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What is Penetration Testing and How Does It Work?

8 Apr
Penetration Testing

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    Businesses depending on digital ecosystems are creating new growth opportunities. Without you even realizing it, a dark force lurks in the shadows- the threat of cybercrime.

    Hackers are always waiting to sneak into the minute weaknesses and damage your digital infrastructure. The structured and planned practice of Penetration testing is the only solution for that.

    As a venture, it is essential to dig into the intricate webs of computer networks, systems, and applications. Its mission: to expose vulnerabilities that could prove disastrous in the wrong hands.

    In this blog, we will help you understand Penetration testing to harness the talents of skilled professionals, to embody the duality of attacker and guardian. Let’s start!

    Table of Content
    1. What is Penetration Testing?
    2. Types of Penetration Testing
    3. Tools for Penetration Testing
    4. Start Your Penetration Testing with QAble- Your Ultimate Testing Partner
    5. FAQs

    What is Penetration Testing?

    Penetration testing also known as pen-testing is a proactive security assessment. Organizations implement this testing method to address the vulnerabilities in their computer systems.

    In penetration testing, QA experts mimic the actions of real hackers intending to strengthen their defenses. They employ manual exploration and automated scanning tools to scrutinize the network's applications along with the impact of human factors.

    Therefore, QA is no less than a cybersecurity warrior who searches for crucial vulnerabilities such as misconfigurations, unpatched software, weak passwords, and many other weaknesses. In this way, they can take proactive measures and prevent financial losses, data breaches, and other catastrophic consequences.

    Also Read: Software Tester Roles and Responsibilities: A Detailed Overview

    Have a look at the following points to understand penetration testing in brief.

    • Penetration testing goes beyond technical aspects.
    • It provides valuable insights to enhance the security posture and empowers you to improve your organization’s defense mechanism.
    • Penetration testing plays a crucial role in protecting sensitive data, and customer trust, and ensuring continuity of operations in an interconnected digital landscape.
    • Conducting penetration testing regularly ensures security resilience and continuous improvement.

    Types of Penetration Testing

    Testers perform pen-testing without any malicious intent to safeguard your system and take necessary actions when required. However, apart from testing, they also need to keep the management in the loop for every reaction and action. Let’s explore the different types of penetration testing.

    #1 External Network Penetration Testing

    External penetration testing is a vital practice that focuses on assessing digital security from an external perspective. Its main aim is to expose the weaknesses by uncovering vulnerabilities to take proactive measures to secure, patch, and prevent breaches to safeguard sensitive information.

    The testing team analyzes public information which includes email addresses, the company’s website links, and other external links. Here, the experts try to break the firewall utilizing public data.

    They employ Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and other internally built tools to hack the password and test its capability.

    Therefore, it helps organizations stay ahead of cybercriminals and protect against potential intrusions, financial losses, and data breaches. By investing in these proactive security measures for robust cybersecurity.

    #2 Internal Network Penetration Testing

    Penetration testing highlights internal vulnerabilities. This practice involves finding misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and other potential weaknesses that can be exploited by an attacker.

    To prevent that, testers must work from an attacker’s perspective to navigate across the internal network, escalate privileges, and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

    Hence, internal penetration testing also finds out the security gaps that may arise due to misconfigurations, weak user permissions, or insecure network protocols.

    #3 Social Engineering Testing

    When talking about social engineering testing, phishing emails are one of the best examples to understand social engineering testing. This method involves intrusion attempts into the organization’s premises, security systems, testing controls, etc.

    They test its ability to prevent unauthorized physical access to sensitive areas. Here, QA engineers use several methods such as phishing, impersonation, pretexting, or tailgating to gain unauthorized access.

    However, testers may exploit gaps in employee awareness, communication flaws, and trust in external entities to deceive individuals into revealing data or granting access to critical systems.

    #4 Physical Penetration Testing

    This testing involves the deployment of skilled professionals called “red teamers” or ethical hackers. These ethical hackers possess expertise in physical security.

    They attempt to gain unauthorized access to the restrictive areas, and sensitive information to exploit the security controls. This includes social engineering techniques to deceive or manipulate employees, exploiting vulnerabilities in access control systems, utilizing lock-picking tools, conducting tailgating, or attempting to bypass security barriers.

