All the kinds of pen testing you should know about
If you’re here, you’re probably turning your attention to your company’s cybersecurity. Welcome, and good job – you’re doing the right thing. Cybersecurity is a major issue for every business to confront these days and it’s an increasingly complex topic, requiring input from industry professionals who understand the kinds of threats posed to companies with any kind of electronic network.
But what do such experts do to keep you safe? The first step is diagnosing the problem – in other words, finding the vulnerabilities in your systems, and that means penetration testing, or pen testing. By safely simulating an attack on your systems, pen testers are able to infiltrate your operations and show you how they did it so the vulnerability they took advantage of can be fixed. Here are the different kinds of pen testing you should be aware of:
This type of pen test can be both internal and external, looking for vulnerabilities in your networks, systems, hosts and network devices like routers that hackers could infiltrate to extract data or even take control of for their own purposes. Think your clients’ data is safe in your network? Network services pen tests will tell you for sure, by examining things like:
A big part of keeping your network safe is examining your wireless connections. A password on your Wi-Fi often isn’t enough to keep out a sophisticated hacker. That’s why experts look into the use of wireless devices at your office to see how they could be used to hack into your cyber infrastructure and cause damage. Wireless protocols, wireless access points and administrative credentials are all checked in this process.
Web application pen tests go deeper than the network services tests, looking for security flaws in web-based applications. Expect this test to take longer due to its complexity. But the time spent is well worth it as web application tests dive into important components like ActiveX, Silverlight and Java Applets.
This type of testing can also look at issues within your workspace. What if your laptop fell into the wrong hands or your personal computer was successfully hacked from outside? Suddenly, a lack of security at your own workstation turns into a security liability for the entire company. Web browsers on your computer and installed software are scanned to make sure there are no backdoors from your device to infiltrate the company’s infrastructure.
Native mobile app testing
There are also all kinds of clever ways to tests those high-performance mobile apps that store lots of sensitive information. A vulnerable financial app could leave credit card information or bank account details exposed to hackers without doing your due diligence. For an app like that, a serious breach could be the end of the line.
A word about black, white and gray box testing
As you educate yourself about your company’s cybersecurity, you’re also likely to come across the terms black box penetration testing, white box penetration testing and gray box penetration testing. These are more general terms that refer to how much knowledge a hacker has of your systems and therefore what conditions a tester needs to simulate.
In black box testing, it’s assumed that the hacker knows next to nothing of your cyber infrastructure. A full-on attack is launched at your entire system to try and locate a weakness. It’s good old-fashioned trial and error. In white box testing, testers simulate a situation in which a hacker has full knowledge and access to key elements like the source code and software architecture of a web application. Gray box testing sits somewhere in the middle, assuming that a hacker has obtained partial knowledge of your systems and how they work. Considering which angle to approach pen testing is important to locate any threats that a hacker could find and exploit.
It’s often best to periodically do a full sweep, making sure that all of these systems are as safe as can be and keeping you protected from whatever new tools and methods hackers may have come up with. Whatever the case may be, security is always a top priority.