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PEN Testing in Software Testing

Last Updated : 09 Mar, 2021
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Pen testing, a series of activities taken out in order to identify the various potential vulnerabilities present in the system which any attack can use to exploit the organization. It enables the organization to modify its security strategies and plans after knowing the currently present vulnerabilities and improper system configurations. This paper provides an overview of pen testing, why to use pen testing, what are the benefits of this, how it is carried out. This paper also provides an overview of the various phases of pen-testing. Moreover, it gives an estimated overview of the average cost of a pen.  

In the current era full of technological advancements, security is the most valuable and considered to be an issue of the highest priority. As compared to the past, the connectivity of computers through various networks has increased its extensibility exponentially, but with the greater reach, the systems involved become more and more complex to follow with every new connection, which in turn creates various loopholes in the security.

Under pen testing, the deep analysis of the running system is carried out in order to search for any kind of poor vulnerabilities, imperfect configurations of the system, flaws in the various hardware and software in use, potential operational vulnerabilities, or various countermeasures of technical faults.  Pen testing must not be confused with security functional testing. 

Why pen testing :
The goal behind using pen testing for the purpose of a vulnerability assessment is to find and identify various security holes under specific conditions, in order to eliminate/repair the risk before an attacker uses it for his own goals. IT industry security experts use this testing to address security holes built-in vulnerability assessments, focusing on vulnerability with higher risks. Pen testing is considered to be a valuable technique/tool as it benefits both business and its operations.

Benefits of Pen Testing :

  • From the perspective of business, pen-testing helps to prevent various security attacks and safeguarding the organization against any kind of failure which in turns prevents the financial losses and provides due conscientiousness and acquiescence to the industry regulators also helps in preventing and enhancing the image of the organization which in turns rationalizes the information security investments.
  • It has been seen that whenever an organization faces any security breaches, they have to face various notification costs, remediation efforts, fall in productivity, and revenue loss.
  • Another benefit of pen testing is that it helps in maintaining the systems and technologies as per the regulations imposed by the authorities’ failure of which results in the organization receiving heavy fines, imprisonment, and unlimited failures.

What is involved in pen testing :
There are basically 2 major areas of consideration that determines the scope and aim of the pen testing,

1. Testing strategies –
Based on the amount of information and details present at that time to the tester one of the following strategies can be applied.

  • Black box – 
    No information about the vulnerability is available to the tester. It’s a scratch Strategy.  
  • White box – 
    All the information about the vulnerability is provided to the tester.  
  • Grey box –
    Partial information about the vulnerability is present.  

2. Testing types –
There are 3 areas available in the scope which is to be tested by the tester.  

  • Physical structures.  
  • Logical structures.  
  • The workflow of the system.  

3. Phases of pen testing – 
Generally speaking, pen testing can be classified into 3 phases. 

  • Test preparing phase
  • The test phase consists of the Information Gathering step, Vulnerability Analysis step, and Vulnerability Exploits.
  • Test analysis phase.

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