• 3,000 firms
  • Independent
  • Trusted
Save up to 70% on staff

Home » Articles » Solving cybercrime with penetration testing

Solving cybercrime with penetration testing

Today’s online lifestyle has produced a hyper-connected and information-driven world. Organizations must, therefore, remain ever-vigilant in securing their digital fortresses against those seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. 

Penetration testing is a proactive approach that lets businesses assess the resilience of their systems and uncover potential weaknesses before cybercriminals do. 

This article explores the power of penetration testing as a defense mechanism, its methodologies, and its crucial role in safeguarding information.

What is penetration testing? 

Penetration testing, also called ethical hacking or, more casually, pen tests, is a proactive cybersecurity assessment technique. 

It involves systematically stimulating an attack on a computer system, network, or application to identify vulnerabilities and assess security posture. 

The primary objective of penetration testing is to identify weaknesses in the target system’s security defenses before malicious attackers can exploit them. 

Get 3 free quotes 2,300+ BPO SUPPLIERS

Controlled and authorized attacks let organizations gain insights into their security deficiencies and take appropriate measures to mitigate risks. 

Penetration testing is a vital element in a cybersecurity strategy. Specialized professionals or external firms often perform it in an authorized environment to avoid causing harm or disruption to systems and data. 

What is penetration testing 
What is penetration testing ?

Types of penetration testing

There are several types of penetration testing, each with its own approach and objectives. 

Below are the main types:

Black box testing

In black box testing, the tester has no prior knowledge of the target system’s infrastructure or internal workings. They approach the system as an external attacker without any insider information. 

This type of penetration testing helps identify vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit with minimal internal knowledge.

White box testing 

White box testing, also called clear box or transparent testing, involves the tester’s full knowledge of the target system’s architecture, source code, and internal workings. 

Get the complete toolkit, free

This allows them to thoroughly assess the system’s security measures, pinpointing vulnerabilities that might not be evident from an external perspective.

Grey box testing

Grey box testing incorporates elements from both black box and white box testing. Testers have partial knowledge of the target system’s environment, such as basic network information or access credentials. 

This approach strikes a balance between simulating external attacks and leveraging internal insights to identify vulnerabilities effectively.

External testing 

External penetration testing evaluates the security of externally facing systems, such as web servers, domain controllers, and email servers. 

Testers attempt to exploit vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers approaching from outside the organization’s network.

External testing 
Types of penetration testing

Internal testing

Internal penetration testing involves assessing the security of internal network segments, systems, and resources. Testers simulate scenarios where attackers gain internal access, such as through compromised user accounts or devices. 

This type of testing helps identify potential lateral movement and escalation of privileges.

Penetration testing process

The penetration testing process can be divided into several phases. While the specific steps may vary depending on the methodology used and the scope of the engagement, the general process typically includes the following:

1. Planning and scoping

The first phase defines the objectives, scope, and rules of engagement for the test. 

This involves determining the systems or applications and the methods to be used, including clear goals and expectations. 

2. Information gathering and reconnaissance 

Testers gather information about the target system or network. They collect publicly available information, scan networks, and identify potential risks. 

3. Vulnerability scanning and analysis 

Automated tools and manual techniques are used to scan target systems to identify known vulnerabilities. This helps create a baseline understanding of the potential weaknesses and areas where further testing is required. 

4. Exploitation and penetration 

This serves as the main phase of penetration testing. Testers attempt to exploit the identified vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access or perform specific actions. 

This mainly involves using different attack techniques, such as social engineering, network intrusion, or application-level exploitation, to access sensitive information or take control. 

5. Post-exploitation and persistence

If the testers successfully access the target system, they will explore the potential impact of an attacker. They may attempt to escalate privileges or maintain persistence within the system.

6. Reporting and documentation

Once the testing phase is complete, the penetration team documents and analyzes the findings. 

They prepare a comprehensive report containing details of vulnerabilities discovered, their severity, and recommendations. 

7. Remediation and retesting

After receiving the report, the organization’s IT and security teams should prioritize and address the issues and implement appropriate security controls. 

When remediation is complete, teams can retest to confirm that the vulnerabilities have been effectively mitigated. 

8. Continuous improvement

Penetration testing is not a one-time activity but an ongoing aspect of a robust security program. 

Regularly conducting penetration tests helps identify emerging threats, address new vulnerabilities, and continuously improve their security posture. 

Continuous improvement
Penetration testing process

Why is penetration testing performed?

Penetration testing is performed for a variety of reasons, all aimed at improving the security of an organization’s systems and data.

Here are some key reasons why penetration testing is conducted:

Assessing security controls 

Penetration testing evaluates the effectiveness of existing security controls and measures in place. 

It helps determine if the implemented security measures are functioning as intended or if they need to be strengthened.

Testing incident response capability 

Penetration testing can assess the organization’s incident response plan and capabilities. It allows organizations to simulate a real-world attack scenario and evaluate their ability to detect, respond to, and recover from an attack.

Meeting compliance requirements

Many industries and regulatory frameworks require organizations to perform penetration testing as part of their compliance obligations. 

By conducting regular penetration tests, organizations can demonstrate compliance with industry standards and regulatory requirements.

Enhancing security awareness 

Penetration testing can raise employees’ awareness of the importance of security and the potential risks they face. It can help educate employees on identifying and responding to potential security threats, such as social engineering attacks.

Building customer trust 

Performing penetration tests demonstrates an organization’s commitment to security and safeguarding customer data. 

It reassures customers, partners, and stakeholders about protecting their information and establishes trust in the organization’s security practices.

Proactive risk management

Penetration testing is a proactive measure that helps organizations identify and address security risks before they can be exploited. 

By conducting regular testing, organizations can stay ahead of emerging threats, minimize potential damages, and keep up with evolving attack techniques.

Get Inside Outsourcing

An insider's view on why remote and offshore staffing is radically changing the future of work.

Order now

Start your
journey today

  • Independent
  • Secure
  • Transparent

About OA

Outsource Accelerator is the trusted source of independent information, advisory and expert implementation of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

The #1 outsourcing authority

Outsource Accelerator offers the world’s leading aggregator marketplace for outsourcing. It specifically provides the conduit between world-leading outsourcing suppliers and the businesses – clients – across the globe.

The Outsource Accelerator website has over 5,000 articles, 450+ podcast episodes, and a comprehensive directory with 3,900+ BPO companies… all designed to make it easier for clients to learn about – and engage with – outsourcing.

About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.

“Excellent service for outsourcing advice and expertise for my business.”

Learn more
Banner Image
Get 3 Free Quotes Verified Outsourcing Suppliers
3,000 firms.Just 2 minutes to complete.
Learn more

Connect with over 3,000 outsourcing services providers.

Banner Image

Transform your business with skilled offshore talent.

  • 3,000 firms
  • Simple
  • Transparent
Banner Image