When you opt for an external pen-testing solution or a service provider, the entire pen-testing process requires collaboration between your organization and the entire security team. The terms of collaboration are agreed upon in a pre-engagement phase. Let us understand the penetration testing phases in detail.
Penetration Testing Phase 1: Prior to Engagement
This is the stage where the logistics or rules of engagement are discussed. The target organisation and VAPT providers can discuss the legal implications of the exercise. For the pen-testing team, you would like to keep certain areas off-limits, and this is the phase to clarify that.
This is the phase of penetration testing where the scope of the testing is defined. The target, along with the tester, knows what to expect from the test. The scope of the test influences the subsequent penetration testing phases.
Penetration Testing Phase 2: Reconnaissance
To stimulate a cyberattack on an application or system, the pen tester needs information about the target. This information is gathered during the reconnaissance phase.
In active reconnaissance, the pen testers engage directly with the system to obtain information. This may prove to be an accurate reconnaissance technique, but since the intrusive party engages with the system, it generates additional noise. Passive reconnaissance means that the intruder does not interact with the target system and applies passive strategies to obtain information.
Penetration Testing Phase 3: The Discovery Phase
The discovery phase is split into two parts.
- Further information scanning
- Vulnerability scan
The first phase means obtaining more information about the target network using a bunch of different techniques. The second part means testing the application or the operating system for known vulnerabilities. Another option is to have security engineers perform a manual scan of the system.
Penetrating Testing Phase 4: Vulnerability Analysis
During a security scan, you are likely to come across various threats. It is important to link each threat source to a vulnerability and then prioritise them based on the risk that they pose to the system. There is a need for a well-defined and consistent process to analyse the vulnerabilities in terms of security and risk.
The assessment of vulnerabilities is usually performed in line with the various security and risk assessment standards.
Penetration Testing Phase 5: Post-exploitation and Exploitation Itself
The previous penetration testing phases set the stage for the exploitation phase. The goal here is to establish access to a system using the loopholes that were uncovered in the earlier phases of testing.
The penetrators need to be careful when conducting this phase to ensure that the business’s vulnerabilities are not compromised or hidden. System crashes during penetration testing turn out to be rare.
Penetration Testing Phase 6: Detailed Reporting Accompanied by Recommendations
A VAPT report is created during this step and shared with the client as a result of the earlier penetration testing phases.. In the reporting phase, the pen testers provide in-depth information about vulnerabilities like
- The description of the vulnerabilities
- Video POCs
- Risk assessment report
The quality of the VAPT report underscores how quickly and efficiently you will reproduce and remove the vulnerabilities from the system.
Penetration Testing Phase 7: Remediation and Rescan
The VAPT report advocates step-by-step recommendations for fixing the vulnerabilities. Your developers can follow the recommendations to close the gaps in application security. The VAPT company that you are entering into a partnership with should support you at every stage. An ideal remediation phase would look something like this:
- Reporting of vulnerabilities and detailed remediation steps
- From security engineers, there is video-based assistance.
- Developers get on a call to discuss the remediation steps when needed.
The moment vulnerabilities are fixed, VAPT should offer rescans to outline any security loopholes that may have gone unattended.
To conclude, all the penetration testing phases are independent and deserve simple attention. An important point of consideration is that none of the phases is ignored or jumped.