What is Network Penetration Testing? And how to do it.

June 21, 2023

As a cornerstone of robust IT services, it's an essential process designed to assess and improve the security posture of your organization’s network. Network penetration testing, often referred to as 'pen-testing', involves simulating advanced persistent threats on a company's network infrastructure.

This method allows you to detect vulnerabilities in your network infrastructure that could be exploited by malicious actors. It encompasses various techniques like port scanning and vulnerability scanning, all aimed at identifying vulnerabilities within both external and internal networks.

In this article, we will look at the advantages of doing such assessments, different sorts of penetration tests that can be utilized, and answer the question of what network pen testing is.

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What is network penetration testing?

Network penetration testing, also known as 'pen testing', is a crucial component of any network security strategy to prevent future attacks. It's like an ethical hacking process where IT professionals mimic the tactics and techniques used by cybercriminals to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in your organization’s network.

The primary objective of this is to assess how easy it would be for unauthorized individuals or systems to gain access to sensitive data or disrupt normal operations. By simulating these attacks, organizations can evaluate the effectiveness of their security measures under controlled conditions.

Typically, you can perform network penetration testing in house. But most companies find it the quickest, cost-effective and most reliable to delegate this task to a third party expert to detect vulnerabilities in your target network.

The process

1. Vulnerability Assessment & Identification

The first step involves vulnerability scanning & identifying potential weak points within the system that could serve as entry points for attackers.

2. Exploitation

Testers attempt to exploit these vulnerabilities in your target network using tools and techniques similar to those employed by actual hackers.

3. Data Collection & Analysis

Information gathered during the test is then analyzed in detail, providing valuable insights into potential threats and risks associated with each vulnerability identified to prevent future attacks.

In essence, network penetration testing provides a real-world evaluation of your organization's cybersecurity posture. This method of being proactive allows companies to keep ahead of those looking for approaches to breach networks and take confidential data.

Types of penetration tests

When it comes to network security, there are two main types of penetration tests that businesses can use to ensure their systems are secure: external and internal.

External Penetration Testing

The first type is an external pen test. This focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in your network's perimeter or 'outer shell'. The aim here is to simulate what a potential hacker could do from outside your organization. Testing the exposed infrastructure such as firewalls, DNS servers, email servers, web servers and any other elements is essential to identify vulnerabilities from outside your organization.

Internal Penetration Testing

The second type is an internal penetration test which concentrates on finding weaknesses within your network. This might include things like inadequate access controls or unpatched software. An internal pen test simulates what a malicious insider (like a disgruntled employee) or someone who has already breached the outer defenses might be able to accomplish in the internal network.

Both types of tests play crucial roles in maintaining robust cybersecurity for businesses today. That's why you must find a testing provider that fulfills both types.

What a pen-test should include

For a thorough and effective network penetration test, several key components must be included in the vulnerability assessment. Ensure that your testing expert provides the following at the bare minimum.

Executive Summary: This provides a high-level overview of the entire pen testing process, including what was done, what was found, and why it matters.

Risk Summary: This identifies potential risks within your network, assessing vulnerabilities discovered during the test and determining their potential impact on your business operations if exploited by malicious actors.

Capabilities Analysis: This evaluates how much damage could occur if each identified vulnerability were exploited, understanding which areas of your business would suffer most from a successful cyber attack.

Recommendations: This section provides actionable steps for addressing each identified vulnerability. Our experts at Biblioso will provide detailed guidance on how to fix or mitigate these weaknesses effectively to enhance your security posture.

FAQs in Relation to What is Network Penetration Testing

Why is network penetration testing important?

It helps maintain robust security measures, prevent data breaches, and ensure regulatory compliance within organizations.

Network pen testing is an essential part of your security once your company has reached a certain stage.

Learn more about what Biblioso can do for your IT infrastructure in regards to penetration testing.

Or reach out to us directly by phone or email, and become a partner.

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