What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, or “pen testing,” is an essential part of any organization’s cybersecurity efforts. It involves attempting to identify security weaknesses in a system by simulating the actions of an attacker. This type of testing helps organizations identify where their system is most vulnerable and what steps they need to take to protect themselves from a cyberattack.

Pen testing involves a range of activities from scanning a system for weakness to actively exploiting security gaps in the network. Security experts simulate an actual attack with the goal of discovering the weak spots in the system. This type of testing is important because it allows an organization to identify their security vulnerabilities and take appropriate steps to protect themselves against malicious actors.

Penetration testing is often done in a lab setting, where security experts can test the system safely in order to identify flaws in the system and gain an understanding of how an attacker might exploit them. During the testing process, security experts use tools to scan the system for weaknesses and then manually attempt to exploit those weaknesses. After each test, the experts analyze the results and make the necessary adjustments to improve security.

In addition to a lab setting, pen testing can also be done remotely by sending simulated attacks to the system from a remote location. This type of testing is useful for detecting weaknesses in the system that cannot be identified in a lab setting. It’s also more realistic in some ways, as it simulates an actual attack instead of trying to exploit vulnerable areas without an attacker’s knowledge.

Penetration testing is critical for any organization that wants to stay secure against cyber threats. It’s an important tool in a comprehensive security strategy, and an essential way to identify security issues and take steps to fix them. If you’re not performing regular pen testing, it’s time to start making it part of your security process.

What are the types of Penetration Testing

There are several types of penetration tests that can be used to assess a system’s security level.

  1. Black Box Testing: This type of testing is also known as “outside-in” testing. An analyst is given limited information about the system in order to simulate the malicious hacker’s point of view. The analyst then attempts to gain access to the system using any means available. This type of testing is most useful for identifying potential loopholes in authentication systems, such as an improperly secured login page.

  2. White Box Testing: This type of testing is also known as “inside-out” testing because it starts from the inside of the system. This type of testing is used to evaluate the security of any software that resides inside the target system. It evaluates the software’s design and code, as well as detects any hidden weaknesses or vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker.

  3. Gray Box Testing: This type of testing is a combination of both black box and white box testing. An analyst is given limited but more detailed information about the system’s structure and the software it uses. This type of testing allows for the identification of vulnerabilities that would not be found with the other two approaches.


To ensure that penetration tests are conducted in a systematic and thorough manner, many security professionals use a methodology framework to guide the testing process.

One such framework is the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES), which is a widely-used methodology for conducting penetration tests. PTES is a comprehensive framework that covers all aspects of a penetration test, from planning and preparation to reporting and analysis.

The PTES framework consists of seven key phases:

  1. Pre-engagement interactions – This phase involves communication with the client to define the scope and objectives of the test, as well as to gather any necessary information and resources.

  2. Intelligence gathering – This phase involves researching the target system and gathering as much information as possible about its components, including hardware, software, and network configurations.

  3. Threat modeling – This phase involves using the information gathered during the intelligence gathering phase to identify potential vulnerabilities and risks to the target system.

  4. Vulnerability analysis – This phase involves using the information gathered during the threat modeling phase to identify specific vulnerabilities in the target system.

  5. Exploitation – This phase involves using tools and techniques to exploit the identified vulnerabilities and gain access to the target system.

  6. Post-exploitation – This phase involves conducting further activities on the system once access has been gained, such as escalating privileges, creating backdoors, and gathering additional information.

  7. Reporting – This phase involves documenting the results of the test, including the vulnerabilities identified and the steps taken to exploit them, as well as providing recommendations for addressing the identified vulnerabilities.

 In addition to the PTES framework, there are other methodology frameworks that can be used to guide penetration testing. For example, the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has developed a penetration testing methodology that is similar to PTES, but with some differences in the specific steps and terminology used.

Penetration Testing Tools

There are a variety of different penetration testing tools available, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities.

