Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is an essential cybersecurity practice that involves a skilled professional attempting to uncover and exploit weaknesses in computer systems. This simulated attack is designed to assess the effectiveness of a system’s defense mechanisms and reveal any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. Through pen testing, organizations can stay ahead of security threats and prevent potential attacks.
To give an example of what this looks like, imagine a high-stakes game of cat and mouse as a bank hires an individual to play the role of a burglar and attempt to break into their building. The ultimate objective is to gain access to the all-important vault. This clever strategy allows the bank to gain valuable insight into exactly how vulnerable their security measures are. If the imitation burglar succeeds, the bank will be able to take immediate action to fortify its defenses and ensure its customers’ assets are protected. This is basically how penetration testing works. Any weaknesses or vulnerabilities discovered are reported, and an organization can then make the necessary changes to its security practices.
Who Performs Penetration Testing?
A pen test can be a crucial step in securing a system, but it’s not just about identifying the obvious vulnerabilities that automated testing could catch. In fact, the most valuable insights come from pen testers who are unfamiliar with the system. Often referred to as ‘ethical hackers,’ these contractors are brought in to identify blind spots. They use real-world techniques that are currently in use by malicious actors to not just identify gaps, but how several seemingly minor vulnerabilities could be linked together to create a much bigger threat. It’s a delicate balancing act – hacking into a system ethically – but the results lead to a more secure environment.
Ethical hacking is more than just a skillset; it’s a diverse and dynamic field that attracts a wide range of experts. Some ethical hackers hold impressive credentials, with advanced degrees and official certifications in pen testing. Yet others come from unconventional backgrounds and learned their skills through trial and error, often by transitioning from the dark side of hacking to the light. However, to find the best ethical hacker for a specific job, it is essential to consider the target company and the objectives of the pen test. In this way, pen testing is both an art and a science, tailored to meet the unique needs of each organization.
How is Penetration Testing Carried Out?
A crucial component of pen testing involves an initial phase of reconnaissance, where a skilled ethical hacker painstakingly collects the raw materials necessary to craft their simulated assault. From there, the emphasis shifts to actively infiltrating and persistently controlling the target system, a feat that demands a diverse arsenal of specialized tools and techniques.
Unleashing a successful hack depends on having the right arsenal, and savvy ethical hackers know how to deploy an array of tools and tactics to uncover vulnerabilities within a network. Whether it’s software programs specifically designed to carry out forceful brute attacks or SQL injections, or small, innocuous-looking boxes that can be plugged into a computer to remotely infiltrate a network, these hackers have at their disposal a diverse range of hardware and software to uncover potential security gaps. But that’s only half the battle. The most experienced ethical hackers understand that human touch can further open doors. Through the use of social engineering techniques, where, for instance, the hacker can send fake emails to employees or even show up at the company disguised as a delivery person or tech support, they exploit the human tendency to trust.
How Can Penetration Testing Help You?
Penetration testing is a powerful tool that can help organizations identify and patch up system vulnerabilities before they are exposed. Investing in proper pen tests now will save you time and money down the road—not to mention give you peace of mind knowing that your sensitive information is secure. With the team at FIT Solutions, you can rest assured knowing you’re getting the absolute best penetration testing services around. For more information about penetration testing or any of the other services we offer, contact us today.