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What's Penetration Testing & What are the Phases of a Penetration Test?

Serena Gray
I work as a Senior Testing Specialist at TestingXperts, accustomed to working in a complex, project-based environmentt.
・3 min read

What's Penetration Testing?

Penetration Testing is still answering a straightforward question: "What will a cybercriminal do to damage my business' computer programs, software, and network? ". It's the practice of testing a computer program, system, or web application to find vulnerabilities an attacker may exploit, simulating an attack against a company's IT assets.

Vulnerabilities Could Be Due To Multiple Reasons, Few Basic One's Being:

So, an efficient penetration testing helps in finding the gaps in the security tools that an organization is using, detects multiple attack vectors and misconfigurations. So a company can prioritize the threat, fix it, and enhance the general security response period. Moving forward, with this, what is Penetration Testing?' In the article, we'll learn how a typical penetration test is performed.

Now That We Know What is Penetration Testing Let's Understand What Are The Phases of a Penetration Test?

Penetration tester usually begins by gathering as much information regarding the target as you can. He then identifies the possible vulnerabilities in the system by scanning. After which he launches an attack. Post-attack he assesses each vulnerability and the risk involved. Finally, a comprehensive report is submitted to higher government summarizing the outcomes of the penetration test.

Penetration testing can be divided up into multiple stages; this will be different based upon the company and the type of penetration test.

Let's Discuss Each Phase:

Reconnaissance & Planning

The first phase is planning. The attacker gathers as much information regarding the goal as you can. In this stage, he also defines the extent and aims of a test, including the systems to be addressed as well as also the testing methods to be used. An expert penetration tester will devote the majority of the time in this phase; this can help with further steps of the attack.

Based on the data collected in step one, the attacker will interact with the goal to recognize the vulnerabilities. This helps a penetration tester to launch attacks utilizing vulnerabilities in the system. This phase includes using resources such as port scanners, ping tools, vulnerability scanners, and community mappers.

While studying web applications, the scanning component can be either static or dynamic.

In static scanning, the aim is to identify the vulnerable functions, libraries, and logic implementation
Dynamic analysis is the practical way of the scan when compared with a static evaluation where the tester will pass different inputs to the application and record the responses.

Actual Exploit

This is the critical phase that has to be performed with due care. This is the step at which the real damage is done. Penetration Tester has to possess some special abilities and methods to launch an attack on the target system. Employing these techniques an attacker will attempt to acquire the information, compromise the system, launch dos attacks, etc. to assess to what extent the computer system or program or a system could be compromised.

Risk Analysis & Recommendations

After the penetration test is complete, the last objective is to collect evidence of the exploited vulnerabilities. This step mostly considers all the steps discussed above and an evaluation of the vulnerabilities within the form of potential risks. At times, in this step, the pen-tester also provides some helpful recommendations to implement to improve security levels.

Report Generation

Now, this really is the last and the most crucial step. In this measure, the outcomes of the penetration test are compiled into a comprehensive report. This report usually has the following details:

Recommendations made in the past stage
Vulnerabilities Which Were found and the risk levels they posses
Overall Overview of the penetration test

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