How To Perform A Successful Network Penetration Test
Cybersecurity threats are the #1 concern for every company. Just one attack can cost millions of dollars, completely shut down operations, or destroy a reputation. A network penetration test will solve this problem and be able to secure the business. Let’s get to know it better and find out how to execute it successfully.
Network penetration test – is the process of checking the software system of a site or application to identify security vulnerabilities. It is carried out as a simulation of a cyber attack and is most often carried out by white hat hackers. At the same time, specialists have legal access to the entire system. In the end, the company receives a detailed report with all the data on vulnerabilities and opportunities to improve the network and the security system as a whole.
Unlike a similar process – vulnerability assessment – a penetration test gives a more realistic picture of the state of the security system, because. how it is conducted based on potential attacks.
How to Perform a Successful Network Penetration Test
To conduct a test, it is enough to complete 4 stages: collecting information and the scope of the test, reconnaissance, and research, the penetration test itself, and collecting a report with further recommendations.
Stage 1. Collection of information and scope of the test
This stage is based on the analysis of the entire system and the selection of the most appropriate test methods. So, each network asset is examined, the volume of the future invasion is selected and its boundaries are outlined.
When choosing a method of conducting, 3 main testing options are considered:
- Black box. It is carried out according to the scenario as if a hacker wants to hack the system with minimal knowledge of the network functionality or a complete lack of awareness about them. It takes the least time, because. is focused on checking the vulnerabilities of only the external network to assess the possibility of a targeted attack. Tools: Applitools, Selenium, etc.
- gray box. It is carried out on the condition that the hacker already has an idea about the functioning of the network. In the course of the action, both internal and external vulnerabilities are checked. The option is great for identifying problems at the stages of a possible hack: login data, internal information, documents, etc. Tools: NUnit, Burp Suite, Postman, etc.
- White box. It is carried out to identify any possible vulnerabilities, and to check the overall permeability of the network. It takes a lot of time but gives a complete picture of the state of the security system. Tools: GoogleTest, RCUNIT, etc.
It is important to understand exactly how and when it is best to conduct a test, what information will be used for this, and what vulnerabilities the operations will focus on.
Stage 2. Exploration and research
To get information about vulnerabilities and their location, you should use reconnaissance – a port scanner. When the data is found, it is necessary to investigate the entire path of the hack. For example, which network ports were open. Tools: NetScanTools, Port Authority, etc.
Packet analysis is also used for intelligence – this is the search and study of data packets that pass through the network. With its help, it is possible to find and investigate fake packages that are used by attackers. Tools: Network Mapper or Wireshark.
At this stage, an analysis is carried out both from a technical point of view and from a human point of view. That is, the study of all possible hacking scenarios is used.
Stage 3. The penetration test itself
It consists in conducting a penetration test based on the received vulnerabilities during stage 2. It uses custom scripts. It is important to check each of the identified problems. The stage is necessary to assess how far an attacker can go when trying to hack and still go unnoticed. Most often, the Metasploit framework is used for its implementation.
Stage 4. Collection of a report with further recommendations
At this stage, all the results that were obtained during the previous manipulations are collected. Together they form the finished report. Then you should start working on the bugs and install updates. In addition, you can implement entire software changes and tools that will provide the proper level of security.
As you can see, network penetration testing is the most important tool for checking the operation of a security system. Thanks to the realistic simulation of a hacker attack, a company can get a full report on the effectiveness and quality of its work. We also analyzed the 4 stages of a successful test. Use them to prevent a possible cyberattack and data leakage into the wrong hands.