Penetration testing is a part of security testing and is used to determine the sensitivity of a system or application. The purpose of this test is to obtain all possible security vulnerabilities in the system. Vulnerabilities refer to the risk of an intruder compromising the system or its data or gaining unauthorized access. This is also known as pen test or pen testing.
Vulnerabilities generally occur randomly. Common vulnerabilities include design flaws, configuration errors, programming errors, etc. The moments when vulnerabilities are applied include:
- During program development.
- During program implementation.
- During program software configuration.
- During the implementation of new infrastructure.
- Configuring network components.
Why Penetration Tests?
Conducting penetration tests is essential for an organization to mitigate or at least limit the damage from potential breaches for various reasons:
- Industries like banks, insurers, and financial institutions require data security. Penetration testing is crucial for ensuring security.
- When a system has already been hacked, the same measures are taken for a second time. The organization wants to determine if these measures are effective and if there are still vulnerabilities in the system. The goal is to prevent future threats.
- Proactive penetration testing. Regular pen testing is the best defense against hackers.
Types of Penetration Tests
The type of penetration test conducted usually depends on what kind of attack the organization wants to simulate. There are three types of penetration tests:
- Black Box Testing.
- White Box Penetration Testing.
- Gray Box Penetration Testing.
In Black Box penetration testing, the test device has no information about the systems to be tested. It is responsible for gathering information about the network or system.
In White Box penetration testing, the test device provides complete information about the network or systems to be tested:
- IP address schema.
- Source code.
- OS information.
It can be considered as a simulation of an attack from internal sources (organization's employees).
In Gray Box penetration testing, the test device provides partial information about the system. It is evaluated as an unauthorized entry into the organization's network infrastructure documents by a third-party hacker.
Penetration Testing Process:
The activities to be carried out to conduct penetration testing are as follows -
- Planning Phase
- Scope and Strategy are determined.
- Existing security policies and standards are used to determine the volume.
- Research Phase
- Gather as much information about the system as possible, including information about the system, user names, and even passwords.
- Scan and probe on ports.
- Check for vulnerabilities in the system.
- Attack Phase
- Exploit various vulnerabilities. You must have the necessary privileges for the system to function.
- Reporting Phase
- The report should provide detailed information.
- Identify the risks of vulnerabilities found and their impact on the organization.
- Recommendations and solutions.
The main task in penetration testing is to collect system information. There are two ways to collect information:
- Host-centric or one-to-one model. The tester employs direct methods against a target host or a logical group of target hosts (e.g., a subnet) in a straightforward manner.
- 'Many-to-one' or 'one-to-many' model. The tester uses multiple host computers to perform information gathering techniques independently, rapidly, and in a non-linear manner.
Penetration Testing Tools:
There are a wide range of tools used in penetration testing. Important tools include:
- NMap - Used for port scanning, OS identification, trace routing, and vulnerability scanning.
- Nessus - The traditional network-based vulnerability tool.
- Pass-The-Hash - Primarily used for password cracking.
- Cain and Abel - Used for password recovery, network sniffing, fuzzing, and VoIP.
Roles and Responsibilities of Penetration Testing:
The responsibilities of penetration testing include:
- Gathering information from the organization required for conducting penetration tests.
- Identifying vulnerabilities that may allow hackers to attack the target system.
- Thinking and acting like real hackers but behaving ethically.
- Repeatable findings of penetration testing devices, so that developers can easily fix them.
- The start date and end date for the test must be determined in advance.
- Penetration testers are responsible for any damage to the system or data resulting from the test.
- Testers should treat information and data confidentially.
Manipulation Against Automated Penetration Testing
|Manual Penetration Testing
|Automated Penetration Testing
|Manual testing requires specialized experts to conduct tests.
|Automated tests provide accurate information even with less experienced professionals.
|Manual testing requires tools like Excel to record findings.
|Automated tests use standardized tools.
|Results in manual tests may vary from test to test.
|Results in automated tests do not vary from test to test.
Limitations of Penetration Testing
Penetration testing cannot discover all vulnerabilities in a system. There are limitations due to time, budget, scope, and penetration capabilities.
Penetration tests can have serious consequences:
- Loss or compromise of data.
- Additional time.
- Increased costs.
Penetration testing must:
- Act as a real hacker.
- Test for vulnerabilities.
- Verify secure code.
- Verify system parameters.
Penetration testing is only logical when there is a well-implemented security policy. To make penetration testing more effective, penetration testing policies and methodologies should be applied.