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Why Penetration Testing is important?

March 12, 2021
Companies are always fighting against cyber-attacks that can shut down their entire operation. But, very often, threats arise from vulnerabilities that their security team didn’t know existed. That’s the reason why ensuring that security measures are genuinely effective is a fundamental process in any IT environment.
To better address this, companies can perform penetration tests. They are simulations of cyber-attacks that help to identify and mitigate blind spots and security systems’ vulnerabilities.
To better understand how this works, below, we listed some exciting topics, such as their characteristics, types of tests, their benefits, disadvantages, and the ways of application. Good reading!

Pen-testing definition

The penetration test, also known as pen-testing, is a set of actions executed to test the IT security system’s efficiency. Its goal is to solidify defense and prove its capacity against exploiting vulnerabilities present in operating systems, services, and applications.

How Penetration Testing works

Similar to Red Teaming, the penetration test is performed by IT professionals, internally or outsourced. Mimicking behavior identical to a real hacker, professionals try to access programs, tools, and research to carry out the alleged attack.
These tests also help to hypothetically demonstrate how deeply an attacker could get into the company’s structure and how much information could be stolen or damaged.

Penetration testing steps

Penetration tests have four main steps:
1) Pre-operation agreement;
2) Recognition;
3) Obtaining access and exploration;
4) Obtaining evidence and reporting.
In general, penetration test operations happen in a defined sequence, with stages that approach the following points: preparation and planning; verification; recognition; information and risk analysis; effective intrusion attempts; final analyzes; and report.
Step One: Pre-operation agreement
During this phase, the company has its system hacked. The professionals who simulate the attacks must define the test’s scope, what type of difficulty, and the action’s purpose.

Step Two: Recognition

In the recognition stage (also known as the Recon stage), testers carry an in-depth survey of information. During the scan, they make a complete network identification to learn its composition (range of IPs, servers, operating systems, open ports, etc.).

Step Three: Obtaining access and exploration

With the data acquired, the penetration test uniquely explores each information, finding gaps in the systems.

Step Four: Obtaining evidence and reporting

After verifying all the possible threats and vulnerabilities, professionals create a report to demonstrate the system’s weaknesses, in addition to the losses that the company may suffer if an attack happens.

Types of penetration testing
The most common types of pen-testing are white box, gray box, and black box.

Black box

This type of penetration testing most closely resembles a real cyber-attack because, to carry it out, the client does not provide any information. Thus, testers make use of hacking techniques to check security systems.

White box

This test aims to evaluate servers’ and source code’s configuration to find points of vulnerability. The company must supply some data to the testers regarding the servers, the network, the systems used, the database, and the means of access.

Grey box

Gray Box tests mix both Black and White Box tests. Professionals receive some information, such as access permissions, as if they were accredited users. After that, they carry out tests to assess whether company users can make unauthorized modifications, in addition to verifying whether the system presents gaps for cybercriminals’ invasions.

Pen-testing benefits

Some of the benefits of performing penetration tests are:
  • Identifies weaknesses that vulnerability scans do not detect;
  • Identifies selected high-risk weaknesses;
  • The pen-tester can learn about a new attack technique and test it the very next day;
  • Security teams can use the assessment report to mitigate weaknesses;
  • Provides a training tool for network security.

Pen-testing disadvantages

Among penetration testing disadvantages:
  • Success depends on the skill and expertise of each tester;
  • Does not identify all weaknesses that threat actors exploit due to the limited testing environment;
  • The testers cannot perform all the attack methods that they learned during previous years;
  • It takes a long time (weeks, sometimes even more than a month) to receive the assessment report;
  • Does not provide 360° insight, since manual testing is unable to test all aspects of the system (e.g., lines of code, decompiled Assembly, web pages and parameters, web services, etc.) in contrast to automated tools;
  • The results of manual pen-tests reflect a specific point of time;
  • Often, companies do not perform them due to high costs.
How to build an affordable penetration test
Although pen-testing is a service that presents an in-depth diagnosis and practical ways to mitigate vulnerabilities, it can take a long time to run. Besides, by the time the reports are delivered, other critical vulnerabilities may have already arisen.
There are very efficient solutions available on the market that can automate penetration testing exercises, becoming an excellent ally for IT professionals. Implementing a pen-testing solution to the company’s routine is a great option to ensure its security posture and compliance.


It is fundamental to count on an adequate, modern, and efficient solution to promote proper security posture and ensure that your company is safe against the latest cyber-threats.
Both manual penetration testing and automated solutions for attack simulation are good options to be considered to find security gaps and preventing attacks or intrusions into systems and applications.

HiveCore Enterprise Solutions LLC

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