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Types of pentesting and how to use it to prevent cyberattacks

Smart contract audit

By cyphershieldtechPublished about a year ago 5 min read
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Learn about pentesting, its types and how it is used at the enterprise level to prevent cyberattacks and improve cybersecurity

Introduction

In recent years, cybersecurity has become a priority for companies and organizations, since cyberattacks have been on the rise, which represents a significant IT risk. To avoid falling victim to these attacks, companies need to invest in trained staff to test for weaknesses in their systems and harden them properly.

Later we will show you what is the most common test that is carried out to improve the cybersecurity of companies. Keep reading!

What is pentesting or penetration testing?

Pentesting , also known as pentest or penetration test, is a type of test that companies use to perform an analysis of vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their computer security . In other words, it is a test that consists of attacking different environments or systems to detect and prevent possible failures or attacks. The word comes from the abbreviation that is formed by joining the words “ penetration ” and “ test ”, which in Spanish means “penetration” and “test”.

Penetration testing or penetration testing " pentesting " is a systematic process to check the vulnerabilities of computer applications and networks . It is a controlled way in which a group of people, known as pentesters or ethical hackers , carry out a real programmed attack on the system in order to find technological weaknesses before cybercriminals.

Other functions of pentesting

These tests are also used to guarantee compliance with a certain security policy , or so that the company can be aligned with Certification standards such as ISO 27001 or PCI-DSS. This is achieved by knowing the awareness of employees about said policy and identifying the organization's capacity to respond to these incidents.

It should be noted that during Security Assessments, detected vulnerabilities are reported to system administrators, so that they can apply the necessary corrections to mitigate security breaches . This helps reduce the number of attack vectors that a cyber attacker could exploit in a live environment to gain valuable information and use it for malicious purposes.

Once the fixes have been implemented, retesting is executed, in which the tests are run again to validate that the fixes have been successfully executed . However, later we will talk in more depth about all the stages that comprise a penetration test.

When to pentest

It is recommended to carry out at least 2 penetration tests per year on the most critical systems of the companies, or when they have undergone significant changes in architecture or logic. In this way, the security of the applications is ensured, guaranteeing that no new security breaches have been developed that could be exploited by cyber attackers or hackers to gain access to the systems without any authorization.

Types of pentesting

There are three types of penetration tests, which are differentiated by the scope they cover : black box, gray box and white box. These tests, despite being different from each other, have a common goal: to find security vulnerabilities.

Next, we will detail each test so that you learn what the specific objective of each one is and how they differ from each other.

Black box or black box

It is the attempt to compromise the computer system without prior knowledge . This test shows errors or security flaws in the application that could be exploited by a cybercriminal who carries out external attacks, without access to the system. Only the URL or IP of the application is provided. The test cases are limited, since the internal functionality of the application is not exploited.

Gray box or gray box

This test provides some sensitive information about the application, such as access passwords and an overview of the architecture. This helps to expand the test cases that are going to be executed, which is why more critical and important security breaches are usually found.

Specific parts of the application are attacked in a highly targeted manner. It has all the benefits of a black box test; however, it takes more time as external and internal attacks are performed by simulating the role of an authenticated user.

White box or white box

During white box pentesting, the complete confidential information of the application and the system is provided, including its architecture design, access credentials and most importantly: the source code is shared to review it in its entirety and to be able to find even more vulnerabilities.

This is the most complete test since it gives us a complete smart contract security audit of the system ; however, it is the one that takes the longest to develop, due to its high complexity.

Phases of pentesting

All penetration tests have different phases or stages that are developed progressively . Cybersecurity specialists must comply with a protocol to plan and execute each test in the best possible way. In this way, they will be able to verify and guarantee the security of the information found in the system.

Here we will explain in detail what each of the phases consists of and what its usefulness is in the organization's systems:

Recognition

It is the phase where the attacker seeks to collect all the necessary information about the system or network to be analyzed , in order to carry out the intrusion successfully. It should be noted that in this phase the pentesting staff will not seek to infiltrate the system as such, but will try to gather information from outside.

The information that you want to obtain in this phase corresponds to IP addresses (to obtain firewall specifications ), personal data about company personnel (name, surname) and, of course, email addresses.

Scanning

This phase seeks to actively check whether what has been found in the recognition phase shows vulnerabilities that are related to the services found. This will help us define the degree of difficulty of the possible intrusion.

In fact, this phase of pentesting is very important in terms of cybersecurity analysis, since it allows us to verify the security level of the system . After you have an overview of the access points, you will proceed to enter the system through them in the next stage of pentesting.

Exploitation

After having found the vulnerabilities or security gaps that had been revealed since the previous phase, now the objective is to test them. That is, the personnel in charge of pentesting must try to enter the system through the previously detected entry points.

Additionally, when they have managed to access the system, exploiting the weaknesses, the programmers will continue looking for possible access to privileged levels of the system. The goal is to get as much information as possible and demonstrate the damage a cybercriminal could do.

The idea is to be clear about the most vulnerable points in the system and what actions can be carried out within it, in order to strengthen these weak points and understand their importance in relation to the security of the system's information.

trace erasure

After carrying out all the intrusion tests, it is possible to leave some traces or traces that can serve as a guide for possible attacks in the future.

That is why at this stage you should completely remove any 'tracks' that may have been left behind. If it is not done correctly, it would be considered a high-risk vulnerability for the system, completely compromising its cybersecurity.

In this sense, the fact of periodically carrying out penetration tests will allow us to have the system updated and to know the new weaknesses before others can exploit them for malicious purposes.

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