If your organization has an internal network with valuable data, you may be vulnerable to an internal attack. An automated vulnerability scan may be suitable for a routine check, but these software scans often miss critical threats within your internal systems.
What’s more, automated scans can’t show you the big picture of what could happen if a threat actor gains access to your internal network. And some commonly used tactics are not possible to assess with an automated scan.
That’s where internal network penetration testing steps in. This simulated attack begins with basic user access to your internal network that will allow you to learn the vulnerabilities within your organization and to effectively remediate them.
Internal network pentesting is the ultimate test against your organization. Professional penetration testers will pit themselves against your systems from the inside, and they won’t stop there. Pentesters will take advantage of the vulnerabilities found internally to move laterally through your organization, logging their progress every step of the way.
A pentest mirrors probable attacks against your organization that a threat actor would employ to compromise your systems and exploit weaknesses.
They may use vulnerable points to gain further access and control of your system through the use of lateral movement inside your network. Vulnerable points that could compromise your internal systems and may be tested during an internal network pentest include:
For an internal pentest, the Global Ghost Team led by Kevin Mitnick will scope the engagement parameters during the planning phase. Kevin and his team will then decide which team members will work best for the engagement. These selected members of the Global Ghost Team will prepare for testing during the pre-attack phase and then launch their attempts to find and exploit vulnerabilities within your systems during the attack phase.
This process can be done in person, but the Global Ghost Team has adapted to working remotely while still effectively carrying out all phases of the internal network pentest.
Once the attack phase begins, the Global Ghost Team will attempt to gain further access and control of your network from the inside. A technical means of increasing privileges and moving freely through your systems is attempted first to show infrastructure weaknesses, such as loopholes and potential exploitation opportunities with your purchased software.
After these tactics are employed, the team may use alternative techniques to take advantage of flaws in the configuration of the internal network. This could be as simple as taking passwords from the internal memory using our systems or the compromised internal system.
Since every action and test performed was authorized when formulating the guidelines and is logged by the team, you can rest assured that the penetration test will provide insight into your systems without disrupting your day-to-day operations.
The cost of an internal network pentest engagement is not one size fits all. This is partly because this pentest is often combined with other types of penetration tests to address a multitude of cybersecurity concerns. Another consideration is the overall goal of the test, as some organizations may have more time-consuming concerns they want to address.
An internal network penetration test may take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the scope of the test and the guidelines that were created in the beginning stages of the engagement.
The cost and time investment of an internal network penetration test is nothing compared to what could happen if a real threat actor infiltrated your network.
For example, the average cost of remediation for victims of a ransomware attack doubled from over $761,00 in 2020 to $1.85 million in 2021. An internal network penetration test is a great way to improve the security posture of your company and mitigate risks from internal exploits.
Both internal and external penetration testing can benefit your organization, but they are different in their approaches. Internal network pentests are performed on an organization’s network through the use of tools within a tailored framework to find vulnerabilities such as impossible access — user accounts accessed from other countries or otherwise improbable circumstances for being on the network — weak passwords, and more. These weaknesses are then explored to find out how much damage a threat actor could do within your systems.
In an external network penetration test, the pentesters remotely search for security vulnerabilities in internet-facing assets such as web, mail, and different servers. They attempt to breach the defenses and access your internal network.
Because an external network pentest stops once a data breach occurs, an internal network pentest can be layered with external network testing to give an organization a full view of how a threat actor can breach your external security and what they can do once inside your network.