What Is Penetration Testing (Pen-Testing) And How Does It Work?

What Is Penetration Testing (Pen-Testing) And How Does It Work?

penetration testing meaning

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing,” is a security exercise where a cyber-security expert attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in a computer system. Penetration testing meanings is the identification of weak spots in the system’s defenses that attackers can take advantage of.

While this may sound frightening, it is an emerging trend that some of the biggest companies worldwide make use of to avoid being caught off guard by bad guys. You can identify the organization’s vulnerability before a potential breach by deliberately assaulting your own network.

How does penetration testing work?

After you know the meaning of penetration testing, it is necessary to understand its working mechanisms. Pen testing employs ethical hackers to simulate hostile modules and put themselves in their shoes. Network owners formulate a unique penetrating scope indicating which systems are eligible for testing along with the time frame.

Outlining the parameters of penetration testing

Determining scope outlines guidelines and sets the tone, along with limitations on what the testers can and cannot do. Once the scope and time frame has been established, ethical hackers scan for ways into the network. Tests start with a vulnerability scan to help identify potential doorways into the network. Applications that incorrectly handle malformed packets or inadequately configured firewalls could also be responsible for these vulnerabilities.

Once the system is infected, the tester can try to gain access to privileged networks in order to investigate the network further and gain access to other crucial systems. Penetration testing meaning promotes using escalation networks to investigate a network and determine what would happen in the worst-case situation.

The utility of the physical layer as part of penetration testing

There is another aspect of cyber security that is overlooked: the physical layer. Unlocked doors with someone pretending to be IT staff may thwart the best network security. In some cases, it may lead to the removal of physical hardware.

After completion of the test, a detailed report on the findings outlines the tested process or systems, and any compromises found, and suggests remediation action steps. Penetration testing is usually conducted annually after a set of proposed security changes are made.

Automated or manual

Penetration testing can be performed automatically or manually. Pen testing using automated tools optimizes resources by automating elements of the penetration testing process so that vulnerability identification can be performed continuously without human intervention. The process involves gathering information about potential targets, identifying potential entry points, attempting to break in virtually or actually, and reporting back findings to the security team of an organization.

Who performs pen tests?

It is better to have a pen test conducted by someone who has little or no prior knowledge of the function of the system. They would be able to detect blind spots missed by the developers who formulated the system. For this reason, outside contractors are brought in to conduct the test. These contractors are referred to as ethical hackers,” as they are being hired to hack into a system with permission and for the purpose of increasing security.

The majority of ethical hackers have postgraduate degrees, are seasoned coders, and like penetration testing. The most ethical hackers, however, are often self-taught. Some of them might be dishonest hackers who work to remedy security weaknesses rather than taking advantage of them. The choice of the superlative candidate to undertake pen testing is dependent upon the target company and the penetration testing meaning they are looking to achieve.

To conclude, with cyber-attacks becoming more complex, sophisticated, and on the rise, it is more important than ever that organizations conduct regular penetration tests, identify black holes, and ensure cyber controls are working as intended. The tests enable an organization to take a proactive stance as it seeks out weaknesses in the infrastructure.

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