Understanding the Process: A Guide to Penetration Testing Phases
Penetration testing, also referred to as “pen testing” or “ethical hacking,” is a technique for assessing a computer system’s, network’s, or web application’s security by simulating an attack from a malicious hacker. Penetration testing’s objective is to find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit and rank them according to the risk they pose. It is a crucial security measure that aids organisations in locating and correcting system flaws before attackers can take advantage of them.Security experts who have the knowledge and resources to test a system’s security do so usually in a safe and efficient manner. Penetration testing usually entails a number of steps, including reconnaissance, scanning, accessing, keeping access, erasing footprints, and reporting.
White box and black box testing are the two main categories of penetration testing. When conducting white box testing, the tester is completely familiar with the architecture, source code, and configuration of the target system. Black box testing requires the tester to conduct the test using only publicly available data because they have no prior knowledge of the target system.
Black box testing is used to evaluate the security of systems with an external interface, such as web applications or internet-connected devices, while white box testing is frequently used to evaluate the security of internally developed applications or internal networks.
Internal and external testing are the two main divisions of penetration testing. While external testing simulates an attack from outside the organisation, internal testing simulates an attack from an insider, such as an employee or contractor.
To ensure that new vulnerabilities are found and fixed, penetration testing is a continuous process that must be updated and repeated frequently. It’s a crucial security measure that aids businesses in locating and correcting system flaws before attackers can take advantage of them.
It’s crucial to remember that only security experts with experience and certification who are familiar with the instruments and methods employed in ethical hacking should conduct penetration tests. The system owner should have given the testers permission before they conduct the test, and they should be aware of the ethical and legal ramifications of their actions.
Phases of Penetration Testing:
Reconnaissance: In the first stage of the test, the tester learns as much as they can about the intended system, network, or application. Things like IP addresses, open ports, and active services may fall under this category. The tester can gather this data using a variety of tools, including port scanners, vulnerability scanners, and search engines. In order to learn more about the target company, the tester can also use publicly accessible information like company websites, social media profiles, and job postings. The purpose of reconnaissance is to learn more about the target system and find any potential weak points.
Scanning: The tester will use specialised tools to scan the system for vulnerabilities after gathering information on the target. Network scanners, vulnerability scanners, and web application scanners are a few examples of this. These tools will be used by the tester to find open ports, active services, and known security flaws. These tools will be used by the tester to find any configuration errors or weak points in the target system.
Gaining access: The tester will attempt to exploit vulnerabilities once they have been found in order to gain access to the system. This can involve using brute-force attacks, SQL injection, and software vulnerabilities that are already known to exist. The tester will access the target system using a variety of tools and methods. The tester will attempt to increase their privileges once they have access in order to access sensitive information or other restricted areas of the system.
Maintaining access: The tester will make an effort to keep access to the system after gaining it by building backdoors or using other persistence techniques. The tester will employ a number of strategies to establish persistence on the target system, including adding new users, changing system settings, or adding malware.
Clearing tracks: After that, the tester will erase all traces of the test, including system and log files, to make sure the target is unaware of it. The tester will use a variety of methods, such as wiping log files or deleting temporary files, to erase any evidence of their activity on the target system.
Reporting: After the test is finished, the tester will write a report outlining the vulnerabilities found, how they were exploited, and suggestions for fixing them. A thorough description of the target system, including information gathered during reconnaissance, vulnerabilities found during scanning, and the actions taken to exploit them, will be included in the report. Additionally, the report will make suggestions for corrective action, such as software updates, configuration modifications, and security best practises.
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