Penetration Testing (Pen Test)

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What is a Pentest?

With the advancement of the digital age, cybersecurity is a high-risk threat for any organization. There are faults or weak points in any program or network that an attacker could exploit to compromise data confidentiality, authenticity, or reliability. Pentest results comprise a list of vulnerabilities, the dangers they pose to the network or application, and a final report. Report types vary depending on the pentest but often include an executive summary, methodology, scope of work, a summary of results, recommendations, post tester remediation, and finding details of penetration testing.

When vulnerabilities are discovered during penetration, pen testing can alter the security rules, patch the apps and networks, uncover common weaknesses across the systems, and help improve the systems and the company’s overall defense capabilities. This article discusses what is a penetration test, its methods, and the future model of modern pentesting.  

What is Penetration Testing?

A test that simulates a cyber assault on a computer system to identify exploitable flaws or loopholes is known as the process of penetration testing. A penetration test is also called a pentest. Pen testing might involve penetrating application systems (for example, application protocol interfaces (APIs), frontend/backend servers) to discover vulnerabilities such as unsanitary inputs that are vulnerable to code injection attacks. 


Penetration testers are widely used to supplement a web application firewall in the web application security (WAF) context. The penetration test results can be used to fine-tune the WAF security policies and address found vulnerabilities. A penetration tester is also used to check secure website to cross-check any potential loopholes.

What are the penetration testing stages?

Penetration Tests assess the analysis and progression of simulated attacks on an application or network to determine its security posture. Pentesting’s primary purpose is to harden and improve security by identifying exploitable weaknesses in security defenses. Insights gained from successful system breaches are then utilized to fine-tune policies and controls while also providing an opportunity to repair vulnerabilities before any compromise occurs. There are five stages in pen testing. 

Stage 1: Planning and surveillance

The first stage of pen testing involves defining the test’s scope and goals, including the systems to be addressed and the pentesting methodologies employed, obtaining intelligence to understand better how a target operates and potential weaknesses.

Stage 2: Scanning

The second stage is determining how the target application will react to intrusion attempts. This is usually done with static and dynamic analysis. Static analysis is inspecting an application’s code to estimate how it will behave while operating. Dynamic analysis is the process of examining an application’s code while it is executing. This scanning method is practical as it provides a real-time view of an application’s performance. These tools are capable of scanning the complete code in a single pass.

Stage 3: Gaining Access 

The third stage employs making web application assault attempts such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and backdoors to identify weaknesses in a target. Doing so helps the tester understand the damage these vulnerabilities might inflict; testers attempt to exploit data by escalating privileges, data theft, monitoring traffic, etc.

Stage 4: Maintaining Access

The fourth stage aims to determine whether the identified vulnerability can be leveraged to maintain a persistent presence in the compromised system long enough for the invader to get in-depth access. Here, The goal is to mimic persistent threats in advance, which can stay in a system for months and steal an organization’s most sensitive data.

Stage 5: Analysis

The penetration test results are then collected into a report that includes the exploited flaws and access to sensitive information. The amount of time the pentester could remain undetected in the system is also calculated. Security personnel uses this data to help configure an enterprise’s WAF settings and other application security solutions to patch vulnerabilities and protect against future attacks.

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What are Penetration Testing Methods?

There are five different methods on how to start penetration testing. 

  1. External Testing: External penetration tests target a firm’s internet-visible assets, such as the company website, the web application, and email and domain name servers (DNS). Here, the goal is to gain access to and extract useful information.
  2. Internal Testing: In an internal test, a tester having access to an application behind the company’s firewall mimics a malicious insider attack. This is only sometimes emulating a renegade employee. A typical starting point is an employee whose credentials were obtained due to a phishing attempt.
  3. Blind Testing: In a blind test, a tester is only given the name of the targeted enterprise. This provides security personnel a real-time view of how an actual application assault would occur.
  4. Double-blind Testing: Security workers in a double-blind test have no prior information about the simulated attack. They will only have time to shore up their fortifications after an attempted breach, much like in the real world.
  5. Specific testing: In this scenario, the tester and the security staff collaborate and keep each other informed of their movements. This excellent training exercise offers a security team real-time feedback from a hacker’s perspective.

Why Pentest as a Service is the future of modern pen-testing?

  • Organizations must treat security as a one-time effort rather than a continuous part of proactive security if a lifecycle strategy is not used in a Pentest Program. A project has a beginning and an end date, but a successful Pentest Program is an ongoing activity. Any pen test project’s analysis phase should be designed to naturally segue into preparation for the next pen test, whether it’s the following week, month, quarter, or year.

    The Pentest as a Service (PaaS) platform is combined with an exclusive network of testers to provide the real-time insights required to remediate risk and innovate safely and quickly. The adaptable, on-demand consumption model enables security and development teams to anticipate and address new pen testing requirements.