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With threats evolving and multiplying at an alarming pace, it is essential to ensure your organisation has the controls in place to mitigate the latest cyber security risks.


A programme of regular ethical hacking assessments can help to identify weaknesses in your infrastructure as well as understand the ability of people, technology and processes to detect and respond to breaches. This blog explains how ethical hacking assessments such as pen testing and red teaming can help your organisation to significantly enhance its cyber security posture.


What is ethical hacking?


Ethical hacking is the identification and exploitation of cyber security vulnerabilities across IT environments for legitimate, non-malicious purposes. Ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers, are the security professionals entrusted to perform these tests, mirroring the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) employed by genuine criminal adversaries.


Advantages of ethical hacking


Ethical hacking is designed to help organisations uncover security exposures across networks, systems and applications as well as provide guidance to ensure they are addressed quickly and effectively.

A robust ethical hacking programme helps to:

  • Test defences against the latest attacker tools and techniques
  • Mitigate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited maliciously
  • Provide independent assurance of existing cyber security controls
  • Assist prioritisation of future security investments
  • Improve employees’ cyber risk awareness
  • Demonstrate a security commitment to investors, customers and partners
  • Support GDPR, DPA, PCI and NIS compliance


Types of ethical hacking

Ethical hacking encompasses a broad range of assessment types, which can vary in focus, duration, depth and secrecy. Engagements can be tailored to an organisation’s specific operational, budgetary and compliance requirements. Assessments, for instance, can be commissioned to test a complete network or specific systems and applications as well as susceptibility to specific attack scenarios.

Popular types of ethical hacking include:

Internal/External Network Penetration Testing
An assessment of internal and external network infrastructure designed to test on-premise and cloud networks, firewalls, system hosts, and devices such as routers and switches.

Wireless Penetration Testing
Testing wireless local area network (WLAN) and/or wireless protocols helps to identify rogue access points, weaknesses in encryption and WPA vulnerabilities.

Web Application Testing
Testing websites and web applications can help to identify issues resulting from weaknesses in design, coding and development practices.

Mobile Application Testing
Testing of mobile applications on a range of operating systems identifies issues related to authentication, authorisation, data leakage and session handling.

Build and Configuration Review
Review of network builds and configurations identifies misconfigurations across web and app servers, routers and firewalls.

Social Engineering Testing
A simulated social engineering assessment tests employees’ response to sophisticated phishing, spear phishing and/or Business Email Compromise attacks.

Red Team Operations
A comprehensive cyber-attack simulation conducted over an extended period of time tests the effectiveness of technology, personnel and processes to detect and respond to a targeted attack.


Ethical hacking tools


In order to detect hidden and complex vulnerabilities, ethical hackers use a range of open source and commercial pen testing tools to assist with network and asset discovery, attack surface mapping and exploitation. Popular ethical hacking tools include Burp Suite, Kali Linux, Wireshark, Metasploit and OpenVAS.


Choosing an ethical hacking company


When commissioning an ethical hacking engagement, it’s vital to seek out an accredited cyber security company that demonstrates a commitment to the highest technical, ethical and legal standards.

Redscan’s CREST STAR, CRT, CCT INF and CCT APP certified ethical hackers are experienced at uncovering and helping to address complex vulnerabilities across internal and external infrastructure, wireless networks, web apps, mobile apps, network configurations and more.

Computing Security 2018 - Winner  SC 2018 awards Winner Best Customer Service  Computing Security 2017 - Winner

Recognised as Pen Testing Solution of the Year for the last two years, Redscan’s ethical hacking services include complete post-test care, actionable outputs, prioritised remediation guidance and strategic security advice to help make long-term improvements to your organisation’s cyber security posture.

Learn more about our ethical hacking services


Read more:

How to detect and respond to threats amidst a growing skills shortage

The MITRE ATT&CK framework and the importance of scenario-based security testing

Redscan takes home Pen Testing award for second successive year



About the author

The Redscan Marketing team, now part of Kroll's Cyber Risk practice.