Penetration testing, also known as Pen Testing, is a process for testing security weaknesses or vulnerabilities in a system, an application, or network and checking the possibility of our network, system or applications being hacked.
Let me give you an example to help you understand this concept quickly. Imagine you are the bank manager. You are aware that people enter the bank’s main entrance. You may not be aware of all the vulnerabilities that a thief could use to gain entry, such as windows or other ways that we might not consider. To ensure you are fully protected, you can hire a professional to act as a thief to break into your bank and reveal the vulnerable entry points. The professional will then advise the owner on how to install CCTV cameras at strategic locations within the bank.
As in the previous example, we might not consider vulnerabilities in your applications or systems as weaknesses. Organizations hire a pen tester to hack into their applications. The PenTester will advise the organization to fix any vulnerabilities he discovered so that hackers or attackers cannot access your applications. The Pen Tester then checks if the system has been secured by performing final checks after he has fixed the vulnerabilities.
Types of pen-testing:
There are three types of penetration testing available:
Black box testing: In Black Box testing, the tester is not allowed to see any internal code structures. Black box testing: The tester cannot access any internal code structure.
Black box testers test the functionality of the application based on customer specifications and requirements. Black-box testing is not required for testers to have programming knowledge.
White box testing: Also known as Glass Box testing or White Box testing, White Box testing is used to verify the internal structure of the code. Black Box testing is completely different from White Box testing. White Box testing can be done to:
Every module of the code should be checked at least once
Evaluate all logical decisions and check if they are true or false.
All loops in the program should be evaluated
To confirm the validity of every internal data structure, you should evaluate it.
Programming skills are a must to be able to test white boxes.
Gray Box Testing: Gray Box Testing is a combination test of White Box and Black Box. Gray Box testers have limited access to the code’s internal structure.
Gray Box Testing is used in the following situations:
While testing the websites
To ensure that there is good communication between testers and developers
Gray box testing cannot be done while we are testing algorithms.
How often should organizations conduct pen tests:
Like all other IT security measures and penetration testing, it should be done regularly. Pen testing should be performed at least once a year, even though some internal pen-testing is necessary. The type of test and its purpose will determine the frequency. This will help in the continuous management IT and network security by identifying new threats and developing vulnerabilities that attackers might exploit.
There are a few reasons why an organization might need to conduct penetration testing:
Cost-effective: Pen testing is much cheaper than recovering and redeeming data after an attack. We do have to spend some money on technology and tools such as vulnerability scanners and dynamic application security scanners. However, tools and technologies are much cheaper than recovering data.
Manage Risk: This phase is crucial to prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your program and exploiting it.