Every computer program requires to be tested in order to confirm its working. A computer software is a set of programs which too needs to be checked whether it works as per expectations. The software testing follows a list of protocols to ensure the quality. If the software does not deliver the proper results, the Software Test Engineer reciprocates with the developers to check with it. This is a typical scenario of an IT based industry. Usually it is either Manual or Automated. The Manual testing, as the name itself suggests, is the method to check manually with the perspective of an end-user. The Automated testing contains script written in computer languages such as python or java which runs the software repeatedly if the same sort of testing has to be carried. The latter saves time and is one of the most popular testing methods in use today.
Penetration Testing or Pen Testing is the method to check for the security risks that a system might encounter if someone tries to breach in. Accidental errors might occur during the development process and while implementing a software, such as design errors, software bugs, configuration mistakes, and so on. Pen Testing ensures the working ability of a system’s networks, endpoints, applications, and users from internal or external hazards.
Pen test has to be the mandatory task if an organization has a new network infrastructure, or it relocates to a new geographic region, or a new software installation has been executed. It is also beneficial if a new end-user policy or a program is set up.
Penetration Testing finds out the weak areas where a hacker may attack the system via white/black hat attack. It also estimates the degree of possible invade. By doing this, there can be tremendous prevention of data and finances, sometimes even in millions or more! It saves the reputation among the customers as well.
Many people cannot really differentiate between Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing and use them interchangeably but there is a thin line of variation that exists and most of them need to know. Both these terms are closely related yet a basic concept keep them apart, which is – Penetration Testing only focuses on detecting the vulnerabilities and risks with an objective of controlling and defending the overall system against foreign invaders. Ethical Hacking is extensively used to cover all hacking techniques that a hacker might possibly use to breach into the system. In other words, Pen Testing is one of the features of Ethical Hacking.
There are three types of penetration testing based on the organizational scope and requirements – Black Box, White Box, and Grey Box.
In case of Black Box penetration testing, the test engineer does not have much idea about the system which requires to be tested. He/she does not examine any programming codes. They only know the expected outcome and NOT how the system works or how the outcome arrives. This field does not require hand-on experience and knowledge about a specific programming language. This test is carried with the perspective of an end-user.
When it comes to White Box penetration testing, the tester is aware of the background (source) coding, and not only this, it also has the whole range of information such as OS details, Schema, IP address, and the overall existing network. This testing ensures that all modules have been exercised thoroughly, and all logical decisions have been verified with values true or false. It also detects the typographical errors and checks the syntax.
In case of Grey Box penetration testing, a tester is provided partial information about the internal details of the system’s program. The tester does not need the access of source code, and so, there is negligible chance of personal conflicts between the developer and the tester.
There are basically three areas of penetration testing – Network, Application, and system’s response/workflow.
In the network penetration testing, a tester’s key aim is to determine the security flaws in the design, implementation or operation of an organization’s network. The devices can be anything ranging from computers, modems, or devices for remote access. In the application penetration testing, the logical structure of the system is supposed to be tested. It challenges and exposes the efficacy of an application’s security controls by determining the probable risks. The Firewall and other monitoring systems, in general, protect the overall security, yet there is always a need to test particularly when the traffic is allowed to pass through the Firewall.
In the third type, that is system’s response/workflow pen testing, the workflow of an organization’s needs to be checked to prevent unauthorized access. This type of testing is exceptionally designed to execute that so as to ensure perfect system functioning.