Network penetration testing can be considered as the foundation stone of network security services, using ethical hacking or a hacker style approach to comprehensively test the security levels of the network infrastructure of an entire organization.
The main objective of network penetration testing is to identify the security loopholes and vulnerabilities using a wide set of techniques and methods, understanding their impact through trials, and resolving them before testing the network infrastructure of an organization for further issues.
Network penetration testing also offers the business to properly analyze their network devices and integrated applications by conducting detailed penetration testing with the help of network security professionals.
Since the first step of every network penetration testing process is to identify vulnerabilities, it is very similar to conducting vulnerability assessments. However, in contrast to vulnerability assessments, penetration testing involves legally exploiting the network to discover the existence of security issues and loopholes before resolving them. While vulnerability assessments only evaluate existing threats by running through network systems and security.
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What are the steps involved in network penetration testing?
Black Box Testing
This process involves conducting network penetration testing without prior knowledge regarding the technical aspects of the network. Here, testers are required to conduct detailed searches of the entire network and associated systems to understand the weaknesses that would require a simulated attack to reveal its true issues.
Black box testing is the closest version to the reality of actually being hacked, making it a great option for a final check on the organization’s network system (maybe even as a routine check) to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities open to misuse.
Grey Box Testing
For this testing process, there is prior information available about the inner workings of the system such as technical papers, privileged user credentials, etc.
This information allows the testers to present a highly sophisticated and appropriately modified attack that will provide detailed information on how hackers can gain access to any sensitive information. These kinds of tests provide a comprehensive check-up for accurate security analysis.
White Box Testing
In a more intense manner than grey box testing, white box testing occurs when network professionals and testers have acquired all relevant information regarding the network system, its security features, and its general infrastructure. This testing process is more accurately called an audit and allows a precise security check of the system architecture.
Businesses resort to white box testing to make sure that all features and aspects of the network system are functioning smoothly, leaving no unresolved security issues that can be misused later.
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Why do you need a network security professional for testing purposes?
Combining the necessary expertise and knowledge on network security systems, network professionals can ensure safe and effective system testing – improper network penetration testing processes can be detrimental to the functioning of the organization and their clients.
These professionals will make sure that all precautionary steps are taken against data breaches, simulate network exploitation strategies to put a recovery plan in place, and resolve issues that emerge. They will also confirm application security and make sure that any sensitive data used is handled carefully and secured from compromised situations.
Network penetration testing is never a one-time thing and it is important that it is conducted regularly to detect and resolve any loopholes as and when they occur. Such continuous check-ups allow the business to ensure that no issues have occurred and escaped their notice.
In this manner, the services from a professional are often cost-effective, especially when compared to the alternate situation of financially covering up data losses due to vulnerabilities.
Final Analysis / Reporting
Also called the pen test deliverables, these are the variety of final reports detailing the procedure of identifying security issues prevalent within the system, confirmation of their presence, and the pattern of resolution decided upon. After the completion of the penetration testing, these reports provide a complete review of the entire process, techniques, and methodologies used, a list of vulnerabilities found with their priority levels, along with recommendations for solving them and suggestions for increasing the overall security of the system.
There are also versions of this report that can be presented to the respective management teams in charge of the testing process and its results. These kinds of reports will reduce the technical aspects – and terms – within the entire process, reducing it to a theoretical presentation of the current situation of the system, including the effect on the business in the future if these remain unresolved and the associated monetary losses. It may also mention future IT investments for increasing general security strength.
The testing process is considered important for every business, be it small, medium or large, because everyone has something to lose at the hands of a hacker. If the network security is guaranteed, a lot of other factors come immediately assured, such as smooth business operation, continuous customer interactions and purchases, and quality promises.