November 25, 2019

How You Can Use Penetration Testing to Bolster Your Network Security

Penetration testing (pen test for short) is essential for improving your organization’s cybersecurity.

It simulates cyber-attacks so that you can discover network and system vulnerabilities and address them accordingly.

Penetration testing can be classified into different types. Each one covers a particular aspect of your cybersecurity, probes more deeply, and unveils specific weaknesses.

In this way, you can identify suitable remedies and allocate your budget, effort, and resources more efficiently. You can also determine which aspects of your IT landscape you must prioritize.

That said, in this post, we will look into six types of penetration testing that you can apply to your company.

Let’s get to it.

1. Network Services

After the pen tester collects relevant information about your company, he then carries out a sequence of network assessments.

Network services testing is often the most popular method for penetration testing.

Once the tester invades your network, 90 percent of the hindrances are cleared away.

He can also execute exploitation testing for both the internal and external networks. He does this by imitating hacker techniques to invade the defenses for your external network.

That gives them the chance to probe into many aspects of your company’s cybersecurity.

Network testing commonly involves the following:

  • Router testing
  • Secure Shell (SSH)-based attacks
  • Evading firewalls
  • Domain Name System (DNS) footprinting
  • Network vulnerabilities
  • Open port scanning and testing
  • Proxy servers
  • Avoiding your Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and Intrusion Detection System (IDS).

2. Cloud Testing

Cloud services have grown into a well-known necessity among organizations with online operations.

They leverage the cloud for file sharing and backup, as well as collaborative projects and networking.

For example, if you need to send a transcription file for Rev or provide free copies of your research to conference attendees, the cloud makes it painless for you to share your documents.

Unfortunately, these large files in the cloud equate to valuable data that black hat hackers (the bad guys) love to get their hands on.

As such, they will do what they can to exploit and gain illegal access to your cloud storage.

On another note, though: while cloud deployments are effortless, cloud security management is complex.

Public cloud service providers typically have either a shared responsibility or a restricted approach to maintaining cybersecurity.

Organizations themselves must take charge of their initiatives to test for vulnerabilities and prevent breaches concerning their cloud data.

That is why cloud penetration testing becomes a critical cybersecurity mechanism.

Cloud pen test normally involves the following:

  • Applications and Application Program Interface (API) access
  • Storage and database access
  • Encryption
  • Virtual Machines (VMs) and unpatched operating systems
  • Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and SSH remote administration
  • Computer security
  • Weak network firewalls
  • Poor passwords

Cloud pen tests can be intricate to perform — which is why a white box method of pen testing may be helpful.

In a white box pen test, you (or the tester) have complete intelligence and access to a system, along with its source code, network architecture, and software it operates.

Use that information so you can carry out the pen test quickly and thoroughly.

Public cloud service providers, though, usually limit your ability to conduct pen tests due to the multi-tenant or shared orientation of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

If you wish to do a cloud pen test, consider informing your service provider first of that plan. Ask them what areas are restricted.

3. Social Engineering

You may have the strongest cybersecurity mechanisms, but human error because of fraud sometimes causes online attacks to infiltrate your system successfully.

That is why penetration testers must also examine your cyber defenses from social engineering schemes.

White hat hackers frequently simulate these social engineering techniques:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Bluesnarfing
  • Tailgating
  • Gifts
  • Pre-texting
  • Eavesdropping
  • Imposters (acting as third-party suppliers, coworkers, etc.)
  • Name dropping
  • Dumpster diving

A social engineering examination is useful because it informs you of loopholes concerning your human capital’s ability to thwart fraudulent tactics.

After all, black hat hackers can have powerfully deceptive ways and means, so you can’t afford to belittle them.

You or your workforce can fall prey to believable messages — unless you become vigilant and stop these threats in their tracks.

4. Physical Pen Test

If your office building has weak physical security, you can literally open the door to cyber criminals without even realizing it.

They can disguise themselves as FBI officers, third-party vendors, job applicants, utility personnel, your employee, or any other regular and trustworthy character.

They may even pretend to be physical penetration testers.

(That’s why you must ensure you’re tapping legit pen testers. Consider known cybersecurity companies or certified freelance pen testers such as those on Fiverr.)

When your staff doesn’t suspect anything, they can permit cybercriminals to enter your company premises and leave them without monitoring their whereabouts.

To prevent that from happening, you need to implement physical penetration tests.

Physical pen-testing hinders hackers from obtaining tangible entry to your servers and systems. It helps ensure that unauthorized persons cannot access your facilities and hardware.

Physical pen tests primarily deal with attempts to acquire access through these methods:

  • Impersonation
  • RFID systems
  • Bypassing light and motion sensors
  • Lock-picking
  • Door entry systems and keypads, etc.

Physical pen testers can integrate this type of test with social engineering schemes like fraud and manipulation of facility employees.

Remember, it’s good for your IT team to patch vulnerabilities diligently, but they must not overlook physical security. If they do so, cyber hijackers can exploit your physical IT assets.

5. Wireless Network and Website (Client-Side)

When your business involves browsing, operating, or interacting with vendors and customers online, you probably can’t help but encounter both safe and harmful sites.

If you use public WiFi and have weak site security, you may be susceptible to unethical hacks. If you can’t tell if a website is reliable or not, you can even give access to hackers unknowingly.

Hackers also use rogue networks and malicious websites to try executing their attacks.

Then they can obtain encrypted details such as log-in usernames and passwords, photos, private chat messages, credit card numbers, emails, and more.

Cyber hijackers can even alter information and inject malware and viruses, including ransomware. All these threats can endanger and shut down your IT ecosystem.

That is why pen tests for your site and wireless networks are vital.

Website and wireless network tests check out crucial infrastructure and devices for loopholes that black hat hackers can manipulate.

Typically, pen tests for websites and wireless networks include:

  • SQL injections
  • Cross-site scripting
  • Wireless network traffic
  • Media Access Control (MAC) address spoofing
  • Default or weak passwords
  • Wireless encryption protocols
  • Denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
  • Malware
  • Web server misconfiguration
  • Web server and/or website for confidential customer information
  • Illegitimate hotspots, networks, and access points
  • Content creation software or media player software

6. Website Applications

In website application security audits, pen testers hunt for vulnerabilities within all of your server applications.

It goes beyond the standard network pen test and pinpoints what these vulnerabilities are.

This type of test aims to inspect the possible dangers which may come through web services, secure code review, and apps.

Pen testers typically inspect these apps:

  • Web applications
  • Languages (Java, .NET, PHP)
  • Systems (SAP, Logistics, CRM systems, HR systems, financial systems)
  • Frameworks
  • Connections (Oracle, XML, MySQL)
  • APIs
  • Mobile apps.


Different types of penetration tests uncover different insights into the condition of your cybersecurity and priority areas for improvement.

The more types of pen tests you apply to your company’s IT landscape, the more areas you can cover, and the more prepared you’ll be against potential cyber threats and attacks.

Think this post was useful? Do share this with your colleagues and friends now. Cheers!

About the author 

Imran Uddin

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