All companies should use penetration testing to keep hackers away from their IT systems. Businesses, especially those that rely on a computer system, must be aware of vulnerabilities within their infrastructure. Web attackers work diligently to find loopholes in systems to penetrate security and compromise the system, or steal information.

Hackers can steal sensitive data, or just take an entire system hostage to prevent the company from conducting business. Once a hacker is inside a system, they have access to all information. Also, they have the ability to shut down the entire computer system. To keep IT infrastructure safe, experts use penetration testing. This is also known as pen test for short. It simulates an outside attack on the system.

a black button with the words system security breach on it

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing verifies if a computer system is susceptible to a cyber assault. The test will indicate if all company computer system protections are adequate, and what parts of the IT infrastructure are easily compromised.

Problems with the computer system security, discovered by a penetration test are then given to the system owner or board of directors for large corporations. The test clearly defines each situation in detail. Therefore, IT professionals can focus their efforts on reinforcing protections. This way, they will not waste valuable time searching for the access point.

The pen test will also provide an assessment of risk associated with the vulnerabilities and suggest measures to reduce, or ultimately eliminate the risk altogether. The results of the penetration test allow management to determine potential damages. This refers to the impact potential attacks could have on the functions of the organization.

Benefits of Penetration Testing

Penetrating testing uses one of an assortment of software applications, plus they have the ability to be performed manually by IT professionals. The procedure consists of collecting data about the target point prior to the test. Each type of test identifies all achievable access spots a hacker could use.

The key rationale behind penetration testing is to determine security flaws. A pen test also is an excellent tool that can test an organization’s computer security measures and essential compliance policies. Penetration tests can calculate how aware employees are about these various security risks. They also pinpoint an organization’s capacity to recognize loopholes in their IT security. These issues have the potential to cause devastating results.

A team of pen test professionals will use one of these methods to break through security measures and access the company’s system. Reports are generated after the completion of each method so that management can determine what steps are necessary to correct potential problems and remove the risk of attack.

Methods of Penetration Testing

1. External Testing

If a company wants to target external servers or devices, they employ an external penetration test. This type of pen test focuses on things like domain name servers (DNS), email accounts control servers, Web servers, or protective firewalls.

The administration of this type of penetration test will divulge the ways an attacker might be able to access the company’s Internet presence, including all information held on private, or public servers. By analyzing the results of an external Pen test management will be able to appreciate where they could be vulnerable to a hacker’s attack.

a digital screen with binary code and a red lock

2. Internal Testing

Unfortunately, there are also those within a business or organization who aspire to hack into sensitive company information for their own profit. An internal penetration test is similar to an external test. Still, it performs the operation as if it were coming from inside the system firewall.

Penetration testing from an internal point uncovers ways that authorized users could comprise sensitive company information. This could be employee information or company secrets, protected and for view only by authorized employees.

The internal test is especially valuable for organizations that regard certain types of sensitive research and investigation data as top secret. Internal penetration testing provides an estimate of exactly how much damage a disgruntled or disloyal employee could create if the penetrated the IT infrastructure from within the system firewall.

3. Blind Testing

The strategy behind a blind test is to try to simulate an authentic attacker. A blind penetration test accomplishes this by mirroring the actions of a person or a group of people who have limited information about the system under attack.

The IT team performing blind penetration testing normally knows little more than the name of the company they are testing. A blind penetration test requires the services of highly specialized IT professionals. Therefore, these tests can be costly.

This is one important reason why the previous types of testing should be conducted on a scheduled basis. This way, they will prevent the need for blind penetration testing.

4. Double-Blind Testing

Maybe the most useful penetration test incorporates the methods used in the blind test but takes the process to an even higher level. When a company conducts a double-blind test, very few people will even know that there is a test happening.

This type of penetration testing becomes imperative when clear evidence indicates there has been a compromising of the system from inside the company. If the issue involves theft or embezzlement, orchestrating the double-blind penetration testing may also involve law enforcement or a legal team.

A double-blind penetration test is the most serious method of testing a company IT infrastructure. A business requires this test in certain situations. It usually indicates that at some level the company security or compliance policies are deficient in protecting their system.

Putting It All Together

These are four of the most common methods of penetrating testing, as each one assesses a priority objective. The vital security of an IT infrastructure is vulnerable if any of these tests fail. The more critical the information, the more important it is to follow sound penetration test procedures.

While there are other tests that companies can perform on a regular basis, these will uncover the most serious issues. The idea behind maintaining a secure IT structure is to continually utilize the benefits of penetration testing. Once a hacker gets in your IT system, it may be too late.

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