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4 Steps for Successful Network Penetration Testing

Organizations are becoming more aware of cybersecurity threats, and are working to strengthen their security posture through routine scans and employee training. Unfortunately, reported data breaches increased by 14% during the first quarter of 2022 compared to last year. With threat actors becoming more bold, it’s crucial to understand where you stand against them through the use of network penetration tests.

Network penetration testing involves the use of a variety of tools to simulate an attack on a company's network to see how easily information could be stolen or compromised. During this simulated engagement, cyber security experts can identify vulnerabilities, test the security awareness training of employees, and more so you can remediate with confidence.

Due to the complicated nature of penetration testing, many businesses hire a team of experts to carry out the testing. Knowing what and how this team will be conducting the test can help you have a better understanding of the process. If you choose to conduct an in-house pentest, you’ll still need to know what steps to take for successful network pentesting. Below, we’ll walk through the four steps for conducting a successful network penetration test.

 

Types of Network Pentests

There are six types of penetration tests. The following four types directly involve your network:

  • External Network Penetration Testing
  • Internal Network Penetration Testing
  • Wireless Penetration Testing
  • Application Penetration Testing

No matter which type you choose, your penetration test needs to follow set steps to allow for maximum benefits.

 

4 Steps To Performing a Successful Network Penetration Test

 

1. Define the Scope of Your Pentest

The scope of a penetration test determines the level of intrusion your pentesters will aim for as well as identifying specific starting and ending points. For example, an external network penetration test will begin on the outside of your network with the objective of breaching your security. Once a simulated data breach occurs, the test would stop. Different types of network pentests will have different scopes, but each test has its own time frames and procedures organized using a pentest framework.

2. Perform a Detailed Reconnaissance

Threat actors do their homework, and so should pentesters. Before the pentest engagement, it’s crucial to gather as much data as possible during the reconnaissance stage. This includes information about network topology, operating systems, employee information, and more. Much of this information can be gathered from your organization’s websites and other outside sources. 

The tester should identify a list of potential and theoretical weaknesses based on the information they have gathered. Testing too early without proper information can lead to inaccurate results, resulting in your organization still potentially open to cyberattacks. 

3. Don’t Rely on Automation Alone

Automated tools and vulnerability scans can save you time, but it’s essential to have an expert team perform the engagement and manually review the results of automated scans. This is because tools alone can miss important findings that trained professionals can catch. 

Plus, some network penetration tests involve seeing how far user privileges can be escalated once a vulnerability is exploited. This is just one example of how having a professional assessment can increase your awareness of your network’s weaknesses.

4. Create (and Utilize) Robust Reporting

If you’re conducting the pentest in-house, avoid creating a report that contains only generic results of your scans and tools. Relying solely on tools for your report, means that there was no analysis of the findings. Having actionable steps for remediation is crucial for getting the most out of any pentest. 

If you’re using the services of a pentesting team, ensure that their reporting provides clear and actionable information so you can improve your security posture and prevent threat actors from exploiting the same exploits that were found. 

 

Protect Your Business: Network Penetration Testing

Being infected with ransomware is just one of the many situations your organization may face without network pentesting. To ensure the safety of your business, regular pentesting along with vulnerability scanning and assessments are necessary components of your cybersecurity strategy. 

Discover how pentest experts can help you protect your business. Request more information on pentesting with Mitnick Security.

Request More Information About Penetration Testing

Topics: pentest team, network security

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