Penetration testing is a computer system attack simulation to find the system’s vulnerabilities. In websites and web applications, penetration testing boosts firewall protection.
A system security analyst attempts to breach all web application components when carrying out penetration testing. May it be the back-end, front-end, or application programming interfaces? The analyst checks for loopholes in the codes or sections that might be susceptible to manipulations such as SQL injections. The insights provided during the testing process are used to improve the security of your web application by removing the diagnosed vulnerabilities.
With the increasing number of cyber security criminals, many websites are susceptible to attack. It is, therefore, necessary to carry out penetration testing from an expert computer security analyst.
Stages Involved In Penetration Testing
1. The survey and planning stage
The planning stage involves defining the goal and the scope of testing. It consists of identifying the target system and the methods to be used during the testing process. The stage also involves information gathering using brilliant tools to understand how the target works and the potential exploitation gaps or vulnerabilities. Some of the information gathered in this stage include mail servers of the system and the domain names.
2. The Scanning Stage
The second stage of penetration testing involves understanding how the target system will respond to various testing methods that will be intruded into the system. Two types of analysis are conducted in this stage; the dynamic analysis, which involves testing the web application code when running. Dynamic analysis is very effective as it gives real-time feedback about the system’s performance.
Static analysis, however, gives information about how the system would perform when running and also saves time because it is done in a single pass.
3. The Gaining Access Stage
At this stage, the testing team uses all the web attacking techniques such as SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and denial of service attacks to reveal all the system’s vulnerabilities. The penetration testing team is trying to bypass privileges, steal crucial data, or inject malicious code into the system. At this stage, the testing team can assess the damage the attacker would cause to a computer system if it is successful.
4. The Maintaining Access Testing Stage
The goal of this penetration testing stage is to check and assess the damage that would be caused by those attack techniques that persist in the system. These persistent threats can last on the system for months to steal or compromise the company’s encrypted data.
5. The Result Analysis Stage
The final penetration testing stage involves compiling the results to produce a detailed report. The report entails the exploits identified, the data breached, and, more importantly, the time the attacker would take to gain unauthorized access to the system.
A system attack may happen without the system administrator noticing. A severe system attack can mess up the entire system and never be recovered again. A hacker can penetrate the database and drop all the records. Therefore, it is crucial to test your system even when there are no notable signs of compromise.