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What is the life-cycle of Penetration Testing?


With the increase in the growth of the web and mobile applications, organizations are now using these apps as a tool to keep in touch and interact with targeted users. Nevertheless, the increasing dependency on these tools has made it possible for organizations to experience malicious attacks. Hackers use these security vulnerabilities in applications to steal customers’ confidential information, which ultimately results in heavy losses to the organization. 


Penetration testing is a process of testing the security of a system or software application by intentionally and with permission to break its security. It tests the loopholes of the underlying network configuration and operating system. This helps prepare organizations for any possible malicious attacks or avoid potential data leaks. Penetration testing is the safest way to find out the degree of protection of a system by a security protocol. Ethical hackers will expose your security weaknesses and give you an understanding of the measures required to reduce the level of risk.


Meticulous penetration testing can help you evaluate your existing security strategy, plan future improvements, and prove to industry organizations and customers that you will make every effort to protect your organization’s network security. If you are planning to conduct penetration testing via acquiring services of any penetration testing company or asking an in-house team of testers to do, first of all, you need to know what is the process of pen-testing. 


Steps towards effective penetration testing


Following are the tests that must be considered when you just think of conducting penetration testing;


Pre-engagement analysis


Before starting with this cyber-assessment method, it’s important that both you and the service provider you’ve chosen must mutually agree on the scope of the project, financial budget, and the project goals. Starting a project without highlighting these necessary details will be a complete waste of time. The tester might be looking in the wrong place or the results could be watered down by having too broad a scope.


Gathering intellect 


From search engines to the dark web, pen testers use almost every research means to research your organization. This phase is vital because it reveals all the information that is available for the public and can be used against your organization. For example, if your CEO has a public Facebook profile and a special relationship with a cat named Wendy, that might give your attackers a little insight as to what his password might be.


Analyzing Loopholes


The test enters a more active phase. Testers scan the system for vulnerabilities, view your overall IT infrastructure configuration, and search for any open ports or vulnerabilities that may be exploited.


Manipulation


Penetration testers began to exploit these loopholes. This stage determines which vulnerabilities could allow testers to gain “unauthorized” access to your system/information. The goal of this stage is to confirm the existence and exploitability of the vulnerability.


Post-Manipulation 


Entry seems to be the key to penetration testing, but in fact, what customers are most interested in is what an attacker can do once they gain access. Testers will use all available means, including misconfigured services, permissions, and other techniques, to obtain the highest privileges for vulnerable targets. For example, this may include trying to extract or process data or trying to remove a laptop or tablet if it is physically damaged.


House-Keeping 


After successfully completing the test, the tester must ensure that everything is kept where it is found. All scripts or files implanted on the target must be deleted, and any virtual doors that have been pried open should be restored to their original state. It seems that the test never happened.


Delivering report


The information in the penetration testing report is very sensitive and must be kept as a secret from unnecessary people except the agreed stakeholders involved. 


Final Meeting & Debriefing


The final meeting with the security service provider gives you the opportunity to discuss the report’s findings in detail. Penetration testers should be able to suggest the next steps to improve security, whether it’s new protection software or employee safety awareness training. By having the right people attend, you can make the most of this meeting, making it easier to connect with future cybersecurity projects.


Final Words


Penetration testing is the best way to determine the risks and loopholes in your organization and also it assesses your organization’s current status of cybersecurity measures. Penetration testing will simulate the behavior of real cybercriminals, thereby revealing the critical security issues of the system, how to exploit these vulnerabilities, and the steps required to fix these vulnerabilities (before the actual exploitation of these vulnerabilities).


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