30 January

Look at the Types of Penetration Testing And How They Work

According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland, hackers attack every 39 seconds – meaning, on average, you could be exposed to around 2,244 cyber threats per day.

If you have weak spots in your system – ones that leaves your sensitive data exposed to hackers – even a single attack could leave a devastating blow to your business. 

Not to mention the possible the costs of getting your operations back on track after experiencing a cyber attack (among other things).

If you want to set up preventive measures against cyber-attacks and strengthen your security, running a comprehensive penetration test with the help of reliable cybersecurity services or experts is one of the best things you can do. 

Through pen testing, you can uncover vulnerabilities in your systems, identify security risks, and test for insecure functionalities that attackers could exploit.

However, there are different types of penetration testing, and in this post, we’ll talk about the four kinds that can help mitigate your cybersecurity risks.   

Let’s hop to it. 

Social engineering test 

If your employees don’t know how to fight against ransomware attacks, for instance, your data could be withheld from you, and you’d have to pay a specific amount to the attacker to get them back. 

One solution is by conducting a type of pen testing, known as a social engineering test, to help protect you from this type of threat.

The social engineering test is carried out by imitating an attack and initiating a breach or deliberately deceiving your employees into giving out your highly-sensitive business information. 

This type of pen testing can be carried out in two subcategories. 

  • Physical tests. This test requires that you employ human handling techniques such as imitation and intimidating phone calls, for example, to convince your subject to hand over your confidential information. 
  • Remote tests. The test aims to trick your employees to compromising your private business information through electronic methods – commonly through phishing emails. 

By running social engineering tests, you can determine your employees’ level of vulnerability to attacks like phishing scams and ransomware. 

In a way, conducting social engineering tests trains your employees to adhere to your security protocols when handling these kinds of threats – which, in turn, can help reduce your cybersecurity risks.     

2. Internal testing

You can conduct internal penetration testing by exploiting vulnerabilities in client-side app programs like web browsers, Macromedia Flash, emails, and more. 

Conducting the test should help you answer the following questions.

  • How reliable is your business’ attitude towards your cybersecurity?
  • Do you have any vulnerabilities?
  • What are the impacts when an attacker exploits your vulnerabilities?
  • How can a hacker exploit your security vulnerabilities?
  • Are you setting proper employee access controls and privileges?
  • How can you identify your weak points practically and cost-effectively?

The test helps you determine the answers to these questions by pinpointing security threats that can emerge locally and what attackers have internal access to your networks can accomplish.    

For instance, there could be a weakness in a software app running on your test subject’s computer that an attacker could easily exploit. This weakness could easily be identified, located and then resolved when using a pentest company that will look to strengthen your network security.

Keep in mind though that aside from third-party software, threats could emerge internally. 

Using uncertified open-source software, for example, to extend or create locally-developed apps can give rise to system vulnerabilities and security risks – which make it crucial to run your “home-grown” tools through pen testing cycles. 

3. External testing

When it comes to safeguarding your business from cyber-attacks, there are many things that you need to consider – such as keeping your content safe while you market online. 

This makes it crucial for you to ensure that you cover all your bases and have protection measures in place in case of an external attack.

By conducting external penetration tests, you can assess vulnerabilities to check the possibilities of being attacked by a malicious threat actor remotely. 

The test works via a simulation of an attack on your internal network by imitating how an actual attacker will carry out the threat and steal your confidential information. 

By the end of the test, it should show whether or not your implemented security measures are enough to protect your business  and your level of capability to defend against external attacks.

Depending on the goals you want to accomplish for the test, the size of your network, and the complexity of your system, an external test will take around two to three weeks to complete. 

You can talk to your cybersecurity service provider to determine a schedule that works best and one that won’t hinder any of your business operations. Then, they can take an appropriate call as to what nature of testing has to be done that fits your requirements as well.

Additionally, discussing incident response strategies with your provider could prove to be crucial. Understanding how your team and systems would react during and after an actual cyber attack can significantly improve your readiness.

Integrating these discussions into your penetration testing process ensures that not only are you identifying vulnerabilities but also enhancing your overall preparedness and resilience against potential cyber threats.

4. Web application testing

Many cyber-attacks can be carried out via your web applications – which is why running pen testing on your apps is crucial to identify your unknown vulnerabilities. 

You can conduct web application testing by using automated or manual pen testing tools to detect security flaws, threats, and vulnerabilities in your apps. 

The test involves implementing known malicious penetration threats on your apps by simulating an environment and attacks from a hacker’s perspective – like using Structured Query Language (SQL) injection tests. 

By running web application testing, you can determine security weaknesses throughout your entire web app – including its components such as the back-end network, database, and source code. 

Plus, conducting the test will help you prioritize your identified threats, vulnerabilities, and come up with possible ways to mitigate the risks that come with them.

However, this kind of penetration testing is detailed and complex, and it requires the skills and capabilities necessary to conduct the test correctly and thoroughly.

This makes it vital for you to work with cybersecurity experts – one of the most in-demand tech jobs today –  or cybersecurity services for your penetration testing needs and protect your business-critical data from attacks.

Final Thoughts

There are several other types of penetration testing that you can apply to your business, and the four discussed here can be your starting point to help mitigate cybersecurity risks.

By knowing the different kinds of penetration testing and understanding how they can strengthen your cybersecurity, you’ll uncover vulnerabilities in your system, network, web apps, and more, and improve your protection measures.

If this information was useful, please feel free to share it with your network. Cheers!