penetration test is a combination of the black box and white box penetration test. Penetration testers have partial knowledge of the system or application before starting the test, but not all of the details. This hybrid approach imposes a good effort on the team in charge of the intrusion test considering the portion of discovery and research.
The white box penetration test, on the other hand, involves a complete and detailed knowledge of the system or application before starting the test. Penetration testers have access to the source codes and all the architectural details of the application. This type of testing helps find application- or system-specific vulnerabilities that might not be detected in gray-box or black-box penetration testing. This approach is efficient and effort-optimized for the team in charge of the penetration test.
In conclusion, the choice of the type of penetration test depends on the objectives of the organization and its security needs. Black box penetration testing can help determine vulnerabilities that would be exploited by an external attacker, while gray box penetration testing provides a more complete view of the system. White box penetration testing is more detailed and helps uncover application- or system-specific vulnerabilities.
Penetration tests are essential tools to assess the security of your computer system, network or web application. Whether it is a black box, gray box or white box penetration test, each method has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the level of information given to the testers.
External, internal or collaborative penetration testing can detect vulnerabilities in your system before a hacker exploits them. By being proactive, you can take the necessary steps to remediate vulnerabilities and strengthen the security of your system. In short, do not wait for a hacker to successfully penetrate your system to act, be proactive and protect your organization from cyberattacks.
If you want to learn more about penetration testing, contact our experts to discuss your needs and concerns.