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What is the importance of Pen Testing in Cyber Security?
A penetration test, also known as a pen test, is a process to analyze the security of an IT infrastructure by exploiting vulnerabilities in a controlled manner. These defects could be found in operating systems, services, and applications, as well as incorrect setups and unsafe end-user behavior. These tests can also be used to verify the effectiveness of defensive strategies and end-user compliance with security regulations.
Penetration testing is a technique for determining your security before an adversary does. Penetration testing software simulates real-world attack scenarios in order to find and exploit security flaws that could result in data theft, compromised credentials, intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), cardholder data, personal, protected health information, and data ransom, or other adverse business outcomes. Penetration testing helps you determine how to best prevent and defend your essential business data from future cybersecurity assaults by exploiting security weaknesses.
Information regarding any security vulnerabilities successfully exploited through penetration testing is often compiled and delivered to IT and network system management to assist them in reaching strategic judgments and prioritizing related remedial actions. Penetration testing's primary goal is to assess the likelihood of a system or end-user breach, as well as any potential ramifications for the resources or activities involved.
For instance, it is circumventing a firewall to gain access to a system. Once a system's vulnerabilities have been successfully exploited, testers can use hacked systems to look for more flaws that will allow them to gain access to other assets and data. Penetration testing information concerning security flaws that are successfully found or exploited is often compiled into a report that may be used to guide remedial efforts.
What are the Stages of Pen Testing?
Let us now discuss the six stages of Pen Testing −
Planning and Reconnaissance
The first part of the pen test has begun. During this step, the security researcher acquires information on the target. It can be done actively (by making a request directly to the target and interpreting it) or passively (by gathering information without contacting the target). It enables security businesses to collect data on the target system, network components, active machines, open ports and access points, operating system specifics, etc. This exercise can be carried out utilizing publicly available information and a variety of tools.
This is a tool-oriented phase rather than a manual one. To learn more about the target, the pentester uses one or more scanner tools. Pen testers collect as many vulnerabilities as possible using various scanners such as war dialers (computer programs that identify phone numbers), port scanners, network mappers (used for network discovery and security auditing), and vulnerability scanners (which identify problems in the system). This allows them to attack a target in a more sophisticated manner.
Final Analysis and Review
This stage takes into account all of the previous steps (described above) as well as an assessment of the vulnerabilities present in the form of potential threats. Furthermore, the tester advises that the weaknesses and hazards be eliminated. Above all, the tester must ensure that the tests and vulnerabilities revealed are transparent.
The development of a report must begin with overall testing processes, followed by a vulnerability and risk analysis. Prioritize the high risks and critical vulnerabilities, then move on to the lower stakes and vulnerabilities.
This stage uses web application attacks, including cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and backdoors, to uncover a target's flaws. To further understand the potential impact of these flaws, testers attempt to exploit them by escalating privileges, to steal data, intercepting communications, and other methods.
Keeping Access Open
This step determines if the vulnerability can be used to create a long-term presence in the compromised system, allowing a bad actor to get in-depth access. The idea is to imitate sophisticated, persistent attacks, which may remain in a system for months and steal a company's most sensitive data.
Clean Up and Remediation
Pen testers, like real attackers, can leave "footprints." It's vital to go back through systems and delete any artifacts created during the test, as they could be used by someone with malevolent intents in the future. Once this is done, a company can focus on correcting the security flaws that were identified and prioritized during the testing phase. This could include compensating measures to safeguard gaps that aren't easily remedied, or even investing in new security and efficiency-enhancing technologies.
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