At Redscan, our team of experienced pen testing consultants play a vital role in helping to protect our clients by identifying and helping to remediate cyber security risks.
But if your organisation hasn’t commissioned a pen test before, you might be wondering what’s actually involved. Read on to learn about the key penetration testing steps we follow.
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing is a type of ethical hacking engagement designed to identify security vulnerabilities across an organisation’s infrastructure, networks and applications, and provide remediation advice to address them.
However, no two pen tests are the same. Every organisation has its own testing requirements and penetration testing steps vary according to the type of test being performed and its objectives.
At Redscan, as a CREST-accredited pen testing company, we work closely with you to identify the penetration test that is right for your organisation and which will deliver the outcomes you need to help meet your security goals. In order to achieve this, we divide our engagements into three distinct penetration testing steps.
Penetration testing steps
The scoping stage of a penetration test is crucial because it allows us to identify the type of assessment which is best suited to your organisation’s needs. In this step, we work with you to define the full remit and goals of the pen test, including listing the systems and applications to be assessed. We also identify the most appropriate testing methodology to use – either blackbox, greybox or whitebox.
Our goal is to maximise the value your organisation achieves from its investment, allowing you to balance your security requirements and budget. By establishing clear parameters, we don’t test anything you don’t want us to and ensure that we conduct assessments in line with the highest technical, legal and compliance standards. This includes pen testing that is aligned to the requirements of the GDPR, PCI DSS and ISO 27001.
The next of the penetration testing steps is to put the scoping plan into action and begin to identify and assess vulnerabilities. The activities at this stage can vary depending on the type of test performed.
One potential activity, conducted as part of a blackbox assessment, is active and passive reconnaissance. Here, our testers gather information using open-source techniques (passive), as well as network and vulnerability scanning to obtain an in-depth view of your organisation’s infrastructure (active).
Once an overview of the network has been established, system and/or application analysis is performed on any systems and applications in scope in order to identify vulnerabilities and possible ways to exploit them.
Some engagements, such as red team operations, require us to complete actions that attackers use daily against organisations. This can include vulnerability exploitation, as it is important to understand the extent to which a vulnerability could allow an attacker to compromise an organisation. Our testers use any information previously gathered and their knowledge of the latest adversarial tactics, techniques and procedures to exploit vulnerabilities identified (if agreed upon within the scope) and obtain initial access.
In these types of engagements, it is also important to attempt to conduct horizontal and vertical movement. This could involve attempting to elevate privileges by compromising user accounts that may have broader access to an environment. This is to ensure that we complete objectives set out during the scoping process.
3. Reporting and debriefing
To ensure that we deliver the best security outcomes, the report and debrief is a crucial final step in our pen testing process.
The last of the penetration testing steps is to deliver a client report which outlines the specific vulnerabilities identified in the pen test, their impact, how they were discovered and what an attacker could achieve if the vulnerabilities are left unaddressed. We also specify any sensitive data accessed and, in specific circumstances, how long we were able to stay undetected.
Our pen testing reports also include analysis of the potential business impact of each issue identified. To achieve this, we assign vulnerabilities a comparable score (critical/high/medium/low) with an accompanying explanation of what each score means for your organisation.
Recommendations for remediation form a key part of every pen test report. We carefully guide our clients through the required remediation actions and advise on the technical information to share with vendors, which will help them to address vulnerabilities within their infrastructure and applications.
Achieving results with pen testing
To learn more about penetration testing steps and how our services can support your security needs, feel free to schedule a quick no-obligation call with our cyber security experts. We can tell you more about what’s involved and the techniques we use, as well as advise about the best type of VAPT for your organisation.