Network

Getting Started With Network Penetration Testing

Louise Simon
By Louise Simon
contributor

February 22, 2022


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  • If you’re responsible for the security of a corporate network, then you need to be familiar with the process of network penetration testing. It is a method of testing for security loopholes by breaking into a network or computer system. It can be used to protect your network, ensure compliance with regulations, and even attract new customers. In this post, we’ll go through what pentesting is and how to get started. We’ll also look at some of the finest tools that may assist you in your work.

    What is Network Pentesting?

    Network pentesting is the process of attacking a computer system or network to discover vulnerabilities. Pentesters use a variety of methods, including reconnaissance, discovery, and exploitation, to attempt to gain access to sensitive data or systems. Pentesting can be used for a variety of purposes, including protecting your own network from attack, ensuring compliance with regulations, and even marketing your security services. This in turn also allows users to keep the data secure from potential attacks or invasions.

    Yes, it is legal to pentest your own network as long as you comply with any applicable laws and regulations. However, if you are not authorized to test the networks of other organizations, you could face criminal charges if you do so. If you have any doubts about the legality of pentesting, it’s always a good idea to talk with your network provider first.

    Importance and Benefits of Network Penetration Testing

    There are a number of reasons why you might want to perform a network pentest. Some of the most important include:

    Protecting Your Data:

    One of the primary purposes of pentesting is finding the security flaws before a hacker does. By finding and fixing these vulnerabilities, you can help protect your data from being stolen or compromised.

    Ensuring Overall Security:

    A well-conducted pentest can uncover weaknesses in your security posture that may go undetected otherwise. This makes it easier to fix them before anything bad happens.

    Compliance Requirements:

    Many organizations are required to undergo pentesting as part of their compliance with various regulations, such as the PCI Data Security Standard.

    Continued Maintenance:

    Even if your organization is not currently subject to any compliance requirements, it’s still a good idea to perform regular software pentests. This helps ensure that any vulnerabilities that may exist are discovered and fixed before they can be exploited.

    Attracting New Customers:

    Businesses of all sizes are becoming more concerned about their security posture. Performing a network pentest can demonstrate to potential customers that you take your security seriously and are committed to protecting their data.

    Steps to Perform Network Penetration Testing

    There isn’t one specific process for performing a network pentest. However, there are some general steps that most pentesters follow:

    Reconnaissance:

    The first step is to gather as much information about the target system as possible. This includes identifying any publicly-accessible systems and gathering data about the networks they’re connected to.

    Discovery:

    Next, the pentester will attempt to identify any vulnerabilities that may exist on the target systems. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as scanning for open ports or attempting to exploit known vulnerabilities.

    Exploitation:

    Once a vulnerability has been identified, the pentester will attempt to exploit it to gain access to sensitive data or systems.

    Post-exploitation:

    After gaining access to the target system, the pentester will typically take steps to maintain that access and gather additional information. This may include installing backdoors or stealing data for later analysis.

    If required, include a 5th step that covers professional documentation of the penetration tests.

    3 Methods of Performing Network Penetration Testing

    There are three primary methods of performing network pentesting: black box, grey box, and white box.

    1. Black Box Pentesting

    In black-box testing, the pentester has no prior knowledge of the target system other than what is publicly available. This approach is generally used when attacking systems that the pentester does not have permission to test.

    2. Grey Box Pentesting

    With grey box testing, the pentester has limited knowledge about the target system. This can include things like passwords, IP addresses, and specific vulnerabilities. Gray box testing is often used when pentesting systems that the pentester is authorized to test.

    3. White Box Pentesting

    With white box testing, the system is not foreign to the pentester. They usually have full knowledge of the target system. This includes everything from passwords and IP addresses to specific vulnerabilities and patch levels. White box testing is generally used for internal penetration tests.

    6 of the Best Tools You Should Use for Network Penetration Testing:

    There are plenty of tools for network pentesting. Some of the most popular ones include:

    1. Astra Pentest:

    This is a penetration testing tool by Astra Security. You get real-time vulnerability updates and recommendations on how to fix them. This tool scans firewalls, servers, routers, UPS, etc. In the end, you can export the results to various formats including PDF. Astra Security is always available for support should you run into any problems or require manual testing.

    2. Nmap:

    Nmap is a widely-used port scanner that can be used for identifying open ports on systems as well as scanning networks for vulnerable hosts.

    3. Hydra:

    Hydra is a tool for brute forcing login credentials on websites and other online services.

    4. Wireshark:

    Wireshark is a packet analyzer that may be used to monitor, capture and analyze network traffic.

    5. Nikto:

    Nikto scans web servers for malicious files and weak points. It does this by scanning files uploaded against thousands of known harmful files and vulnerabilities.

    6. Metasploit:

    Metasploit is an open-source toolkit for pentesting networks and systems. It includes a variety of modules for attacking various types of systems and services. It also generates exploits and payloads.

    Summary

    Network penetration testing can help organizations uncover weaknesses in their security posture that may go undetected otherwise. This makes it easier to fix them before any incident takes place. performed on your behalf, ensuring the safety of your data as well as compliance with any regulatory requirements you may have. Additionally, network pentesting can help to attract new customers by demonstrating your commitment to data security.

    When performed correctly, network pentesting can be a valuable asset in improving the security of an organization. However, it’s important to note that it should not be used as a substitute for other security measures such as firewalls and antivirus software. Pentesting should be considered just one part of an overall security strategy. 

    If done with proper planning and execution, it can provide great value and peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your data. It’s always advisable to have a professional perform the test rather than attempt it yourself. While there are many tools available, using them without proper training can lead to inaccurate results and potential damage to systems or data. It’s preferable to be cautious than sorry when it comes to data security.

    It’s critical to remember that security should be the top priority while performing network penetration testing. Always obtain written permission from the target organization before beginning any pentesting activity. Be sure to stay within the bounds of what is authorized and avoid causing any damage or disruption to systems or data. Remember that pentesting is an attack on a system, so use caution when conducting tests and always have a plan B in case things go wrong.

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