Cybercrime is on the rise. Predictions say that worldwide, 1 in 8 businesses will suffer an attack by 2025.
But what's it mean to suffer an attack? What are the actual consequences of an outbreak of this nature? In this digital age, plenty.
First, you lose sensitive business information like personal data, financial information, trade secrets, and intellectual property.
But that's not all. A cyberattack will cause systems to crash, resulting in legal fines, penalties, and physical damage and injury, particularly in critical infrastructure sectors such as healthcare, transportation, or energy.
Finally, this damages a company's brand reputation, which leads to a loss of customers and revenue.
The most effective way to avoid this scenario, and protect our assets from malicious hackers, is by using preventive cybersecurity strategies.
The offensive track is the way forward
While we should use defensive tactics such as security awareness training for employees, and intrusion detection and prevention systems, more is needed to prevent society's structures from collapsing.
Offensive cybersecurity provides organizations with valuable intelligence on the tactics and techniques used by attackers, allowing them to better prepare for and defend against real-world attacks. This can be particularly important for organizations at high risk of being targeted by advanced persistent threats (APTs) or nation-state actors.
A technique that can simulate a real-world attack is the penetration test, also known as "pentest".
What is a Pentest?
A pentestis a simulated cyberattack on a computer system, network, or web application to estimate the system's security. A pentestaims to identify vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit and then provide a report of the findings to the organization so that they can remediate the issues.
There are different types of penetration tests, including, but not limited to:
EXTERNAL TESTING: simulating an attack, without access to internal networks through Internet assets of the organizations.
INTERNAL TESTING: simulating an attack with privileged access to the organization's internal network.
WEB APPLICATION TESTING: testing web applications, their underlying infrastructure, and application programming interfaces (APIs).
WIRELESS TESTING: auditing wireless networks, routers, and appliances for vulnerabilities.
SOCIAL ENGINEERING TESTING: focused on testing the organization's people and processes.
Penetration testers can use various tools and techniques to conduct a pentest, including network scanners, vulnerability scanners, and exploitation frameworks.
How is a penetration test conducted?
The steps to conducting a penetration test can vary depending on the organization and the scope of the test, but a standard process is a six-step one:
Planning and reconnaissance: It involves gathering information about the target systems, networks, or web applications. This includes IP address ranges, subdomains, open ports, and information about the organization's people and processes. Attack surface data is then used to create a test plan outlining the test coverage.
Scanning: The scanning stage involves using tools such as network and vulnerability scanners to identify potential vulnerabilities in the target systems. This step will also result in the identification of outdated services and technologies.
Gaining access:This stage involves exploiting the vulnerabilities identified in the scanning stage to gain access to the target system. This includes using exploits for known CVESs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), researching novel or specific scenarios that leverage vulnerabilities such as SSTI (Server-side template injection), path traversal and memory corruption, or leveraging weak credentials.
Maintaining access: This applies to maintaining access to the target system and attempting to escalate privileges or move laterally within the network. A vulnerability affecting an asset not critical for an organization may still result in significant damage if the network is not segmented correctly.
Covering tracks:Involves attempting to remove any evidence of the attack and cover the tracks of the tester. This can include wiping log files, disabling audit trails, or planting backdoors for future access. This step is also essential to assess the efficiency of response teams.
Reporting: A full report is written with the finding from the test, which includes a description of the vulnerabilities found, steps to reproduce, methods used to exploit them, and recommendations for remediation.
What is pentest automation?
Generally, pentest is performed internally or by third-party security companies, government agencies, or expert ethical hackers. But this doesn't cut it for this day and age of cyber criminals. And it's where automation comes along.
The most effective strategy is the one that combines AI and human hacking. Automation performs repetitive tasks, such as reconnaissance, scanning for vulnerabilities, and running exploit scripts, allowing for instant and continuous security. This allows pentest teams to focus on in-depth and creative research, resulting in more impact than the standard pentest.
"This is what Ethiack is all about."
Ethiack enhances human hacking talents with ongoing automation for advanced 24/7/365 protection. Triagers interpret the results to decide the severity of a vulnerability or the appropriate course of action.
Want to conduct a penetration test in your organization and don't know where to start?