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Penetration testing (pentest)

Introduction

It is impossible to know when a hacker might target your IT system, but it is possible to make an educated guess as to how they might try to gain access. There are only a limited number of ways into a system through the network, and these are the common routes that hackers use regularly. For a company, or even an individual for that matter, who cares about the sensitive information being kept in their IT system, it is imperative that they consider having a penetration test done on a regular basis.

What is it?

Penetration testing, which is commonly referred to as pentesting, is the act of trying to break into your own IT systems. It considered to be “white-hat” hacking. That is to say, the act of doing a “pentest” is no different than what a hacker might do to get into your system, but if you or a company that specializes in penetration testing wants the test performed, it is “good” hacking.

The way that a pentest is performed changes from system to system and from user to user, but the end result should be very similar. The person doing the test should have found out whether the system in question can or cannot be hacked. Pentesting is usually performed with specialized tools that are based on the Linux platform. There are also a number of software frameworks that are used for the purpose of exposing vulnerabilities. Some of these include Nmap, Metasploit Project, W3af, and many more. While each of these products behaves differently and uses unique approaches to achieve similar results, they are only as effective as the user is competent in understanding the risks that these tools discover. It is, therefore, recommended to seek outside help when running serious pen tests.

These tools employ a variety of methods to check for ways into a network or system. One way that this is accomplished is by overloading certain aspects of a network while looking for errors that show up. Errors offer a variety of possible entry points for hackers including supplying the hacker with too much usable information about the system as well as exposing usable ports and input streams.

Why is it important?

It is also considered to be “offensive security,” which basically means that instead of waiting around for an attack that will test out your IT department’s security measures, a person or company can actively attempt the break-in themselves to help make decisions pertaining to the reliability of the system’s security setup.

Conclusion

The reasons are fairly clear as to why penetration testing should be performed on a regular basis. The need for the kind of offensive approach to security breach defence is especially important in systems that have valuable or sensitive information stored, such as customer data bases, financial records, medical records, a company’s sales reports, legal documentation, etc. Holm Security offers a comprehensive penetration test that leaves the customers with settled minds.