All You Need To Know About Penetration Testing
Security is the heart and soul of all digital businesses. With modern sophisticated technology, it is always possible for a hacker to exploit any type of vulnerability in your system to inflict untold amounts of damage. This is extremely problematic for blockchain-based companies which are usually dealing with humongous amounts of money. In order to protect their investor’s interests, it is their responsibility to make sure that they are taking all steps possible to test and investigate their code thoroughly. This is where penetration testing comes in.
Penetration testing has shown itself to be the best method of discovering any potential security breaches. In this guide, we are going to look into what penetration testing means and how it can help your company.
What is Penetration Testing?
A penetration test is basically a simulated cyber attack against the system in order to check it for vulnerabilities. When it comes to web application security, penetration testing is commonly used to fortify firewalls. The insights from these penetration tests can be used to fine-tune the product and plug up the vulnerabilities.
Now, why is it needed? Well, thanks to , looks like this:
Alright, so now let’s look into each of these steps.
Stage #1: Planning and Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the act of gathering preliminary data or intelligence on your target.
It makes sense for this to be the first stage of the test because it helps one learn more about their target and hence decide on the best course of action. There are two kinds of reconnaissance:
- Active reconnaissance: In this case, the tester directly interact with their target and ask them questions to help build up their mode of attack
- Passive reconnaissance: They interact with an intermediary to get their recon information.
In this stage, the tester defines the scope and goals of their test wherein they state the systems that they are going to address and the testing methods that they are going to use.
Stage #2: Scanning
The scanning phase consists of using technical tools to gather intelligence on the target. Think of using a vulnerability scanner on the target network. This stage will help the tester understand how the target will respond to various attack attempts. There are two forms of testing that are done in this stage:
- Static Analysis: This includes inspecting the code of the application to predict how it behaves during runtime. This analysis can be done in a single pass.
- Dynamic Analysis: In this analysis, you inspect the application’s code while it is running. This analysis is much more practical, as it provides a real-time insight into how the application performs.
Stage #3: Gaining access
In this stage, you gain access by taking control of one or more network devices to either:
- Extract data from the target
- Use the device to launch attacks on other targets
This stage uses various methods to uncover the target’s vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting and backdoors. The testers can exploit vulnerabilities by escalating privileges, stealing data, intercepting traffic etc.
Stage #4: Maintaining Access
This is the stealthy part of the test. In this one, the tester tries to maintain access to the network by taking the steps needed to be able to do so.
So, what is the purpose of this stage?
Well, the tester basically checks if the vulnerability spotted can be exploited to stay inside the Dapp/project ecosystem for a long time. In other words, if the hacker takes advantage of the vulnerability, then how long can they stay in the system without being detected.
Stage #5: Analysis
Alright, so now we are in the final stage.
In this stage, all that the tester needs to do is to cover their tracks to remove all chances of detection. Basically, any changes that the tester has done must return to its original state or a state of non-recognition by the host network’s administrators.
All the results of the tests are then compiled in a report which details the following:
- The vulnerabilities that were exploited
- All the sensitive data that was accessed
- The amount of time that the tester was able to stay in the system undetected.
The report is then studied to check out all the vulnerabilities.
Penetration Testing Methods
Alright, so now we know about the different stages of the penetration test, let’s look at the different testing methods.
- External Testing: Targeting the assets of the company that is visible on the internet. Example of this is the company’s website, the web application itself, the email, and the domain name servers.
- Internal Testing: A tester gains access to the application behind its firewall and simulates an attack that a malicious attacker would do. This attacker could be a malicious employee or it could also be a phishing attack
- Blind Testing: In this test, the tester is only given the name of the enterprise that is being targeted. Doing this will help security personnel to take a real-time look into how an actual attack will take place.
- Double Blind Testing: In this case, the application will have no prior knowledge as to when the attack by the tester is going to take place. This simulates real-world conditions wherein an attacker won’t let the company know of their attack beforehand
- Targeted Testing: In this scenario both the tester and the company work together to keep each other in the know about their movements. How is this helpful? Well, it provides the company with real-time feedback from a potential hacker’s point of view.
Different Kinds of Penetration Testing
Penetration testers need to do several tests and checks. Let’s go through