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What Is Penetration Testing? Know Each Step of Pentest

Penetration testing commonly known as pen testing or ethical hacking is the practice of testing a computer system, network or web application with the aim to find security vulnerabilities that an attacker could achieve. Penetration testing can be done with software applications or performed manually. Both the way, the process requires gathering information about the target before the test, identifying possible entry points, attempting to break in — either virtually or for real — and reporting back the findings.

Caption: Identifying the system vulnerability is the primary aim in pentesting

The objective of Penetration Testing

There must be a question in your mind, that why it is necessary to do penetration testing in any system or organisation. Here, you go, the main objective of penetration testing is to identify security weaknesses. Similarly, Penetration testing can also be used to test an organization’s security policy, its adherence to compliance requirements, its employees’ security awareness and the organization’s ability to identify and respond to security incidents.

Pentesting identify weak spots in an organization’s security posture, as well as measure the compliance of its security policy, test the staff’s awareness of security issues and determine whether — and how — the organization would be subject to security disasters.

Furthermore, a penetration test also highlight weaknesses in a company’s security policies. For example, although a security policy focuses on preventing and detecting an attack on an enterprise’s systems, that policy may not include a process to expel a hacker.

Penetration testing methods

Primarily, there are five types of Penetration testing methods. They are:

1. External Testing

External penetration testing targets the assets of a company that are visible on the internet, e.g., the web application itself, the company website, and email and domain name servers (DNS). The primary goal of external testing is to gain access and extract valuable data.

2. Internal Testing

In an internal penetration testing, a tester with access to an application behind its firewall simulates an attack by a malicious insider. A common starting scenario can be an employee whose credentials were stolen due to a phishing attack.

3. Blind Testing

In a blind test, a tester is only given the name of the enterprise that’s being targeted. This gives security personnel a real-time look into how an actual application assault would take place.

4. Double-Blind Testing

In a double blind test, security personnel have no prior knowledge of the simulated attack. As in the real world, they won’t have any time to shore up their defenses before an attempted breach.

5. Targeted Testing

In this scenario, both the tester and security personnel work together and keep each other appraised of their movements. This is a valuable training exercise that provides a security team with real-time feedback from a hacker’s point of view.

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