Pen test or penetration testing, may be defined as an attempt to evaluate the security of an IT infrastructure by simulating a cyber-attack against computer system to exploit vulnerabilities.
What is the difference between vulnerability scanning and penetration testing? Vulnerability scanning simply identifies the noted vulnerabilities and penetration testing, as told earlier, is an attempt to exploit vulnerabilities. Penetration testing helps to determine whether unauthorized access or any other malicious activity is possible in the system.
We can perform penetration testing for servers, web applications, wireless networks, mobile devices and any other potential point of exposure using manual or automated technologies. Because of penetration testing, if we exploit any kind of vulnerabilities, the same must be forwarded to the IT and the network system manager to reach a strategic conclusion.
In this section, we will learn about the significance of penetration testing. Consider the following points to know about the significance −
The significance of penetration testing can be understood from the point that it provides assurance to the organization with a detailed assessment of the security of that organization.
With the help of penetration testing, we can spot potential threats before facing any damage and protect confidentiality of that organization.
Penetration testing can ensure us regarding the implementation of security policy in an organization.
With the help of penetration testing, the efficiency of network can be managed. It can scrutinize the security of devices like firewalls, routers, etc.
Suppose if we want to implement any change in network design or update the software, hardware, etc. then penetration testing ensures the safety of organization against any kind of vulnerability.
Penetration testers are software professionals who help organizations strengthen their defenses against cyber-attacks by identifying vulnerabilities. A penetration tester can use manual techniques or automated tools for testing.
Let us now consider the following important characteristics of a good penetration tester −
A good pentester must have knowledge of application development, database administration and networking because he/she will be expected to deal with configuration settings as well as coding.
Pentester must be an outstanding thinker and will not hesitate to apply different tools and methodologies on a particular assignment for getting the best output.
A good pentester must have the knowledge to establish the scope for each penetration test such as its objectives, limitations and the justification of procedures.
A pentester must be up-to-date in his/her technological skills because there can be any change in technology anytime.
After successfully implementing penetration testing, a pen tester must mention all the findings and potential risks in the final report. Hence, he/she must have good skills of report making.
A passionate person can achieve success in life. Similarly, if a person is passionate about cyber securities then he/she can become a good pen tester.
We will now learn about the scope of penetration testing. The following two kinds of tests can define the scope of penetration testing −
Nondestructive testing does not put the system into any kind of risk. NDT is used to find defects, before they become dangerous, without harming the system, object, etc. While doing penetration testing, NDT performs the following actions −
This test scans and identifies the remote system for possible vulnerabilities.
After finding vulnerabilities, it also does the verification of all that is found.
In NDT, a pen tester would utilize the remote system properly. This helps in avoiding interruptions.
Note − On the other hand, while doing penetration testing, NDT does not perform Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack.
Destructive testing can put the system into risk. It is more expensive and requires more skills than nondestructive testing. While doing penetration testing, destructive testing performs the following actions −
Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack − Destructive testing performs DoS attack.
Buffer overflow attack − It also performs buffer overflow attack which can lead to the crash of system.
The penetration testing techniques & tools should only be executed in environments you own or have permission to run these tools in. We must never practice these techniques in environments wherein, we are not authorized to do so because penetration testing without permission is illegal.
We can practice penetration testing by installing a virtualization suite - either VMware Player (www.vmware.com/products/player) or Oracle VirtualBox −
We can also create Virtual Machines (VMs) out of the current version of −
Kali Linux (www.kali.org/downloads/)
Samurai Web Testing Framework (http://samurai.inguardians.com/)