Penetration testing is the process of testing a computer system, network, or web application to find vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit. The penetration testing scope will define the boundaries of the penetration test. The scope should include the following: the systems or networks that will be tested, the objectives of the test, the time frame for the test, the methods that will be used in the test, and the personnel who will be conducting the test. The scope and the time frame are agreed upon with the company that orders the testing. Penetration testing is performed by a security professional who is responsible for identifying vulnerabilities in systems and applications.
Components of penetration testing
1. Planning and reconnaissance.
Planning and reconnaissance are important aspects of penetration testing. The goal of reconnaissance is to gain an understanding of the target environment and identify potential vulnerabilities. Planning is all about developing a strategy for attacking the target and identifying the tools and resources that will be needed. There are a number of methods that can be used for reconnaissance and planning.
One common approach is to use a combination of manual and automated methods. Manual methods include using Google search, social media, and other online resources to gather information about the target. Automated methods include using vulnerability scanning tools and penetration testing tools to identify vulnerabilities.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, the next step is to develop a plan for exploiting them. This may involve using exploit tools to exploit known vulnerabilities, or it may involve developing custom exploits. The goal is to gain access to the target environment and to gather information or to take control of systems.
Once access has been gained, the next step is to conduct a post-exploitation assessment to identify the extent of the damage. This may include gathering information about the systems and data that are available, or it may include taking control of systems and installing malware. The goal is to gather as much information as possible about the target environment and the systems that are in it.
2. Scanning and enumeration.
Scanning is the process of identifying systems and devices that are connected to a network. Enumeration is the process of identifying the specific services and ports that are running on those systems. Together, scanning and enumeration allow a penetration tester to map out the network and identify potential targets for attack. There are a variety of tools and techniques that can be used for scanning and enumeration.
In general, these tools can be divided into two categories: passive and active. Passive scanning tools simply listen to traffic on the network and collect information about the systems and devices that are connected. Active scanning tools send packets to the target systems in order to identify the services that are running. Both passive and active scanning tools can be used to identify the IP addresses and port numbers of systems and devices on the network. Passive tools can also be used to identify the operating system and version of a system. Active tools can be used to identify the open ports on a system and the services that are running on those ports.
Once the scanning and enumeration process is complete, the penetration tester can use this information to develop a plan of attack. The targets that are identified by the scanning and enumeration process can be attacked with a variety of tools and techniques, including exploit tools, password-cracking tools, and social engineering techniques.
3. Gaining access.
There are a number of ways to gain access during penetration testing including social engineering, physical security exploits, network security exploits, password cracking, and malware.
4. Maintaining access.
Maintaining access during a penetration test is a critical step that should not be overlooked. The following are a few tips for maintaining access:
- Backdoor password. One way to maintain access is to use a backdoor password. This is a password that is known only to you and the client. This password can be used to regain access to the system if you are ever locked out.
- Backdoor account. Another way to maintain access is to use a backdoor account. This is an account that is known only to you and the client. This account can be used to regain access to the system if you are ever locked out.
- Backdoor script Another way to maintain access is to use a backdoor script. This is a script that is known only to you and the client. This script can be used to regain access to the system if you are ever locked out.
5. Covering tracks.
There are a few ways that you can go about covering your tracks while performing a penetration test. One way is to use a proxy server to hide your IP address. This can be helpful in avoiding detection by intrusion detection systems (IDS) and firewalls. Another way to cover your tracks is to use encryption to protect your communications. This can help to keep your activities hidden from prying eyes. Additionally, you can use steganography to hide your activities in plain sight. Finally, you can use disposable accounts and devices to help keep your identity and activities hidden. This can be helpful in avoiding detection and tracking by adversaries.
Organizations need penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities in their networks so that they can fix them before an attacker can exploit them. Penetration testing can also help organizations assess their security posture and identify areas where they need to improve their security controls. Penetration testing can show the steps that can be taken to improve the security of a computer system and protect it from attack. Some of them include installing a firewall to protect the system from unauthorized access, using up-to-date antivirus software, updating the operating system and other software applications regularly, using strong passwords and changing them regularly, avoiding the installation of software or open attachments from unknown sources, being aware of phishing scams and not clicking on links or open attachments from suspicious emails, and using a secure browser extension to protect the online privacy.