A penetration tester (pentester) is a computer security professional who performs penetration tests. Penetration testing is the practice of attacking a computer system or network to find security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. The goal of a penetration test is to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in the system in order to assess the system’s security posture.
Penetration testers use a variety of methods to attempt to break into systems, including exploiting known vulnerabilities, guessing passwords, and social engineering. If successful, penetration testers can gain access to sensitive data or systems, which could be used by hackers to launch attacks against the organization. Once vulnerabilities are identified, the tester may exploit them to gain access to the system or network. The penetration tester’s final report will identify the vulnerabilities that were found and provide recommendations for mitigating the risk of exploitation.
Penetration testers are often employed by organizations that need to assess the security of their systems, including businesses, government agencies, and military organizations. Penetration testing is an important part of any organization’s security strategy and can help identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by hackers.
Penetration testing has been around for many years. The first documented penetration test was conducted in the early 1950s by the United States Air Force. In the 1970s, penetration testing was used by the United States Department of Defense to test the security of computer systems. Today, penetration testing is used by organizations of all sizes to test the security of their computer systems and networks. Penetration testing is also used by security professionals to learn about the security of systems and networks.
Penetration testers use a variety of tools to assess the security of systems. Some of these tools are listed below.
- Nmap – a network exploration and security auditing tool
- Metasploit – a penetration testing toolkit
- Wireshark – a network protocol analyzer
- Burp Suite – a web application security testing tool
- Acunetix – a web application security scanner John the Ripper – a password cracking tool
- Nikto – a web server security scanner
- OpenVAS – a framework for vulnerability scanning
- and many other
Skills required for penetration testing include the knowledge of:
- Networking fundamentals
- Operating systems and applications
- Security vulnerabilities and exploits
- How to use automated tools to identify and exploit vulnerabilities
- Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Ability to work independently
- Strong attention to detail
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
The following certificates are industry standards for penetration testers:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Security Analyst (CSA)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- GIAC Penetration Tester
- Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)
Certified Penetration Tester (CPT) is a certification offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council). The CPT certification is designed for experienced penetration testers who want to demonstrate their skills in conducting penetration tests. To be eligible for the CPT certification, candidates must have a minimum of two years of experience in penetration testing and must pass a certification exam. The exam covers a range of topics, including penetration testing methods, tools, and techniques; vulnerability assessment; and attack vectors. The CPT certification is valid for three years. To maintain the certification, candidates must complete at least 60 hours of continuing education credits every three years.
Penetration testers are typically individuals who have a strong technical background and are interested in security. The specific education and experience required to become a penetration tester may vary depending on the individual’s qualifications and experience. However, some common areas of study that may be beneficial for those interested in becoming a penetration tester include information security, computer science, and network engineering. Additionally, it is often beneficial to have experience in ethical hacking and vulnerability assessment. A penetration tester’s salary can vary depending on their level of experience, the size of the company they work for, and the region of the world they are employed in. In the United States, the average salary for a penetration tester is $92,000 per year.