Implementing penetration testing methodology has become really important, especially while considering data security in web applications. The more we rely on cloud-based data systems and networked communication, the more we become vulnerable to possible cyber attacks by outside parties.
Even though designing and protecting secured systems has now become standard, you cannot be certain that these systems will work. The answer is to build an all-inclusive penetration testing methodology, which will protect your information assets.
How Does Penetration Testing Methodology Work
‘Pen testing’ or Penetration Testing Methodology, is a controlled cyber attack in which the best security defenses of a system are put to test and exploited, to understand the level of vulnerabilities in your web application.
Basically, implementation of penetration testing methodology allows you to:
• Hack a system with due permission, in an authorized, proactive environment, concentrating on elements such as OS vulnerabilities, IT infrastructure, user configuration errors and application issues.
• Validate and analyze both system defenses and user adherence to protocols, and
• Evaluate potential attack vectors such as wireless networks, web applications, devices and servers.
Sadly, no data is 100% safe. But, unnecessary vulnerabilities can be eliminated with an effective penetration testing methodology.
The Advantages of Penetration Testing Methodology
An effective penetration testing methodology can help in:
• Identifying vulnerabilities that software scanning cannot
• Not only test vulnerabilities, but determine how adapted network defenders detect and respond to attacks at the right time.
• Determine and resolve the magnitude of a potential attack
• It makes sure that all compliance protocols are being met (this is especially important for the payment industry)
Another reason why penetration testing methodology should be taken seriously is because of its affect on the internal culture. If organizational leadership shows a clear commitment to data security, it strengthens its importance to employees, who then get encouraged to follow protocols properly.
How Often Should the Methodology Be Carried Out
For a successful penetration testing methodology, it is important that it gets executed regularly. It’s better to strengthen your defences before an attack happens. Once the attack takes place it is inevitable to lose valuable data.
The industry has be to be considered before planning the penetration testing methodology. Everyone doesn’t have the same security needs, but it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that confidential information stays confidential.
Organization should deploy the methodology routinely, especially when the following occurs:
• When your industry makes it compulsory: For example, the payment industry, can make it a quarterly requirement. Other sectors may make it an annual requirement.
• If there is a change to web applications or network infrastructure (internal or external): This involves modifications, upgrades, new additions, security patches and total overhauls.
• Change in policy: This is a usual occurrence on the end user’s part of the equation. Policy changes affect user’s interaction with web applications, which creates new challenges.
• If your organization changes location or adds a new location: Remote employees are a part of this, they access your web applications through ISP rather than securing your organization’s network.
Finally, while designing a penetration testing methodology, act with caution. If you think you require pentest, you probably do. Pentesting is not free, but the cost is more favorable than a data breach.
Creating an Effective Penetration Testing Methodology
Although the previous decade saw more established and widely practiced penetration testing methods, there were no standards materialized till 2010, when the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) were introduced:
In the current version of PTES, there are seven main sections:
• Intelligence Gathering
• Pre-engagement Interactions
• Vulnerability Analysis
• Threat Modeling
• Post Exploitation
These elements are fundamental to any penetration testing methodology.