What are the Different Penetration Testing Methods?

Businesses driven by infotech spend thousands of dollars to ensure hackers can’t enter their systems. Yet, they still fail sometimes. 

This is mainly due to two reasons; First, cybercriminals are ahead of them and second, their security measures have loopholes. 

Lately, malicious actors are targeting the healthcare industry. That’s why it’s expected to spend $125 billion on cybersecurity. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? 

So, what’s safer than attacking your own system to identify and address any vulnerable elements? This robust technique is called penetration testing, and this blog is all about its different methods.

 

External Pen Testing

External pentesting techniques include finding and assessing vulnerabilities to review the probability of getting exploited by a remote cybercriminal. This works by spotting the information available to outsiders by simulating an attack. 

To meet the goal of penetration testing, a tester tries to find and exploit vulnerabilities to steal sensitive information from a company. This is done to evaluate if the implemented security measures are strong enough to bar threat actors from accessing a system. 

Typically, it takes anywhere between 14 to 21 days to complete this manual penetration testing method. However, the time frame varies depending on your system’s model, network range and bandwidth, and pentesting expectations.

In the end, the tester also submits a report suggesting rectification and additional security measures for the utmost safety.

Common Examples of External Pen Testing

  • Authentication Testing
  • Authorization Testing
  • Client Side Testing
  • Test for Weak Cryptography

Common External Testing Methods

  • Footprinting: Used to collect maximum data about a specific targeted computer system, infrastructure, and network. The aim is to find and penetrate any weak points.
  • Checking Information Leakages: Where an application uncovers sensitive data that an attacker can exploit.
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) Testing: A device or application meant to examine all network traffic.
  • Password Strength Testing: Measures the effectiveness of a system’s password against trial and error guesses by hackers. 

Internal Pen Testing

This internal method is second among the five network penetration testing techniques. It uses a distinct approach to deal with attacks that follows the external one.

The primary motive for deploying this method is to find out what could be stolen, hacked, modified, or corrupted by a hacker having internal access to your organization’s system. This person can be a cybercriminal, an internal staff member, or a third-party contractor.

After identifying susceptibilities, penetration testers attack them to determine how deeply they can impact the system. 

Before appointing an expert who knows how to do penetration testing step by step, make sure you know the following:

  • Expectations from the penetration test
  • The definite number of workstations on a network
  • The definite number of servers
  • The definite number of available internal and external IPs

Elements Assessed in Internal Penetration Testing

  • Computer Systems
  • Firewalls
  • Local Servers
  • Wireless Connections
  • IDS/IPS
  • Access Points

Common Internal Testing Methods

  • Port Scanning: Where an ethical hacker sends a message to every port and assesses the responses to determine any weaknesses.
  • Database Security Control Testing: A manual penetration testing method that checks if data and resources are protected against attacks. 
  • Administrator Privilege Escalation Testing: Where a tester tries to gain unauthorized access to systems within a security range.
  • Internal Network Scanning: Used to spot active hosts and services that can be hacked. 

Blind Pen Testing

This is a result-oriented security methodology with comprehensive penetration testing. Testers are given very little information, which is usually just the organization’s name with no background details offered. 

Blind pen testing provides a real-time simulation to software teams. It gives them a fair idea about how a criminal can enter and attack their system.

This penetration methodology allows businesses to gain the best insights into weaknesses of their IT structure. Although expensive, blind pen testing is highly efficient. It takes a lot of time and effort to complete, with various penetration testing tools to plan and execute the entire exercise.

 

Double-Blind Pen Testing

With the double-blind penetration testing method, employees are unaware that a pentest has been performed. The hired hacker simulates an attack and watches for the employees’ response. This method tests team preparedness for a real-world intrusion.

As one of the five methods of penetration testing techniques, double-blind pen testing monitors security provisions and measures, incident identification, and response exercises. This is done by carefully planning each stage of the penetration test.

 

Targeted Pen Testing

Ethical hackers use various types of penetration testing methods to help businesses secure crucial data. In the targeted network penetration testing technique, hacker and security teams work cohesively to check each other’s efficiency and approach. 

It’s synonymously referred to as the ‘lights-on’ technique because testers are supposed to note the in-and-out time.

Targeted manual penetration testing methods offer real-time feedback on progression of hackers and emerging attacks.

 

Final Thoughts

The first half of 2021 experienced an uptick of 102% in ransomware attacks against the first half of 2020. Alarming statistics like these propel companies to invest in cybersecurity. Still, always consider both the risks and benefits of penetration testing to make a sound decision.

Knowing the full scope of the mentioned five network penetration testing techniques will help company decision-makers choose wisely for their system security. Whether you use one technique, or a combination pentests are only as efficient as the execution of final recommendations.

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