Penetration Testing: What’s needed to do it successfully?

7 August 2023
Pen Testing

Undertaking a penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking, is a crucial step to assess the security of a company’s systems and identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious attackers. Here are the steps to conduct a penetration test:

  1. Scope Definition: Clearly define the scope of the penetration test, including the systems, networks, and applications to be tested, as well as the testing methodologies and limitations.
  2. Planning and Reconnaissance: Gather information about the company’s infrastructure and assets through passive reconnaissance. This may involve using public resources, internet searches, and social engineering techniques to understand the company’s online presence and potential attack vectors.
  3. Vulnerability Scanning: Perform an automated vulnerability scan to identify known weaknesses in the company’s systems. This helps to identify low-hanging fruit that can be exploited during the penetration test.
  4. Manual Testing and Exploitation: Conduct manual testing and exploitation of identified vulnerabilities. Skilled ethical hackers simulate real-world attack scenarios to determine the potential impact of the vulnerabilities.
  5. Privilege Escalation: Attempt to escalate privileges to gain higher-level access to systems, mimicking what an attacker might do to achieve their objectives.
  6. Lateral Movement: If applicable, attempt to move laterally within the network to gain access to other systems, reflecting the tactics of advanced attackers.
  7. Data Exfiltration (if permitted): If part of the scope, attempt to extract sensitive data to demonstrate potential data breaches.
  8. Analysis and Reporting: Analyze the findings, rank vulnerabilities based on their severity, and prepare a detailed report for the company. The report should include a summary of the test, vulnerabilities identified, potential impact, and recommended remediation actions.
  9. Remediation and Retesting: Work with the company’s IT and security teams to address the identified vulnerabilities and retest to confirm that the issues have been effectively resolved.
  10. Reporting and Debriefing: Present the penetration testing results to the company’s management and IT teams, providing insights into the security posture and offering recommendations for improving security.

By following these steps, companies can gain valuable insights into their security strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to proactively address vulnerabilities and enhance their overall cybersecurity posture. Regularly conducting penetration tests is essential to stay one step ahead of evolving cyber threats and ensure a robust defence against potential attacks. Pen Testing should only be undertaken by qualified and experienced technicians with knowledge of key stakeholders within the organization. Please speak to Archway Securities about conducting penetration testing.

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