Penetration Testing is the process in which your goal is the identification of security-related vulnerabilities. You will get to be a bit of a hacker because what you will be primarily doing is putting the software up to a test with various sneaky malicious techniques of yours.
Why bother doing so? Because you do not want anybody else to be doing that work for you. Especially is that anybody is a potentially harmful third party like a hacker. They will know what to do with your projects soft belly and you will certainly not appreciate their effort.
What are the most often causes of the security breaches?
- Errors in design and/or development
- A system configuration that is fairly poor
- Other human-related errors
How important can it be?
Hackers and other people that are not too polite and ethical may prove to be an actual pain in the neck and a colossal money loss which is even worse. So where does one need to pay extra attention?
- Financial data, especially if it is being transferred to other systems
- Lot’s of clients tend to ask for penetration testing is specific areas or during the entire project, thus solving the question of where
- User data has to be secure by all means otherwise it may become an actual disaster of a biblical scale with all the fire from the sky and rivers of blood stuff
A tiny little rabbit hole may become a great way into Wonderland of your property for any hacker that follows personal gain reasons only. Through it he will be earning some of your money plus you will be dealing with the law and user data losses and whatever else that is not too good for any business. Where to look for these rabbit holes?
Pretty much everything, right? Yet is should be done anyway.
Which tools to use?
Automated application testing is a splendid mean in penetration testing. Yet it is not all it takes. And I believe never will be. Automation can and must be used in order to identify the vulnerabilities that are pretty standard and common. Thus it allows a manual tester to get a bit more focused on the hard stuff.
What should your tool be capable of?
- Simplicity in usage, deployment and configurations
- The ability of scanning your system with ease
- It has to be capable of scaling vulnerabilities by their weight and tell you which are desperate for an immediate fix
- It has to actually automate the verification of them vulnerabilities
- Re-verification of previously found exploits has to be amongst the tools’ abilities as well
- It must provide you with logs and reports that include detailed data on the vulnerabilities
Taking the matter into your own hands
Not all may be automated. Automation will not be showing you all of the vulnerabilities thus there will be a time when only a man can conquer all the dangers lurking in the code. Only a human tester will be able of attacking the app using all of his skills in order to find out where will he find a crack that allows to squeeze inside. Things like social engineering can also be done by humans only. Design, business logic, code verification – all of that is for a tester to do manually. What is the natural order of things with Penetration testing?
- Data collection. Collect as much data as possible using all means available about the system. Google searches, web page source codes and other may be used for data targeting. Be the man making the first step.
- Vulnerability assessment. Use the data you’ve collected against the targeted system. You can do some damage? Fix the place where you could do so.
- Actual exploit. The most important step is the actual attack. It requires skill. Lots of skill.
- Analysis of the results. Make all the necessary reports. Repeat. Continue with application testing.