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Penetration Test

A penetration test, otherwise referred to as ethical hacking, is a simulated and control attack against your organization’s network systems to check for potential gaps or vulnerabilities that could expose you to hackers. 

The importance of penetration testing goes beyond your company’s cybersecurity. It also involves being compliant with existing laws as well as ensuring your clients’ information is well protected. 

Here are 7 questions you need to ask yourself before conducting a pen-test. 

1. What Is the Purpose of the Penetration Test?

Before doing a penetration test, you need to have a strong idea of exactly what it is you intend to achieve from the pentest. Is it availability, integrity, or confidentiality? Also known as the CIA triad, this model is designed to help set up cybersecurity protocols within a company. 

Availability is the guarantee of reliable access to data by authorized users and integrity is the assurance that the information is credible. Confidentiality is a set of rules that define information access protocols .

2. What Tools Will You Use?

As much as it’s more about the process than the tools, knowing what tools you intend to use is critical in every pen-test. There are various tools for various purposes. For instance, Nmap is a network port scanner that tests host and service discovery. BurpSuite and Metasploit are great tools for web application penetration testing.

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3. Have You Considered Vulnerability Assessment?  

Before starting a penetration test, you need to find out whether it’s the best strategy to test your system. A vulnerability assessment is not as thorough as penetration testing. However, it provides in-depth insight into the overall health of your network system and its complexities. 

4. What Method Will You Use to Do the Penetration Test?

Each organization has its own approach to penetration tests. However, there are a few activities that occur in just about all penetration tests.

For instance, internal testing involves testing an organization’s local area network including printers, laptops, and desktop computers. External testing, on the other hand, involves targeting the visible assets of an organization online such as the organization’s website or domain name services. 

5. When Do You Intend to Do the Testing?

You need to get a clear picture of when you plan to do the pen-testing. Characterize this question in terms of days, weeks, or months. Do you plan to do it beyond normal working hours? 

You also need to know at which time and at what time you intend to perform specific actions. Is the test best suited for when you have high website traffic or when there’s low usage?  

6. Will the Data Be Safe During Testing?

You need to ascertain if the data will be secure during and after the test. Any data needs to be backed up and protected using disk-based encryption. This also covers confidential data such as test reports. 

7. Will the Penetration Testing Be Manual or Automated?

Good overall practice states that at least 85% of the entire penetration testing process should be manual whereas the rest can be done using automated tools. Automatic testing is a good starting point but it has various restrictions thus hindering thorough testing for high-risk vulnerabilities. 

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Final Thoughts

A good penetration test is not cheap but it will be worthwhile in the process. As you work to make your business more secure, you should look into other effective security measures such as assessing applications and training your developers on web security. Small but effective steps will propel you in the right direction towards preventing potential system hacks. 



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