Penetration Testing: How to Identify Exploitable Vulnerabilities?

by harrymiller
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Penetration Testing

In this rapidly changing cybersecurity landscape, hackers are evolving. They continue to develop new strategies for launching cyber-attacks. They rely on the old attacks too but are using them more creatively.

Just recently, I received an unsolicited email from someone impersonating Optimum that my Internet bill is unpaid. The hacker had shared instructions to pay the bill via PayPal to avoid the late payment fine. I called the Optimum customer service number to inquire about this email (as I had paid my bill already) and it turned out to be a phishing scam.

Fortunately, modern technology and tools have enabled organizations to identify and fix vulnerabilities within the network, system, and apps that might be exposed to a cyberattack. Pen testing is one such tool. Let’s learn how it can help.

What Is Pen Testing?

Pen or penetration testing is a method of delving into an organization’s IT environment for identifying how a hacker can exploit the vulnerabilities. This process is also known as ethical hacking where the pen testers mimic to be hackers but with permission.

This test helps in discovering blind spots hackers can use for breaching an existing cybersecurity framework. This is a perfect way of improving your security posture and prioritize fixing vulnerabilities based on the risk.

How Can Pen Testing Help Detect Weaknesses?

As mentioned earlier, pen testing examines all possible attack surfaces before a deadly cyberattack happens in real-time. Since the best defense is a good offense, this test complements your existing cybersecurity measures.

Here are some ways pen testing helps in detecting weaknesses:

Unravel Critical Security Flaws

Pen testing identifies vulnerabilities within your network before the hackers do. They scan the network, operating systems, physical devices, and apps to uncover critical vulnerabilities that may compromise security. This empowers you to detect the obvious and hidden weaknesses. Once the report identifies all flaws, you can take measures accordingly.

Prioritize Remediation

Not only does pen testing examine possible attacks, it also helps design a remedy in the form of a short-term and long-term plan.

Start by tackling the most dangerous vulnerabilities first and then move to the next. The vulnerability report will empower your cybersecurity team to make better decisions.

Develop Security Measures

While testing, security experts will come across gaps in the existing security protocols. A summary of these findings will help you bridge the gap and amplify the security.

You will get actionable insights and recommendations to eliminate security weaknesses and revamp your security processes.

Comply With Security Regulations

Every organization must adhere to the standard protocols created by HIPPA, ISO 27001, GDPR, and other governing authorities. Non-compliance can result in heavy penalties.

Through pen testing, as you evaluate your IT assets, this gives you a chance to evaluate your security protocols to ensure they comply with the industry security regulations.

How to Perform Penetration Testing

There are a variety of ways to perform pen testing. Here are some common methods:

1.    External Testing

In this type of test, all visible assets of a company are evaluated starting from any web app used, company’s website, DNS, email, and more. The purpose of this test is to extract all valuable company data.

2.    Internal Testing

The internal test is performed to access apps behind the organization’s firewall to launch an attack using a malicious insider. This insider is not always an employee but it starts with an employee. For instance, compromised employee credentials because of a phishing attack leading to a bigger attack.

3.    Blind Testing

In this test, the tester is given the name of the target organization. He takes a real-time look into any useful medium to launch an attack.

4.    Double-Blind Testing

The security personnel in this type of test doesn’t have prior knowledge of the attack in question. They have very little time to build up a defense before the breach takes place.

5.    Targeted Testing

In target testing, the security personnel and tester work together to test the network and other assets of the organization. Through this exercise, real-time feedback is generated from a hacker’s perspective.

Conclusion

All a hacker needs is one gap in your network or IT infrastructure to launch an attack that can cost millions. Don’t leave these gaps uncovered. Use the power of penetration testing to identify and fix them.

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