The 2020 Cyber Security Breaches Survey showed that 32% of businesses and 22% of charities in the UK suffer a cyber-attack at least once a week.
Penetration testing is an emerging data protection method. It requires a proper penetration testing methodology.
Penetration testing identifies the possibility and impact of a cyber-attack. It does so using many of the same methods as potential attackers.
Network pen testing can be a complex process and requires multiple steps. It's important to find the best professionals to perform this essential security measure.
Read our penetration testing guide to find out how it's performed and the most common methodologies used.
What is a Penetration Test?
Penetration testing is also known as pen-testing. It uses the same tools and methods a hacker or attacker would use to breach a system's security.
A qualified penetration tester uses a standardized method known as a penetration testing methodology. It determines what tools and methods they'll use. At the end of a pentest, you'll receive a report. It'll identify any security risks and provide recommendations for preventing attacks. Pen testing can work with other network testing methods. Use a vulnerability scan to pre-identify security risks.
Pen testing has advantages over all other testing methods. It's more accurate, scans the entire system, and lets you know how much an attack would impact it. Pen testing can spot security problems in almost any system, whether it's a multi-vendor setup consisting of connected technology throughout the world or a smaller in-house network.
Consider how large your system is and how often you update or change it. This effects how often you may have to perform network pen-testing. Even a small change can introduce a new security vulnerability. Regular testing can help you fix these issues before attackers exploit them.
Penetration Testing Steps
Network pen testing is a job for a qualified professional. It requires several steps, each of equal importance.
Planning and reconnaissance are some of the most time-intensive but important parts of the penetration testing process. The system owners provide necessary information such as an IP address. The professional then looks for any additional information they may need.
Scaling or scoping is the step that determines how large the test needs to be. It involves building a team, deciding whether the entire system or a specific part needs testing, how many tools to use, and more.
Scanning uses several tools like port scanners, ping tools, and network mappers. They help identify any security vulnerabilities.
Exploitation is the actual attack used to see how strong a system's security is.
Risk analysis collects all available data about potential security issues in the system. The pen test professional can then use this data in the final step.
Reporting involves collecting all the data the test provides. It puts potential security breaches, recommendations for improving security, and more into something the system owner can read and learn from.
Popular Penetration Testing Methodology Options
Choosing the right penetration testing methodology can be difficult because there are several options to choose from. Knowing them all helps you choose the best one for your business needs.
The ISAFF or Information System Security Assessment Framework gives pen testers a specialized plan. It recommends a tool for each of the penetration testing steps and includes other ways to reduce complexity.
The ISAFF is a great penetration testing methodology for businesses and/or testing professionals. It's especially important for anyone who wants to make sure the process is efficient.
PTES stands for Penetration Methodologies and Standards. It covers every step of the process from planning and reconnaissance to post-exploitation.
A PTES pen test works on almost any piece of technology. PTES works on wifi adapters, Linux systems, and various other types of software.
PTES is one of the best penetration methodologies for follow-up testing. Technology changes at blinding speeds and a new security threat could pop up at any time. Professionals should use PTES to retest systems.
The Open Web Application Security Project or OWASP is adapted to the web or mobile applications. It includes over 66 controls for finding security vulnerabilities.
Using the OWASP provides penetration testers and their clients with a set of standards to meet. It makes the process easier as they know what to do before they even begin.
The Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual or OSSTM is a set of industry standards. It works as an effective penetration testing methodology.
This methodology uses a two-part penetration process. Passive attacks collect necessary data. Intrusive attacks affect the system to test for vulnerabilities.
Penetration testing professionals can use the OSSTM for scientifically backed advice. Developers can also use it to make better systems.
The National Institute and Standards of Technology or NIST provide information security manuals that you can't get anywhere else.
The latest publication is known by two names. It's called 800-15 or MISPC which stands for Minimum Interoperability Specification for Public Key Infrastructure.
The MISPC addresses several areas of network security testing. These include public keys, certification, and signatures. It has five components; CA's or Certification Authorities, ORAs or Organizational Registration Authorities, certificate holders, clients, and repositories.
This penetration testing methodology is also known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It focuses on how to handle information from customers' credit cards and other forms of identification.
The standard mandates vulnerability scanning and pen-testing. A PCI-DSS penetration test must test any part of the system related to the CDE or Cardholder Data Environment.
Check here for more things to know about this important penetration testing methodology.
Where to Find Penetration Testing Services
A penetration testing methodology provides a pattern and set of standards for performing this important network security measure. There are several types to choose from.
Choose a professional that uses an appropriate pentest methodology and has enough knowledge to spot all potential vulnerabilities.