Penetration Testing

Steps in Penetration Testing

The terms unauthorised access, data theft, information leakage, and data loss are common in news channels. Institutions worldwide are now at risk of cyber attacks and online financial fraud. Most institutions have people’s finance and critical information, which costs millions of dollars. These incidents have made the companies realise the importance of pen testing or penetration testing.

Enhancing the institution’s cybersecurity is now the top priority, and it is now on an equal level to the institution’s physical security. Today, money has become virtual, and information costs more than diamonds, so the thieves are not behind the physical assets anymore; they want the virtual assets. Hence, you need to protect your virtual assets, i.e., the information in your system.

If you hire an agency to perform a pen test on the security wall of your organisation, you will get an idea about your security strength and the loopholes in the system. It is a great way to find the weakness in your protection mechanism and strengthen it to prevent actual attacks. It is a form of ethical hacking, and thousands of companies are hiring people for this testing worldwide.

If you are still not interested in the penetration test, you should read the rest of the article, as it explains the step-by-step process by which the test can analyse and help you strengthen your firewall/security.

Steps in Penetration Testing:

Step 1: Planning and reconnaissance

The first step of pen testing is planning the stimulated attack on the system. The attack is to gain as much information as possible in a limited time. This is probably the most time-consuming phase in the testing. The attack is to get the email IDs, employee information, customer’s account info, etc. 

Step 2: Scanning

The pen testers use scanning tools to search the system and vulnerabilities in the network. This phase analyses all the possible areas where the attack could succeed and get into the deepest levels/barriers of the security system.

The diagnosis of the system and exposing the weak spots will define the success of the next phase/step.

Step 3: Gaining system access

Now that the testers know the system’s vulnerabilities, it’s time to infiltrate and exploit the weakness. This phase will show the management and company IT team the real threat a hacker poses to their system.

Step 4: Persistent access

The hackers don’t stop after breaking in and stealing data, so that the testers will do the same. This step in pen testing identifies the potential effect of a weakness exploited by leveraging access privileges. Once the pen testers have a foothold in the system, they hold simultaneous attacks long enough to replicate malicious hackers’ targets/goals. This step aims to gain the maximum level of network information and understand the level of privilege the pen testers have at the moment.

Step 5: Analysis and reporting

The testers analyse the result of the attacks and the damages they caused. A detailed report on all activities will be given to the management. 

The report will contain the following:

  • The seriousness of the loopholes and weak spots. The vulnerabilities found in the system
  • Tools that can penetrate the system (similar to what the pen testers had)
  • Highlighting the strong areas in the system
  • How to correct the vulnerabilities and how to prevent the future attacks

Penetration testing is necessary for every institution and helps them stay unaffected by all the cyberattacks.

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