Network security is essential to protect organisations from cyber attacks. Many companies conduct frequent simulated cyber attacks against their system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities. Penetration testing or pen testing is an effective method to find and fix security weaknesses that a hacker could exploit. In many organisations, it is an essential part of cyber security strategy. It is done to test the effectiveness of the system’s security controls. A data breach is a problem for a company, affecting the organisation’s reputation. After a data breach, the company must spend a lot on investigation, notification and remediation.
Penetration tests reduce the chances of data breaches by keeping the system secure. The tests are carried out in a controlled environment. It is a simulated cyberattack during which the system is compromised. Before performing the test, the employees’ privacy rights need to be considered.
Pen testing tools
Various tools are used in penetration testing to identify loopholes in the system. The common tools are
Nmap: Nmap is a network mapper. It is a free tool that allows the testers to scan the IP addresses and ports in a network and detect vulnerabilities. It will enable them to check the devices connected to a system, find out whether scanning ports are open or closed and detect the loopholes.
Nessus: Nessus is a network security scanning tool. It utilises plugins to detect new vulnerabilities in a network. It tests each port and ensures there are no vulnerabilities that a hacker can use to carry out a cyber attack. It detects software flaws, malware, missing patches and misconfiguration errors across a network.
Metasploit: Metasploit is an essential framework in penetration testing. It is a Ruby-based penetration testing platform that enables testers to write, test and execute the exploit code. The tools in the Metasploit framework are used to test security vulnerabilities, execute attacks, enumerate networks and evade detection.
Pen testing challenges
Limited time: Pen testing needs time, and it is challenging to perform it in a short time. When organisations compromise on the testing phase, it creates unnecessary pressure on the testing team and makes the system vulnerable to attacks.
Security: It is impossible to get a 100% secure system. People using the network can make errors, and any program can misbehave. The security depends on the tester’s expertise and the system’s stability.
Automation: Automated testing ensures the system’s security and maintains a quality user experience. Automated tools and processes perform the task. The process is completed quickly, but pen test professionals can do it only with the help and assistance of other specialists.
Benefits of penetration testing
Pen testing helps determine how well a system can handle various cyberattacks.
Pen testing reveals how low-risk vulnerabilities can lead to damage at higher levels.
The automated network and application scanning helps to detect harder to find risks.
Pen testing lets the organisation know whether it needs to invest in security technology and personnel.
Testing helps to prevent future attacks by implementing updated security controls.
Penetration testing is essential to keep an organisation’s IT infrastructure safe. Companies must schedule frequent pen testing to identify new security weaknesses and prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities. A cyberattack makes the organisation lose its money and productivity. Testing helps to find and fix security patches and protect the organisation from hackers. The results enable organisations to strengthen their cyber security strategy and keep their data safe.