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A Penetration Test, otherwise known as a white-box contest, black-box pentest, or pen-in-glass penetration test, is an officially sanctioned simulated cyber attack on a particular system, performed with the sole aim of testing the system’s security. Not to be mistaken with a vulnerability scan. A Penetration Test can be executed without the knowledge of the software developer, to determine the security levels of a system. The penetration tester’s goal is to find the weakest and vulnerable points on your network, so they can be fortified. As well as determining if the software was intentionally or unintentionally compromised, the Penetration Testing test also helps your team gain a deeper understanding of your company’s business, its people, their thinking processes, as well as any business initiatives.

Functional Testing The primary objective of functional testing is to gain an understanding of how IT Security Management Teams determines what security controls are needed in an environment. The tests performed on these functional controls aid in the identification of weaknesses in existing security controls to ensure that new security controls are effective and maintain current business value. However, these tests do not identify vulnerabilities in the systems themselves. These tests are typically conducted against well-guarded applications or against hypothetical threats.

Define Penetration Testing A Penetration Test is carried out to test the security of an organisation’s internal infrastructure, network and application, performing functions such as denial of service attacks, directory attacks, buffer overflows, phishing, embedded application attacks, buffer overruns, remote code execution and security vulnerability surveys. These tests are conducted to demonstrate the vulnerability of an organisation’s infrastructure and software to security threats and to gain an understanding of how organisations work around the clock to mitigate risks and defend against security threats. These tests demonstrate the vulnerability of the internal networking infrastructure to attack and identify specific areas of weakness within the organisation’s firewall implementation. By using both automated and manual penetration testing methods and techniques, a Penetration Test Team is able to gain an accurate picture of how the organisation’s security is compromised, which enables them to define controls and procedures to strengthen the organisation’s firewall and gain full assurance that it is conducting efficient Customer Service Management (CSM) practices. In order to successfully conduct a Penetration Test, a Security Management Team must first understand the organisation’s IT Infrastructure and how it functions.

Methods of Testing A penetration testing team deploys a range of methods to conduct targeted attacks and security assessments on a corporate environment. The most common methods deployed are automated and manual testing methods, with each differing in complexity and sophistication. A penetration testing team may decide to use a combination of both methods to assess the most critical parts of an organisation’s infrastructure. Manual tests typically involve a manual scanning of the files and directories of a corporate environment. Examples of manual testing methods include: directory traversal, file search, symbolic file search and denial of service examinations. Automated methods typically include: network scans, software reverse engineering, application checks, and database injections.

Define Penetration Testing

Security Assurance Measurements To gain maximum advantage from penetration testing, a Security Management Team conducts controlled testing campaigns to pinpoint weak spots and identify any vulnerabilities. Security assessments involve obtaining a physical or logical access to a website or network and performing a series of targeted attacks. The objectives of the Security Assurance Measurements (SAM) process include gaining assurance that a business’s current security posture and plans are effective and can be used as an effective baseline for future requirements. Each Security Assessment is designed to gather data that is relevant to the overall success of an organisation’s security program. Examples of these data collection processes include:

Internal Vulnerability Assessment Testing To ensure that there are no potential internal vulnerabilities within your organisation, you should regularly carry out internal vulnerability assessment testing. When carried out, these assessments identify vulnerabilities in processes or applications that have not been addressed by your application safeguards and controls. Internal vulnerability assessment testing includes a detailed look at the application safeguards and controls, as well as any controls that are associated with end-user training, such as:

Penetration Testing A Penetration Test Team will typically comprise several members who are trained to perform vulnerability discovery, testing and validation. The role of a Penetration Test Team includes penetration testing to determine the presence and/or degree of a threat, vulnerability definition, vulnerability proofing and validation, and risk management. Some Penetration Testing Teams will conduct an on site vulnerability assessment and a remote desktop investigation after their initial detection and assessment to minimise false positive results and expensive re-testing. Many organisations also perform Penetration Test Team meetings, where members of the testing team can exchange notes and discuss strategies for testing and vulnerability finding to improve service and product quality. A Penetration Test Team is often involved in the process of vulnerability identification, vulnerability management, and source discovery.

The selection of a Penetration Testing Company should be done carefully, based on their experience and their ability to deliver a high quality outcome with cost savings. A high quality Penetration Testing Service can help the organisation to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year by identifying and mitigating security issues before customers are affected, while also helping to protect against security threats through on-site or remote testing and validation. A highly skilled and maintained Testing & Development team may be required to execute daily on site or remote testing.

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