    Therefore, physical penetration testing helps organizations to proactively address and identify vulnerabilities in physical security infrastructure which reduces several risks such as theft, unauthorized access, or information.

    #5 Wireless Penetration Testing

    The main objective of wireless penetration testing is to simulate real-world attacks. T helps organizations figure out the weaknesses in wireless networks and take crucial steps to mitigate risks and enhance the security posture.

    In professional wireless penetration, a systematic approach is followed. This begins with clearly defining the testing objectives and scope in collaboration with the organization. The scope includes identifying wireless networks and devices which need to be tested.

    Tools for Penetration Testing

    These tools serve as their virtual sidekicks, helping them uncover vulnerabilities, exploit weaknesses, and fortify defenses against potential cyber threats.

    Let’s dive in and unravel the secrets behind these tools, functionalities, and how they contribute to the essential tasks of securing our digital world.

    • Kali- Kali Linux is a penetration testing platform that encompasses a vast array of tools designed for ethical hacking and security assessments. It covers a wide range of areas including enumeration and scanning, web application testing, and many more.
    • WireShark- It is a network protocol analyzer that captures and analyzes network traffic in real time. This tool allows testers to inspect packets, decode protocols, and detect suspicious network behavior.
    • Metasploit- It has a versatile framework that provides comprehensive tools for penetration testing. With a wide range of exploits, auxiliary modules, and payload generators, which allows testers to assess vulnerabilities in various applications and systems.
    • NeuraLegion- This tool follows the concept of AI which enables the testing team to detect system vulnerabilities automatically with zero-day hacks, business logic, and known issues. Thus, you can use the system to assure the security protocol.
    • OWASP Zap- It is an open-source web application security scanner that mainly helps in identifying common web vulnerabilities such as broken authentication, injection flaws, and other web vulnerabilities.

    Also Read: Learn How to Automate Mobile App Testing with This Comprehensive Guide

    Start Your Penetration Testing with QAble- Your Ultimate Testing Partner

    QAble is the pinnacle of software testing excellence. As a distinguished company, we take immense pride in our role as a trusted partner, helping clients across the globe achieve unrivaled levels of software quality.We go beyond mere testing; we strive to make a positive impact on your software's quality and performance. Here are some professional and precise tips and ideas for effective penetration testing.

    • Tailored Testing Approach- QAble is always determined to maintain the uniqueness of every software product. We meticulously analyze the technology stack, and project requirements to create an extensive and targeted testing strategy to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
    • Continuous Integration and Delivery- QAble advocates for an integrated approach to testing in a CI/CD environment. We collaborate closely with your development and operations teams, seamlessly integrating testing into your software delivery pipeline to ensure that quality is maintained at every stage.
    • Testing Metric and Reporting- We provide comprehensive test metrics and reporting to gain insights into the testing progress to make data-driven decisions. You can track improvements and enhance software quality on time.
    • Focus on Early Engagement- Our testing experts remain involved from the beginning of the SDLC to assess the requirements and gather data to identify potential issues. Therefore, we can suggest necessary improvements early to save time and resources in the long run.

    In conclusion, let QAble be your trusted partner in achieving software quality excellence. We stand by your side, guiding you through the intricate landscape of software testing, offering our expertise and support every step of the way.

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    Written by Nishil Patel

    CEO & Founder

    Nishil is a successful serial entrepreneur. He has more than a decade of experience in the software industry. He advocates for a culture of excellence in every software product.


    Is penetration testing considered legal?

    Penetration testing is considered legal when done with proper authorization and defined scope of engagement. It is essential to engage certified testers to ensure compliance with legal and ethical standards.

    How much time penetration testing takes to complete?

    Various factors affect the duration to complete penetration testing such as testing scope, goals, complexity of the system, etc. However, it can range from a few days to several weeks to complete and report the phases.

    Can penetration testing disrupt network operations?

    Properly conducted penetration testing aims to minimize disruptions. Testers use controlled and targeted techniques to avoid causing widespread network disruptions.

    Is it essential to fix every vulnerability found in penetration tests?

    Not all vulnerabilities may require immediate fix. Testers consider its potential impact, security, and risk of tolerance to address the vulnerability issues.

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