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Penetration Testing The Ultimate Tool for Cyber Security Assessment

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The procedure for a pentest

A strong penetration testing methodology evaluates the organization’s security posture, is comprehensive, and is not entirely automated. But to be comprehensive, your pen test should cover these Six steps or phases:

1. Scoping

The project or testing scope agreement, typically included in a Statement of Work with the testing vendor, should cover the high-level testing methodology and the exploitation-depth allowed once vulnerabilities are discovered. Penetration testing is a white hat process, meaning the attacker is a tester playing by rules of engagement determined during scoping; therefore, the engagement itself should neither disrupt normal business operations nor should it account for those occasions when it might. 


2. Reconnaissance

During this next phase, the tester will use various sources to gather as much information about the target as possible, including researching the organization, generating threat intelligence, and enumerating attractive services within the network.

An experienced penetration tester will collect information available publicly, called open-source intelligence, as well as general information about systems provided by the enterprise that might also be available in public.

3. Vulnerability Assessment

This phase of the engagement goes deep to identify the vulnerabilities on the target network.

The penetration tester will send probes to the target network, collect preliminary information, and then use the feedback to probe for more input and to discover additional details.

4. Actively exploiting vulnerabilities identified.

Once a threat model and attack plan have been developed based on the discovered vulnerabilities, the next phase is to penetrate systems in the targeted network.

There is no guarantee that every discovered vulnerability will be exploited; there could be a secure network, DMZ, firewall, server, router, or an old system in the network that remains outside the scope of the test.

5. Final Analysis and Review

 This comprehensive report includes narratives of where we started the testing, how we found vulnerabilities, and how we exploited them.

It also includes the scope of the security testing, testing methodologies, findings, and recommendations for corrections.

Where applicable, it will also state the penetration tester’s opinion of whether or not your penetration test adheres to applicable framework requirements.


6. Utilize the Testing Results

The organization being tested must actually use the findings from the security testing to risk rank vulnerabilities, analyze the potential impact of vulnerabilities found, determine remediation strategies, and inform decision-making moving forward.

Effective penetration testing requires a diligent effort to find enterprise weaknesses. We’ve developed these six stages of penetration testing because we’ve proven that they prepare organizations for attacks and fix areas of vulnerability.

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