What Are the Different Types of Penetration Testing?
In the modern corporate arena, cybersecurity is undoubtedly among the recurring problems companies strive to resolve.
Every day, you hear about cybersecurity news of hackers exploiting vulnerable sites, attacking computer servers and systems, snatching away business data and other assets.
Regardless of how IT and security management teams strain to thwart these security intrusions, hackers are frequently a step ahead of them.
Fortunately, there’s a way to discover susceptibilities before hackers can manipulate them -- and that’s through penetration testing or pentesting.
That said, let’s delve into an overview of this activity and the different types of penetration testing.
Pentesting: A Brief Overview
Penetration testing is a cyber-attack simulation that concretely checks your cyber defenses’ strength and exposes their loopholes.
It is essential whenever you add or update your IT and electronic systems, uncover new cybersecurity threats and hacking attempts, relocate your business office, and establish additional policies.
Among the pentesting benefits you can get are:
- Proper and adequate security risk management
- Customer, asset, and reputation protection
- Better business sustainability
- Security investment evaluation
- Regulatory compliance, and more.
Different Pentesting Types
With pentesting defined and its benefits listed, here are its various types:
- Social Engineering
This one is a social experiment that simulates hackers’ phishing tactics.
Pentesters attempt to purposely trick or convince your staff (or other individuals with access to company data) into sharing confidential pieces of information with them.
With phishers fraudulently snatching these assets from data holders, they can now painlessly break into your company systems and access an even richer data trove.
Social engineering pentests can be executed in two ways:
- Physical. This method entails using physical means or presence to acquire private information. Sample physical social engineering pen tests include false, persuading or threatening phone calls, dumpster diving, impersonation, and more.
- Remote. This method involves tricking employees into disclosing confidential details through electronic means, commonly by launching email phishing campaigns.
Aside from illegally obtaining sensitive data through these fraudulent means, pentesters also check if your employees will fall prey to ransomware attacks (still a top cybersecurity trend).
Phishers can insert ransomware-infected email attachments or page links that, when downloaded or clicked, prevent you from accessing your files and systems -- unless you pay the amount of money they’re asking for.
When pentesters implement these social engineering experiments, remember that your employees can commit these blunders without knowing or any malicious intention.
Human error is inevitable. That’s why you must make this test a vital part of their security initiatives.
These checks investigate the security of each wireless device you own and use in your company.
The more electronic devices and technologies you use, the greater the need for you to test their ability to thwart illegal intruders (and the longer the penetration exams will take).
Wireless pentests can have targeted approaches as professionals assess the security of devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, tablets, Bluetooth-powered speakers, and other smart gadgets.
Wireless penetration tests also include unearthing any encryption weaknesses from those devices (such as through session hijacking).
These expose any means for hackers to permeate your systems through electronic connections and discover susceptible aspects within admin credentials (e.g., weak passwords) and access points.
These tests expose any security threats appearing locally -- that is, in specific software tools, plugins, browsers, media players, content creation packages, and other applications installed on your employees’ devices.
Cyber hijackers can quickly manipulate any loopholes in these online mechanisms and pose an enormous risk to your business.
Such vulnerabilities and flaws can come even from well-known, frequently used programs, such as Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Adobe RoboHelp, Adobe FrameMaker, Microsoft Office, and others.
For instance, if you have a social media marketing team that uses social media browser extensions, you must ensure they’re using secure ones and test their defenses against potential cyber-attacks.
So checking them all through client-side testing is worth the attempt. You should also scrutinize any company-developed software tools as they can have bugs and other security weaknesses.
- Network Services
In the pentesting world, network services tests are deemed the most frequent and high-in-demand type for clients.
This test entails uncovering security loopholes in your network infrastructure. Pentesters can do it remotely or locally (at the corporation’s place of business) -- but these professionals recommend taking both approaches to gain as much information and insight as possible.
In this test, pentesters scrutinize the following:
- Stateful analysis examination;
- Firewall configuration assessment;
- IPS evasion;
- Firewall bypass checks;
- DNS attacks: zone transfer testing; any kinds of routing or switching problems; any other mandatory network testing
Network service testing is not as thorough as the web application penetration test (which we’ll discuss later), but can still give you a 30,000-feet view of your cybersecurity.
- Web Application
Web app pentests are known as the “deeper dive” since they are intensive. They are typically more complicated, requiring more time for pentesters to correctly probe into each Web app.
Web app pentests examine your web-based applications’ endpoints, and throughout their source codes, APIs, back-end network, and database, including plugins.
These tests can be highly targeted, providing more in-depth reports when disclosing potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities, such as bypass authentication, input validation, buffer overflow, cross-site scripting (XSS), etc.
If you’re an e-commerce business owner, know that these vulnerabilities are common in the online retail store industry, making you susceptible to honeypots for hackers. You must then take appropriate measures to secure your ecommerce website with this kind of pen test and other tactics.
You can use specific tools to execute this pen test, but it is best for you to consult and tap professional service providers specializing in its execution. These experts can even build a reliable methodology tailored to your business profile and needs.
Cloud-based penetration tests assess the cyber defenses safeguarding your company assets on the cloud.
They pinpoint susceptibilities within configurations, networks, and applications you set up on the cloud that cybercriminals can permeate through to access your internal systems, company credentials, and other private information.
Through these tests, you can determine your cloud deployment’s security and find ways to enhance your cloud environment.
Is your business dependent on a platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) -- which are often the nature of some online project management tools, ecommerce websites, computing infrastructure, etc?
If yes, conducting this kind of pentest is imperative to your cloud security.
Secure your company with these different pentesting types.
Penetration tests assist you in unearthing real security threats and exploitable loopholes and support your cyber risk reduction measures.
Through these various types of pentests, you can cover your entire security landscape -- both IT and physical -- to ensure you and your clients are safe from cyber hijackers and their asset-stealing booby traps.