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Penetration testing is becoming increasingly common as organizations are starting to embrace the requirement for stronger cybersecurity. But there are yet too many businesses that don’t understand the benefits of regular security testing.

Penetration testing is vital for any kind of organization with an IT system or website. A recent survey of penetration testers reported that 88 percent of those questioned stated they could infiltrate companies and steal data within 12 hours. This explains that almost all businesses are likely to be exposed to attacks.

But many people do not know what a Penetration test includes particularly the types of vulnerabilities that testing benefits to identify. In truth, there are many various types of Penetration testing, and the results can depend mainly on which type you have carried.

 

What Is A Penetration Test?

A penetration test comprises a team of security professionals who actively try to break into your company’s network by using weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your systems.

Penetration tests may involve any of the following purposes:

  • Using social engineering techniques to enter systems and related databases.
  • Sending of phishing emails to reach critical accounts.
  • Using unencrypted passwords distributed in the network to reach sensitive databases.

 

These attempts can be very intrusive than a vulnerability scan and may cause a rejection of service or increased system utilization, which may decrease productivity, and damage the machines.

In some instances, you may schedule penetration tests and notify staff in advance of the exercise. However, this wouldn’t be suitable if you want to examine how your internal security team reacts to a “live” threat.

A penetration test can decide if certain goals of the program have been achieved such as keeping 99.99% availability during an attack, or assuring data loss prevention (DLP) systems are hindering would-be attackers from exfiltrating data.

 

 Vulnerabilities that a Penetration test can Uncover

In general, however, here are four of the most popular vulnerabilities that a penetration test can uncover:

1. Unstable setup or configuration of networks, hosts, and devices

Exposed ports, weak user credentials, insecure user privileges, and unpatched applications are kinds of vulnerabilities that a hacker could use to discredit your systems. Unsecure network configurations are normally relatively easy to change(as long as you are conscious that they are insecure). However, with an organization’s security position changing so fast, it can often only use the addition of new devices or the application of new services to introduce calculated risks.

A good example of this is that more and more companies are going to the cloud and failing to verify that their environments are safe. Authenticated vulnerability scans on on-premise and cloud networks are excellent at identifying basic problems, but human penetration testers spend more time reviewing security from the outside. As criminals become more sophisticated in the methods they use, it is human penetration testers who are giving invaluable information to institutions about how to keep their infrastructure safe.

 

2. Defects in encryption and authentication

Encrypting data, either at rest or in transition, is a general method that organizations use to assure their communications are safe. SSH, SSL, and TLS are popular protocols that are used to transform plaintext data (which can be understood by humans) into ciphertext data (which cannot be understood without a key). In some cases, however, businesses have used less safe encryption methods, and often it is the event that these can be broken by hackers. In October 2017, it was found that WPA2, a protocol used to defend the majority of Wi-Fi connections, was actually weak.

In some instances, hackers will try to intercept communications to bypass authentication systems intended to verify the digital identity of senders. This can enable them to launch so-called man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks. Large organizations such as HSBC, NatWest, and Co-op Bank were all at danger for MiTM attacks for up to a year before making a security flaw repaired. Carrying out penetration testing can help you to decide how secure your communications and data storage methods actually are.

 

3. Code and command injection

It is generally known and realized that one of the most efficient ways for hackers to target web applications is by vulnerabilities in software programming. By far the most common attack vector targeting web applications is known as SQL injection – this includes the execution of malicious commands meant to instruct or query backend databases for data. This is a popular way for hackers to steal identifiable private information and payment card details.

SQL injections are very popular and can affect the operations of all sizes. A defect in the Altima Telecom website determined that the Canadian internet provider could have easily been negotiated by SQL injection. It was only by the skill of penetration testers that the company was capable to address the vulnerability and prevent possible disaster.

 

4. Session management

In order to enhance user-friendliness, web applications use session administration controls such as identification tokens or cookies to avoid the requirement to constantly log in and out as well as to save user preferences and record activity. However, those controls can be vulnerable to exploitation by hackers attempting to hijack sessions and gain higher privileges.

Session management testing can help you to evaluate whether tokens and cookies are built in a safe way that is protected against manipulation. A recent example saw Facebook breached due to a token harvesting attack. Companies need to be aware, since, that similar types of attacks could simply target them.

 

Penetration testing can be extremely helpful in testing for all of those issues, but it is also necessary to remember that every company will have distinct and different requirements. There is no one-size-fits-all penetration test so it is prudent to talk through your requirements with cybersecurity professionals so that they can allow the kind of testing that will help you the most.

 

Need help in launching a process that overcomes challenges in penetration testing? Prefer to partner with an experienced testing services provider like TestUnity. Our team of testing experts is experienced in penetration testing. Our QA engineers can help your team select API testing best practices within your development cycle so that your software app begins to market successfully every time. Get a no-obligation consultation with TestUnity experts to meet your penetration testing needs.

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