Thursday 05 September, 2013
Pentesting, or penetration testing as it’s officially called, is a way to assess the overall security of your website by basically hacking into it just like hackers would. The idea is to attack a website, network or web application to find the weaknesses hackers could exploit. The difference is that you’re not harming the network.
The other big difference is that you end up with a detailed report that identifies all risks and whether or not they’re high, medium or low level. Pentesting reports usually also come with remedies that will help you patch up these weaknesses.
Pentesting helps you identify a number of different types of weaknesses in your site. They could be glitches in your hardware or software, or weaknesses in the programming. The weakness could be caused by improper configuration somewhere in your system. Pentesting can also expose human negligence and errors such as bad passwords.
Why Pentesting Is Important
Pentesting is important for a number of reasons. In addition to showing you problems, it gives you an idea of how feasible a successful attack on your system would be. In other words, you can get a good idea of how at-risk your site is. Pentesting can identify problems that regular security systems won’t because you’re actually attacking the system rather than dealing in hypotheticals. Best of all, it tests your defense network and helps you to strengthen it. The value of the test is that you walk away from it with concrete ideas on improving your security.
If you want to have your site or system pentested, there are several ways to go about doing it. You can do an external or an internal test. The most common tests are external. They simulate a hacker from outside your company who has no authorized access trying to get in.
However, there is also great value in conducting internal tests. An internal test simulates an attack from inside. If the hacker already has authorization or access, there are different weaknesses that can be exploited. Internal attacks are less common but they can be far more damaging.
Outsource or In-House
You can choose either to outsource pentesting or conduct it in-house. There are third party companies that specialize in pentesting. These are the pros when it comes to attacking system and looking for weaknesses. You can also buy software programs that you run yourself.
Penetration testing is sometimes confused with conducting a vulnerability assessment, but these are completely different tests. A vulnerability assessment analyzes the site or network for potential weaknesses but it doesn’t actually try to attack. Pentesting is more reliable because the tester actually tries to get through.
Pentesting is a very good way to make sure your site is safe and it can help you develop a defense system that will work if and when your site is attacked.