Penetration Testing or Pen Testing is intrusion into a computer system or network to look for security problems that a hacker could exploit. This method of testing exposes potential risks within a system or web application in full, so the tester penetrates deep into the system and attacks any possible flaws in order to fully determine the potential security risks and the defects in the system. Pen testing is invaluable to businesses as this thorough investigation will reveal vulnerable data and areas of systems that hackers could access, it also shows how an intruder could use one access breach to gain access to other systems or networks. Pen testing provides an exhaustive detailed view of the potential risk to the business.
Security threats are ever present and always evolving – there is no question as to whether your internet facing resources will be attacked, the only question is one of time. Your website traffic can be hijacked, malware can automatically download and your website is at risk of cross site scripting, code injection and other threats.
A penetration test must be conducted by a certified penetration tester like us here at DigitalXRaid. Make sure you look around before selecting one as a crucial part of penetration testing is actually the intelligence of the tester! It is not just the methods and processes they use but the ability to think around the information they access to know which test or tool to run next.
The tester will subject your systems to a simulated malicious attack, using a variety of different methods. The aim of the test is to expose any possible weakness from unpatched software, to weak encryption algorithms and unsecure code.
Penetration testing can often be confused with other forms of security testing and diagnostics such as a Vulnerability Scan. The unique thing about Pen testing is it doesn’t solely identify security flaws but the tester will work hard to exploit those flaws, thereby demonstrating the full depth and breadth of the security problems. The tester is a human or a team of humans, which means they think outside the box, using the information they gather to further their tests. This makes a pen test much more advanced than any computer led processes for security investigations. A pen test allows for multiple attack vectors to be exploited at the same time, it is often this combination of attacks that reveals the deeper weaknesses within a system.
A pen test conducted with proper aims and expectations has real value. It reveals the ability of the network defence to detect and respond to attacks, it shows the depth of a security breach should one occur, it identifies high risk vulnerabilities that can be repaired and it is part of annual compliance regulations for many companies. As with any test or measure, there is really nothing that can guarantee security but regular pen testing goes a long way in demonstrating your company’s commitment to excellent security across all systems.