Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a vital area when it comes to following a comprehensive cybersecurity policy. Penetration testing is important as it helps an organization understand security vulnerabilities more effectively.

Penetration testing is sometimes confused with vulnerability scanning. However, the two processes vary in functionality. Vulnerability scanning aims to discover vulnerabilities and report them. The goal of a penetration test is to find and exploit vulnerabilities in a system.

Furthermore, penetration testing takes the perspective of a prospective attacker. This may highlight unexpected loopholes in the process while enabling tighter security practices in the long run.
Why do companies need penetrationtesting?

As the world becomes more connected through technology, cyber attacks also continue to rise from across the world. By 2023, it is expected that the global cybersecurity market will hit $248.26 billion in value. Thereby, it increasingly more important to test your company's existing systems for vulnerabilities. Actively exploiting these vulnerabilities would enable a better understanding of your organization's shortcomings in the cybersecurity space. After all, a company's systems can be comprised in countless ways.

Take the 2018 Marriot(Starwood) case. It was reported that a database containing up to 500 million accounts had been compromised in a major data breach. Attackers had gained access toover 300 million accounts containing names, addresses, contact information and passport numbers. To make matters worse, reports also indicate that the hacking might have been happening since 2014. A thorough pen test would have likely detected this vulnerability early on hence, the possibility of stronger preventive measures.

But vulnerabilities do not always occur in the form of a technical weakness. The recent Twitter hack demonstrates that even the most high-profiletech companies can be compromised with mere social engineering skill. Therefore, a proactive cybersecurity setup via penetration testing is crucial for business continuity in today's digital landscape.

What penetration testing looks like in brief?

Ideally, penetration testing should be carried out by a cybersecurity professional who has no real idea about the company's inner workings. This would ensure that no biasness comes into play when carrying out penetration tests. As such, companies usually bring in outside professionals to perform pen tests. These professionals are often referred to as ethical hackers.

A typical penetration test starts with reconnaissance. This is where the ethical hacker gathers all the required data. This is followed by scanning the systems to expand findings. For example, a tool like Nmap could be utilized to scan for open ports. Of course, penetration testing entails a variety of tools used to carry out specific attacks. Few of the common tools include testing for SQL injection attacks, exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities, social engineering attacks, etc.

Once enough data is gathered, the next step is to gain access to the systems. Here, an attacker would launch a payload to compromise the targeted system. If the system is exploited successfully, the next step would be to maintain access as much as possible. This would help determine how much valuable data can be collected.

Finally, the ethical hacker should cover tracks. The idea is to remain anonymous and as such any trace of data gathering, event logs, embedded hardware used for the process, etc. need to be removed.

Different approaches to penetrationtesting
  1. White box pen test

    The ethical hacker is provided with information pertaining to the target system prior to carrying out the test.

  2. Black box pen test

    This is the opposite of a white box pen test, where the hacker is provided with no information other than the target system's name. This is also referred to as 'blind test'.

  3. Covert pen test

    This is a more extreme version of black-box testing. Under covert pen tests, almost nobody within the company would have any knowledge of the pen test. This includes IT and security personnel. The idea is to test the entire cybersecurity process as well as the response procedures inside the company.

    Prior to conducting a covert pen test its vital to clearly define scope and methodology of the procedure in writing. This would ensure any potential issues with law enforcement.

    This test is also known as a "double-blind test".

  4. External pen test

    As the name implies, these tests are carried out externally. Thereby, the pen testers would attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in the company's external-facing technologies like the website and off-premises servers. In some instances, the target company may even restrict the hacker from physically entering the premises as well.

  5. Internal pen test

    This is the opposite of an external pen test. Here, the test will be carried out within the company's internal systems. The aim is to determine how vulnerable a company's systems are from the inside as opposed to an attack from an outside party.

How C-YBER can help you?

Be it internal, external, or covert penetration testing, we at C-YBER can accommodate all your penetration testing requirements. So if you're looking to seriously beef up your existing cybersecurity procedures, look no further.

Not sure what type of penetration testing is needed for your company? Not to worry. Our team of experts will help you every step of the way. After all, its better you find all your security loopholes before someone else does!

You can either email us on or give us a call on (+372) 602 3532.