11 Jan Penetration testing methods presented and explained
Main penetration testing methods. Explained.
Penetration testing, also known as “pen testing,” is the practice of simulating a cyber attack on a computer system, network, or web application to evaluate its security posture. This type of testing is a crucial part of any security strategy, as it helps identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.
There are several different types of penetration testing methods, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. In this blog, we will explain the main types of penetration testing methods, including external testing, internal testing, blind testing, double-blind testing, and targeted testing. In a recent, online interview, our CTO, Francesco Mifsud, explained what a typical penetration test includes.
External testing is the most common type of penetration testing. In this method, the testers simulate an attack on the target system from outside the organisation’s network. This type of testing is useful for identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by external attackers, such as hackers or malicious insiders.
Internal testing, on the other hand, involves simulating an attack from within the organisation’s network and/or system/s. This type of testing is useful for identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by internal users, such as employees or contractors. Usually, this is done hand in hand with phishing simulation campaigns.
Blind testing is a type of penetration testing where the testers do not have any prior knowledge of the target system/s. This type of testing is useful for simulating a real-world attack, as it closely mirrors the way attackers typically operate. The ethical hackers will use techniques and tool-sets that are normally used by black hat hackers.
Double-blind testing is similar to blind testing, but in this case, neither the testers nor the organisation’s staff are aware of the test being conducted. This type of testing is useful for evaluating the organisation’s security posture and the effectiveness of its security controls. The input (from the pen test’s reports) can be of paramount importance to the CISO to update SOPs and to organise cyber awareness training – in addition to hardening of systems and applications.
Targeted testing is a type of penetration testing where the testers focus on a specific part of the target system, such as a specific network or web application. This type of testing is useful for evaluating the security of a particular system or component, rather than the organisation’s security as a whole.
Best practice is to have a mix of these different types of penetration testing methods. Some are required by regulatory bodies as part of the licensing procedures.
External testing is useful for identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by external attackers, while internal testing is useful for identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by internal users – through lack of knowledge or maliciously. Blind and double-blind testing are useful for simulating real-world attacks, and targeted testing is useful for evaluating the security of a specific system or component thereof.
By understanding the main types of penetration testing methods, organisations can choose the right method for their specific needs and goals. Carrying out Pen Tests is crucial for your organisation’s cyber and information security!
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