Penetration testing is the practice of testing a computer system, network or web application to find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit. Penetration testing is strongly advisable because it can help organizations identify vulnerabilities in their networks and systems that could be exploited by attackers. By identifying and addressing these vulnerabilities, organizations can improve the security of their networks and systems and help protect themselves against potential attacks.
Types of Penetration Testing
Internal Infrastructure Penetration Testing
Internal infrastructure penetration testing is a process of identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in an organization's internal systems and networks. The goal of this type of testing is to identify and assess the security of systems and networks that are not typically exposed to the public Internet. Internal infrastructure penetration testing can be used to identify vulnerabilities in systems that are used to store or process sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or patient information. It can also be used to identify vulnerabilities in systems that are used to control access to sensitive resources, such as the organization's network infrastructure or internal databases.
Web Application Security Testing
A web application security test is a process of identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in a web application. The goal of a web application security test is to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by an attacker. There are a variety of different methods that can be used to test for web application vulnerabilities. The most common methods include:
Source code analysis
Web application firewalls
Each of these methods has its own strengths and weaknesses. The most effective way to identify vulnerabilities in a web application is to use a combination of the above methods.
External Infrastructure Penetration
Testing External infrastructure penetration testing is the process of identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in systems and applications that are exposed to the Internet. The goal of external infrastructure penetration testing is to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker to gain access to or compromise the systems and applications.
Wireless Penetration Testing
Wireless penetration testing is the process of testing a wireless network for security vulnerabilities. Wireless networks are vulnerable to a variety of attacks, including denial of service attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and packet sniffing. A wireless penetration test can help identify these vulnerabilities and help to secure the network. The test can be performed with a variety of tools, including wireless scanners, wireless sniffers, and wireless intrusion detection systems.
Mobile Application security Testing
Mobile application security testing is a process of assessing the security of mobile applications. It is a subset of application security testing, which in turn is a subset of software security testing.
The goal of mobile application security testing is to identify and mitigate security risks in mobile applications. Security risks can include vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers to gain access to sensitive data or to take control of the mobile device.
Mobile application security testing should be performed on all mobile applications, regardless of the platform (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.) or the development methodology (native, hybrid, or web-based).
The main areas that should be tested include:
Data security: Can the application protect sensitive data from unauthorized access or theft?
Application security: Are the application's security features adequate for protecting the data and the device?
Network security: Can the application protect the device from unauthorized access or attacks over the network?
User interface security: Can users safely interact with the application without exposing their data or the device to risk?
Platform security: Are the underlying platform security features (e.g., sandboxing, permissions) adequate for protecting the application and the device?
Security testing should be performed throughout the software development life cycle, from the early stages of design and development through to the final stages of testing and release.
White box, gray box, and black box
There are many types of penetration testing, but the most common are white box, gray box, and black box.
White box testing is a type of penetration testing in which the testers have full knowledge of the system and its security vulnerabilities. Testers use this information to identify and exploit vulnerabilities.
The history of white box penetration testing is difficult to track, as it is a relatively new term. However, the concept of white box testing is much older, and can be traced back to the early days of software development. In those days, software was often developed in-house, by teams of programmers who worked closely together. In order to ensure the quality of their work, these teams would often perform white box testing, which involved reviewing and testing the code as it was written. This allowed them to catch and fix errors early in the development process, before they had a chance to cause problems.
Today, white box testing is still used in many software development organizations. However, it is also used in other industries, such as banking and finance, where the security of critical systems is a top priority. In these industries, white box testing is often used to help identify and fix security vulnerabilities.
Gray box testing is a type of penetration testing in which the testers have limited knowledge of the system and its security vulnerabilities. Testers use this information to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. The goal of gray box testing is to identify the vulnerabilities of a system using information that is both open source and proprietary.
Black box testing is the most common type of penetration testing. In black box testing, the testers have no prior knowledge of the system or its security vulnerabilities. Testers use only publicly available information to identify potential vulnerabilities. it is generally believed that black box penetration testing originated in the early days of computing, when security researchers and hackers began using various methods to probe the security of computer systems and networks.
The main difference between black box penetration testing and hacking is that black box penetration testing is a legal and authorized activity, while hacking is an unauthorized and illegal activity.
Whatever type of penetration testing assessment you choose, make sure that the company you hire has team members are devoted to information security and know how to oppose malicious attacks. To learn more about types of malware and their possible effect on computer systems read our blog article Common Malware Types.