Protect Against Cyberattacks: Essential Penetration Testing Steps You Must Take

Every minute, $17,700 (over Β£14,000) is lost due to phishing attacks.

When cybercriminals are successful in their attacks, not only is money and time lost, but also your data security. Your clients trust you to keep their data safe, and if there is a security breach, all that hard-earned trust can be gone in a minute.

Because of this, it’s vital you’re vigilant about finding network vulnerabilities and fixing them. To do so, you must perform penetration testing.

In this article, learn the penetration testing steps you need to take to make your network more secure.

What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is also known as “pen testing” or “ethical hacking.” As the name suggests, this is where someone tries to hack and infiltrate your system. This can be either your IT department or a third-party penetration tester.

You might think this is only done with your actual online presence, but pen testing goes deeper than that. Not only does it test your technology, but also your workforce.

For instance, phishing attacks rely on social engineering tactics rather than actual hacking. So ensuring your employees are up-to-speed on phishing warning signs is crucial.

As you can see, the penetration testing process is very thorough. It finds and plugs up any holes in your operations, whether it’s with your technology, processes, or people.

Penetration Testing Steps

Now that you know what penetration testing is, the next thing you’re probably wondering is how to do penetration testing. Read on to find out about each step.

Pre-Engagement

Before you deploy a penetration test, you need to first establish what you wish to achieve. For example, do you want to make sure your website is secure? Or do you want to see if your workers understand how to avoid falling victim to phishing attacks?

The answer to what you wish to achieve will greatly affect what exactly is carried out for the pen test.

Intelligence Gathering

Next, you need to do research on your business’s system architecture, as well as other important information, such as data flow and infrastructure. The better you can understand how the processes and technology of your company are set up, the deeper you can delve in your penetration testing.

Research can be conducted on all sorts of venues and platforms, including the dark web. Essentially, you’re trying to leave no stone unturned regarding information on these subjects.

Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance is similar to intelligence gathering. However, instead of researching concepts related to your processes and technology, you’re researching your own scoped environment.

Here, you’ll look into your systems and applications to learn more about what may potentially be a vulnerability, which you’ll build upon in the next step.

Vulnerability Analysis

Now, you’ll confirm your suspicions by running vulnerability scanning tools on your scoped environment. It’s important that once you receive the report, you go through each one and make sure they’re actual vulnerabilities and not any anomalies or mistaken vulnerabilities.

An important additional step is after you’ve used these scanning tools, you should go through your scoped environment and try to identify any vulnerabilities manually.

As you can imagine, this step in how to perform penetration testing is the most time-consuming.

Exploitation (Actual Penetration Test)

Now that you’ve identified all the possible vulnerabilities possible, it’s time to try and hack your own system.

Remember the goals set out in the pre-engagement step? This is also where you try and reach them. This can be anything from doing website pen testing to exploiting vulnerabilities in any web applications your company may have.

If you’re successful in reach, the goals set forth in the pre-engagement step, then you should go back to the intelligence-gathering phase and work your way up to exploitation to further pinpoint problem areas in this exploited system.

Post-Exploitation

Once you’re satisfied with the exploitation step, you need to make sense of all the data you’ve gathered.

For example, you may have found a myriad of vulnerabilities in your company. However, not all are created equal, nor do you have the time and resources to tackle all of them at once. Because of this, you need to sort through all the vulnerabilities and prioritise them for your business.

In this step, you might determine that further retesting is needed for certain areas.

Conclusion and Summary

After prioritising your company’s vulnerabilities for fixes, you may have to put all this information in a neater packet to present to other business stakeholders. It may be beneficial to group vulnerabilities by type (such as website or web application) and then the order of importance.

Hire a Professional Penetration Tester for the Best Results

While it’s certainly possible to take these penetration testing steps on your own, the best way to really find vulnerabilities in your network is to use professionals. These people have years of experience in the industry, not to mention also the proper training needed to thoroughly protect your business.

View it the way you would with plumbing issues. While you may be able to fix the problem yourself, it’s best if you let a professional plumber handle it. Not only can they do a better job, but they’ll also do it quicker, which saves you your precious time.

With an expert’s services and advice, you’ll be able to protect your company in the best way possible.

Keep Your Network Safe With Penetration Testing

Now that you know the penetration testing steps and the importance of keeping up with cybersecurity, hopefully, you’re better equipped to deal with anything hackers throw at your company.

By being vigilant about your digital security and constantly keeping up with all updates and patches, you can be sure that all the data you handle will remain in safe hands.

Are you ready to find and fix your network vulnerabilities? Then book a scoping call with us now.