In today’s digital age, cybersecurity has become an essential aspect of any business or organisation. With the increased reliance on technology, cyber attacks have also increased, causing significant financial and reputational damage to companies. To mitigate these risks, entities have started to conduct penetration testing. Penetration testing is a method to simulate methods hackers use to identify vulnerabilities in an organisation’s computer systems, networks, and applications. However, it’s important to understand that there are different types of penetration testing scopes that organisations should consider. In this blog, we will discuss the different penetration testing scopes and how they differ from each other.
Authenticated Vs Non-Authenticated
When performing a penetration test the scope can be with valid login credentials (authenticated) as well as without (non-authenticated). Generally the scope of an Authenticated Penetration Test means the scope includes the resources (e.g. webpages, APIs) that can be accessed when logged in, where as the scope of a non-authenticated penetration is only the resources that can be accessed without logging on. A non-authenticated penetration test might include some of the resources that are protected by login but those are usually only if they are explicitly listed to be test or by chance they are guessed by the penetration tester. The reason is an Authenticated Penetration test has access to the resources which helps the Penetration Tester identify a list of resources to attempt to attack, which saves them time. Also the authenticated access allows them to compare what a valid authenticated response looks like compared with an invalid response when testing different attacks. Hence to ensure greater coverage where possible an Authenticated Penetration Test should always be performed.
Web Application (Website) Penetration Testing
Web application penetration testing is a type of analysis that focuses on web applications’ security. The tester’s role is to identify vulnerabilities and attack vectors that can be exploited through web applications. Web application testing is an effective way to test the system’s resilience against web-based attacks and helps organisations identify weaknesses in their web application security. A skilled penetration tester will use a combination of manual and automated techniques to identify vulnerabilities in the web application, including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and authentication bypass. The ultimate goal of web application penetration testing is to ensure that the website is secure and protected against potential cyber attacks. This is critical for businesses that rely on their websites to conduct transactions, store sensitive data, or interact with customers.
API (Application Programming Interface) Penetration Testing
API testing is a type of analysis that focuses on APIs’ security. The tester’s role is to identify vulnerabilities and attack vectors that can be exploited through APIs. API testing is an effective way to test the system’s resilience against API-based attacks and helps organisations identify weaknesses in their API security. A skilled penetration tester will use a combination of manual and automated techniques to identify vulnerabilities in the APIs including SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and authentication bypass. The ultimate goal of API penetration testing is to ensure that the APIs are secure and protected against potential cyber attacks. This is critical for businesses that rely on the APIs to conduct transactions, store sensitive data, or interact with customers. It is common for API Penetration Testing to be combined with Mobile and/or Web Application Penetration Testing because it includes both.
Mobile Application Penetration Testing
Mobile application penetration testing is the process of identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in mobile applications to ensure their security. It involves a comprehensive assessment of the application’s security features, data storage, communication protocols, and network interactions. Mobile application penetration testing helps to identify and remediate security issues before they are exploited by malicious actors. It involves various techniques such as reverse engineering, SSL Pinning, code review, and vulnerability scanning to assess the application’s security posture. The goal of this testing is to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited to compromise user data or the application itself.
Wireless (Wifi) Penetration Testing
Wireless penetration testing is the process of evaluating the security of a wireless network by simulating an attack on it. The goal of this testing is to identify vulnerabilities in the network that could be exploited by a malicious actor. The testing can be conducted using various tools and techniques, including wireless packet sniffing, password cracking, and network mapping. The results of a wireless penetration test can be used to improve the security of a network by addressing any weaknesses found. It is an important aspect of maintaining the security of any wireless network, particularly in a world where wireless connectivity is ubiquitous and travels outside through building walls.
IoT (Internet of Things) Penetration Testing
IoT penetration testing is a crucial process for ensuring the security of interconnected devices. With the growing number of IoT devices in use, including everything from smart home appliances to industrial equipment, it is increasingly important to test the security of these devices due to their proliferation and lack of standardisation in terms of security features. IoT penetration testing involves identifying vulnerabilities in the devices and networks that connect them, using techniques such as scanning, fuzzing, and reverse engineering. It is important to perform these tests in a controlled and safe environment to avoid causing any harm to the devices or the network. By identifying and fixing vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious actors, IoT penetration testing helps to ensure that these devices and the data they handle are secure.
Network Penetration Testing
Network Penetration Testing is a proactive security assessment method used to identify and evaluate vulnerabilities in a computer network infrastructure. This process involves simulating real-world attacks on a network to assess its security posture and identify weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers. A network penetration testing exercise usually involves the use of various tools and techniques to probe the network infrastructure, including port scanning, vulnerability scanning, and exploitation of discovered vulnerabilities. The goal of network penetration testing is to identify and prioritise vulnerabilities so that the organisation can take remedial action to mitigate risks and enhance their overall security posture. By regularly performing network penetration testing, companies can ensure that their network security is up to date and that they are better protected against cyber-attacks.
Email (Phishing) Penetration Testing
Email phishing is a prevalent cyber attack where hackers use email messages to trick users into giving up sensitive information or credentials. Phishing emails can be highly convincing, making it easy for unsuspecting users to fall victim to the attack. Email (phishing) penetration testing is a technique used by cybersecurity experts to assess the security posture of an organisation’s email system. By simulating a phishing attack, security experts can evaluate how susceptible an organisation’s employees are to such an attack and identify potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. The test helps organisations to identify weaknesses in their security protocols and take appropriate measures to protect themselves against phishing attacks. Ultimately, email phishing penetration testing is a proactive approach to cyber security that helps organisations to identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors.
In conclusion, with the increasing reliance on technology, cybersecurity has become a crucial aspect for any organisation, and penetration testing is a valuable tool in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities. In this blog, we discussed the various types of penetration testing scopes, including web application, mobile application, wireless, IoT, network, and email (phishing) penetration testing. Each of these scopes is unique in its testing approach and techniques used to identify vulnerabilities, but all play an essential role in maintaining the security of an organisation’s systems and data. By conducting regular and thorough penetration testing, organisations can better protect themselves against potential cyber attacks and ensure that their security posture is up to date.
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