What is Network Penetration Testing and How Can it Help My Business?
Penetration tests have grown in popularity as a method for firms to assess their risks and devise a strategy to strengthen security measures.
Yet, if you’re looking for your first penetration test, you’re likely to be presented with a plethora of different forms of penetration testing, making it tough to determine which service is best for your company.
A network penetration test is one of the most prevalent types of penetration tests. In this essay, we’ll explain what this is, why it’s useful, and what you should think about before purchasing a pen test.
What is Network Penetration Testing?
An ethical hacker, or pen tester, examines a network and identifies vulnerabilities and security flaws that would allow a real bad actor to enter it.
A penetration test, unlike a vulnerability assessment, is predatory in nature, simulating the behaviours of someone intent on causing harm so that a corporation may better address its weak points and enhance its security posture.
Pen testers will employ a number of popular hostile approaches used by hackers to compromise systems, such as malware, phishing, and advanced persistent threats, and will document any vulnerabilities discovered.
There are two techniques to network penetration testing: internal and external. An external pen test will attempt to penetrate the network perimeter in order to uncover any security flaws in internet-facing assets.
An internally focused test, on the other hand, checks the internal firm network for potential dangers such as insider attacks, among others. These tests are designed to simulate a scenario in which a hacker has already gained access to your internal network.
The Benefits of a Network Penetration Testing
An organization can profit much from penetration tests. Most importantly, they enable you to determine whether anything is wrong with your security and what has to be done to remedy it.
Pen testers can inform you how critical a particular vulnerability is, allowing you to priorities your remediation and focus your security measures where they are most needed.
Penetration testing, unlike other security audits, involve the actual exploitation of vulnerabilities, providing a detailed picture of what a hacker would actually do and the damage that would be inflicted. This offers you a better understanding of the value of preventative security measures and the capabilities of threat actors.
Penetration tests can also help you meet industry requirements and laws. For example, network pen tests frequently reveal weaknesses that would prevent you from complying with recognized standards such as Cyber Essentials and ISO 27001.
What’s the Process?
At this point, your pen test provider will determine what you will test and which approaches will be employed. At this stage, the overall purposes and goals of the testing will be laid out, and it will also be decided if white, grey, or black box testing will be undertaken.
- Black Box: This type of pen testing necessitates the pen tester having no internal knowledge of the system or access to it. A black box pen test is intended to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited outside of the network. The pen tester attempts to penetrate the perimeter using scanning tools and procedures. This strategy is the least time-consuming but also the least comprehensive because it does not focus on internal services.
- Grey Box: Grey box pen testers are often familiar with the internal system, which may include coding. Typically, these tests are carried out with credentialed access, so the pen tester has access to the same resources as a regular user. Grey box testing enables for a more concentrated pen test, with more time spent on regions of greatest known risk, resulting in more valuable reporting.
- White Box: The most thorough kind of pen testing, white box methodologies typically give the pen tester access to source code, design documentation, architecture, and so on. These tests are the most time-consuming because the pen tester has access to a large amount of data. White box testing examines both internal and exterior vulnerabilities and is likely to uncover far more than black or grey box tests.
RECONNAISSANCE & DISCOVERY
During this stage, pen testers will need to acquire intelligence and begin to use tools such as port scanners to uncover ways to get access to the network. Based on the information gathered, pen testers will hunt for potential vulnerabilities to exploit.
This is where the majority of the testing will take place. Depending on the vulnerabilities discovered during the Discovery phase, the testers will attempt to exploit them using various approaches to see if any of them can successfully allow them network access. Social engineering, brute force attacks, web application attacks, and SQL injections are examples of techniques. Pen testers want to see how much damage they may potentially create in order to determine how much of an impact an actual assault would have on your firm.
The testers will keep a record of the results of these exploits throughout this step so that they can show you which vulnerabilities pose the biggest risk to your business.
REPORTING & ANALYSIS
The final stage of the process entails analysing the pen test data to determine which vulnerabilities are the most critical and which were successfully exploited to get access to your network.
A good report will include both a technical and a commercial summary, as well as information regarding the risks discovered and the consequences if an attack is successful.
Following that, you should be given remedial advice so that you know exactly what has to be done to solve the vulnerabilities discovered during the pen test. This may entail updating policy and training, installing specific security patches, or upgrading old technology.
Is a Network Penetration Test for Me?
A network penetration test is an effective technique for detecting vulnerabilities and increasing overall organization security; however, the more targeted they can be, the more helpful they tend to be.
Many firms choose a less exploitative all-around vulnerability assessment than a specific penetration test to identify areas of security weakness. Penetration testing can cost several thousand pounds, so be sure you’re investing in one at the proper time.
Some companies may be required to undergo a penetration test for specific tenders, in which case you should definitely look into penetration test providers; however, if you are already concerned about vulnerabilities in your infrastructure, a vulnerability scan is a great place to start to scope these out first! You can then follow up with a deeper, more specialized network pen test.