Pentesters – the new cybersecurity heroes

Pentesting is exactly what you think it is, penetration testing. A certain simulated attack meant to detect vulnerabilities within a system. While the market of software development and IT outsourcing are constantly growing, the necessity to integrate pentesters is becoming vital.

Remember what the S stands for in HTTPS? Secure. While it is just a basic security measure it is still relevant. It is meant to protect the privacy and integrity of the data on that platform.

Also, privacy is becoming one of the central issues in today’s narrative. Especially since Europe has introduced its GDPR policy that has affected every other nation that is collaborating with Europeans.

However, cyberattacks have become so advanced that not even complex firewalls can protect against them. Understanding what a cyberattack is, is crucial to a business.

What is a cyberattack?

Most dictionaries agree that it is a

  • deliberate action
  • on networks or technology-dependent entities
  • for the result of disrupting, destroying, altering data.

Every 39 seconds there is a hacker attack, according to Security magazine. Also, the “market” for hacking is always growing, making cybercrime more profitable than the illegal drug trade.

However, there is still some good news, as the heroes of the modern age, the pentesters come to the rescue and help businesses.

Black hat vs. White hat

Black hats have malicious intents, always looking to do bad things, and contrasting it, white hats put their knowledge at good use to help to find vulnerabilities before a malicious actor would find these, thus helping companies avoid revenue and repudiation loss that could cripple the business.

White hat hacking is an ethical way of hacking. This is where the term ethical hacking comes from. Some differentiate grey hat hackers as well, meaning hackers with good intentions that penetrate a system without permission (this way of hacking is also illegal).

Pentesting is a serious business

Pentesters have an important mission, they need to assure that no vulnerability passes their gates, vulnerabilities that an attacker could leverage to get into the network. This same work in most cases needs to be done without bringing the network down while running these tests. On the other hand, a black hat hacker doesn’t worry about any collateral damage done during the process, more so, that might be the purpose.

Pentesting process

Hence, there is a certain process that one needs to follow. Usually, it goes like this:

  • Information gathering – is a fundamental stage of the process that requires a lot of patience. The goal is to gather as much information as possible about the system, infrastructure, and business that is under assessment, information that will be used in the following steps.
  • Footprinting and scanning – this stage is for deepening knowledge of the scope servers and service by fingerprinting the used operating system, port scanning, and certain service detecting.
  • Vulnerability assessment – here the pentester builds a list of vulnerabilities, and carefully assesses each of the targets found in the previous steps. One can do it manually or with automated tools. However, these automated tools won’t carry the overall pentesting.
  • Exploitation – since the process is cyclic, it only ends when there are no more targets in-scope to exploit.
  • Reporting – the report explains the result of the pentesting. It is as important as the whole penetration testing process.

This must address the

  • Technique used
  • Vulnerabilities found
  • The impact and risk for each vulnerability
  • And tips for remediation.

Given that human activity in general moves to the virtual world, black hat hackers become the most dangerous enemies of the system that can do the most serious harm to the whole business ecosystem.

As a response to this, ethical hackers appear to help strengthen the system. Hence, pentesting is becoming one of the most in-demand jobs.