Here are 10 examples of tools commonly used for penetration testing:

  1. Metasploit – an open-source platform for creating and executing exploits against a target system

  2. Nmap – a network scanner for identifying live hosts on a network and mapping out network infrastructure

  3. Aircrack-ng – a suite of tools for wireless network cracking

  4. Burp Suite – a web application security testing platform

  5. John the Ripper – a password cracking tool

  6. sqlmap – a tool for detecting and exploiting SQL injection vulnerabilities

  7. Wireshark – a network protocol analyzer for analyzing network traffic

  8. Maltego – a tool for visualizing the relationships between people, companies, and other entities

  9. Cain and Abel – a password recovery tool for Windows systems

  10. Ettercap – a suite of tools for man-in-the-middle attacks

 These tools allow security professionals to test the security of a system and identify potential vulnerabilities. By using these tools, organizations can take steps to protect their systems against potential attacks and improve their overall security posture.

How Much Do Penetration Testing Costs?

 The cost of a penetration test can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of the organization being tested, as well as the specific objectives of the test. Generally speaking, the cost of penetration testing can range from a few hundred dollars for a basic assessment to tens of thousands of dollars for a comprehensive and detailed assessment.

When determining the cost of a penetration test, there are several factors to consider. The first is the scope of the test. A basic penetration test may involve a single system or component, while more comprehensive tests may require the testing of multiple systems and components. The number of systems and components tested will affect the cost.

In addition to the scope of the test, the type of testing also affects the cost. For example, a network assessment may require the use of specialized tools or techniques, while an application assessment may require a more hands-on approach. The complexity and sophistication of the testing will also affect the cost. Finally, the duration of the test also affects the cost. The longer the test takes to complete, the higher the cost will be.

When budgeting for a penetration test, it is important to understand the scope and objectives of the test, as well as the complexity and duration of the test. This will help you to determine the approximate cost of the test. In addition, it is important to find a qualified penetration testing provider who is experienced in the type of testing that you require. By doing so, you can ensure that your organization receives a comprehensive and effective security assessment.

What Will I See in the Report?

A penetration testing report should contain detailed information about all areas of an organisation’s IT infrastructure and systems. This includes information about the security measures and protocols in place, as well as a detailed review of any weaknesses that were identified during the penetration test. The report should also detail any vulnerabilities or security flaws that were identified, and any associated risks. In addition, the report should include recommendations for remediation of any identified weaknesses.

Organisations should expect a penetration testing report to provide an in-depth assessment of the risks associated with their IT infrastructure. This includes identifying what threats exist, and how they can be managed and mitigated. The report should also provide information about how the organisation can improve their defences, including recommendations for both short-term and long-term security measures.

Organisations should also expect the penetration testing report to give them a clear picture of their current security posture. This includes detailed information about their existing security measures and how effective they are. Additionally, the report should provide information about which areas of the organisation’s IT infrastructure are most vulnerable, and how they can be improved.

Do I need Penetration Testing?

Because pen testing is so important, it’s essential to know when to perform one. Many organizations opt to use pen testing on an annual basis as part of a regular security foundation review, but there are certain key times when it may be necessary: 

  1. After major changes in the IT environment. Major changes to the IT infrastructure, such as moving to cloud computing, deploying a new system, or updating existing software, can create new, unexpected weaknesses that need to be assessed for security.

  2. Pre-deployment. Before any new system or software is rolled out, it’s important to ensure it’s secure, and pen testing can help identify any potential security issues before the system is made operational.

  3. Regularly. Regularly scheduled pen tests can help ensure that no new security issues have been introduced and that existing security measures remain effective.

Organisations need to take a proactive approach to cyber security and penetration testing is a key part of this. By engaging Securinc, organisations can ensure their IT infrastructure is secure and resilient against malicious attack. Our team of experts can provide the necessary guidance to help organisations develop an effective cyber security strategy and ensure their IT infrastructure is protected.

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