Penetration tests are intentional attacks on your IT system, executed to expose the weak spots in your system’s defences, including cross-site scripting, source codes, logic, and network configurations. Penetration tests give experts an understanding of the problems with the technical infrastructures that your company depends on. How often to book a penetration test depends on the size or your organisation, the scale of the test, and any recent changes to your network.
How often should I book a penetration test?
Penetration testing should be regular and companies should perform a test at least annually to provide the best service to your cybersecurity. You should also schedule a penetration test after any significant changes to your organisation’s network.
What types of pen testing are there?
There are three main groups of penetration testing:
Network pen tests: The most common pen test. Since networks have both internal and external access points, it is essential to run tests from both sides. External pen tests involve an ethical hacker (hacking on behalf of you instead of themselves), trying to break into your organisation. The test will be done off-site, as a hacker would naturally work remotely. It is done with consent from your organisation and simulates the action of a malicious hacker trying to get into your network. Internal pen tests are undertaken for a different purpose. The objective is the same as an external test, but the It professional doing it has a degree of existing network access. Internal tests mimic the behaviour of either a hacker once he has access to the system or an untrustworthy employee trying to further existing access.
Web application pen tests: Web apps, browsers and plug-ins can house sensitive financial or personal data, so hackers are increasingly putting their efforts towards gaining access to them. This test examines the endpoint of every web application that a user might have contact with, so requires extensive time and planning from IT professionals. Web app test methods are continually evolving, as is the number of threats to them.
Social engineering pen tests: Social engineering penetration tests identify your risk for malicious agents to exploit vulnerabilities in your workforce. Hostile forces can access your systems through deception, manipulation and unauthorised access. Social engineering techniques include phishing, dumpster diving, eavesdropping, shoulder surfing and tailgating.
What is the goal of pen testing?
There is a misconception that pen testing is a method of identifying vulnerabilities. Although the result is that they expose the risks present in your systems, pen-testing shouldn’t be an organisation’s primary method of identifying these. Penetration testing should take place after your organisation has been fortified by your (internal or external) IT team, as a way to gain assurance of your organisation’s safety. Some experts have compared penetration testing to a financial audit. Your financial team does their day-to-day work to track profit, loss and income, and an external group comes in to confirm that the internal team’s methods are up to scratch.
How does pen testing work?
According to the National Cyber Security Centre, most tests follow a similar process: initial engagement, scoping, testing and follow up. There will be a written report and a severity rating for any risk factors that are identified. For this kind of test to be done, you should have an internal vulnerability assessment and management process.
There are three main ways that pen testing is done: Black box testing: In black box testing, the client doesn’t provide the pen tester with any information about their infrastructure. They will give a URL or IP address. In some cases, they will only give the company name. White box testing: In a white box test, the company undertaking the pen test is provided with detailed information about the applications and infrastructure. Having extra information allows for a more detailed and extensive testing process. It is common to give architecture documentation and source codes. Grey box testing: Grey box testing, as you might guess, is a hybrid of black and white box testing. Clients provide the testing company with snippets of information to assist in the testing process. This method is significantly more extensive than black-box testing but more cost-effective than white box testing.
What does an effective penetration test consist of?
A clear strategy. There must be a high-level view of the risks and the impact that these risks could have on your organisation. It should be laid out clearly in writing. Members of staff from every department, and mainly non-technical staff from the department involved in the penetration test, should be able to understand it.
A way to categorise risk. When vulnerabilities or risks arise, your IT department must be able to communicate the risks level to senior decision-makers quickly. The ability to categorise risk is especially important when something is system-critical, and a staff member needs to take action.
A way to convey a risk’s impact. During or after a penetration test, it is essential to assess both how likely something is to happen and the impact it will have if it does. The specific impact something will have on the organisation also needs to be communicated to decision-makers. A way to measure both of these things is vital in making the penetration test effective.
Multiple options for remedy. Knowing what’s wrong is essential, but an excellent pen test will convey exactly how you can solve the problem that has arose. These should never be generic, should never assume that the person reading has extensive knowledge, or that internal staff already have the skills to fix the issue.
OmniCyber Security has a world-class team of penetration testers to carry out assessments. Contact our expert team today to discuss your organisation’s pen testing needs.