The Different Types of Penetration Testing Techniques

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A business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan is important as it provides a framework that can ensure businesses will run smoothly even when they encounter network security threats. But in order to make sure that the BCDR plan is effective, penetration testing should be conducted to determine if the support services in the BCDR plan work. Penetration tests, or pen tests, provide the following benefits:

  • Vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure are identified and addressed before an attack can be made by a hacker or cybercriminal
  • Knowledge and readiness of the internal security team to respond to security threats are measured
  • Potential damages and losses are identified in case of security breach
  • Compliance standards are met

Pen testers are authorised to conduct planned attacks on either the hardware or software system to determine security gaps that may expose a company’s confidential data and digital assets. Various pen testing techniques are available and here are some of them.

White Box Testing

White box pen testing, also referred to as clear box or open box testing, is conducted when a pen tester has complete knowledge of the target and is given full access to the system. Due to this, white box testing provides a comprehensive assessment of a system’s external and internal weaknesses. However, white box tests can take much longer to run as pen testers need to test a huge amount of data.

Black Box Testing

Person typing

In black box pen testing, the tester takes the role of a typical hacker who can only use public information about the target. Black box tests are easier to run but they can only expose external vulnerabilities.

Grey Box Testing

Grey box, or translucent testing, happens when the tester is provided with limited knowledge about the target, some of which are not publicly accessible. This type of testing combines the advantages of both white box and black box techniques, where the tester can identify both external and internal weaknesses in a shorter period.

Network Penetration Testing

Network testing is the most common method of pen testing. The pen tester gains access to internal and external entry points to discover vulnerabilities in the system. Targets of network pen tests include firewalls, routers, proxy servers, IPS/EDS and DNS. Network pen tests also target web and mobile applications, APIs and ERP systems.

Website and Wireless Network Penetration Testing

This type of pen test exploit vulnerabilities of wireless architecture, configuration and devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. Pen testers will target areas such as the wireless encryption protocols, wireless network traffic, SQL injections and web server configurations.

Physical Penetration Testing

Physical penetration testing is another important area of cybersecurity that attempts to measure the strength of the physical security controls of a business. These physical barriers include locks, sensors and cameras that when breached can lead to unauthorised access to restricted areas.

Pen tests not only determine vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure but also provides ways to mitigate them. Using different techniques will reveal which security controls need to be improved. Businesses must conduct regular pen tests to ensure the strength of their security posture.

Read more at Alphasphere.

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