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Real Time Mapping & Penetration Testing

Penetration testing and real-time mapping are two essential tools in the field of cyber security. While they may seem unrelated at first glance, combining the two can provide organizations with a comprehensive view of their security posture and help them identify and mitigate potential risks.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also known as pentesting, is a simulated cyber attack that tests a system’s defenses and identifies vulnerabilities that could be exploited by real attackers. This can include testing the security of networks, applications, and physical infrastructure. Penetration testing can be performed manually or with the help of automated tools, and can be conducted internally or by third-party vendors.

Types of Penetration Testing

There are several different types of penetration testing that organizations can use, depending on their specific needs and requirements. These include:

  • Network penetration testing: This involves testing the security of an organization’s network infrastructure, including routers, switches, firewalls, and other network devices.
  • Web application penetration testing: This involves testing the security of an organization’s web applications, including web-based portals, online stores, and other web-based services. Usually, the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities are taken into consideration as the primary checks such as Broken Authentication, Cross Site Scripting, Security Misconfiguration etc.
  • Mobile application penetration testing: This involves testing the security of an organization’s mobile applications, including iOS and Android applications. Security patches for the whole OS, API pentesting, code analysis, etc. are the primary focus areas of mobile application penetration testing.
  • Physical penetration testing: This involves testing the security of an organization’s physical infrastructure, including buildings, data centers, and other physical assets. Physical pentest specialists create simulated attacks that mimic a criminal’s actions to gain unauthorized access to sensitive equipment, data centers, or sensitive information of which the test may include doors, locks and intrusion alarms.

General Penetration Testing Methodology

  1. Planning and Preparation: This step involves defining the scope of the test, identifying the assets to be tested, and obtaining permission from the relevant stakeholders. A detailed plan is created, outlining the testing methodology, tools, and techniques to be used.
    • It is one of the most time consuming stages as the system or apps have to be inspected.As both parties have to sign the rules and engagement and the scope of the testing so as to avoid unnecessary intrusion in out of scope items.

       

  2. Reconnaissance: During this phase, the tester collects information about the target network– including IP addresses, domain names, tech stack, and network topology– depending on the type of test (black or white box). This information is used to identify potential entry points and vulnerabilities and plan out initial testing steps and focus areas for scanning.

     

  3. Scanning: Here the tester uses automatic scanning tools as well as manual tools to scan the network or web app for open ports, services, and vulnerabilities. This helps to identify potential weaknesses or low hanging fruits that can be further exploited in order to escalate privileges. Scanning is of two types, Active and Passive.
    • Active scanners like nmap, wireshark,burp suite etc directly interact with endpoints by querying them with test traffic packets and reviewing the responses for hits whereas passive scanners and tools like shodan, exploit-db, recon-ng, theHarvester etc “silently” scan the network to detect weaknesses without actively interacting with endpoints.

       

  4. Vulnerability Analysis: The tester uses specialized tools to identify and verify vulnerabilities in the network. This includes testing for weak passwords, unpatched and outdated software, and misconfigured systems etc.
    • Some of the common tools for exploiting vulnerabilities are metasploit framework and Empire framework which are used to maintain connections and run exploits.

       

  5. Exploitation: The tester attempts to exploit the identified vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to the network or the targeted system. This helps to validate the severity of the vulnerabilities and the effectiveness of the existing security controls.

     

  6. Post-Exploitation: Once access has been gained, the tester attempts to escalate privileges and move laterally till they have highest access privilege on the target system or application where it can be used for malicious activities. This helps to identify additional vulnerabilities and potential attack paths.

     

  7. Reporting: The tester documents all findings and provides recommendations for remediation. The report should include an executive summary, detailed findings, and recommendations for improving the security of the network.

     

  8. Remediation: The organization takes steps to address the identified vulnerabilities and improve the security of the infrastructure. This may involve applying patches, updating software, and implementing additional security controls.

     

  9. Re-Testing: After the remediation has been completed, the network is retested to ensure that the identified vulnerabilities have been addressed and that the network is now more secure.

In addition to these different types of penetration testing, there are also several different methodologies that organizations can use to conduct their tests. These include:

  • White box testing: It is a testing technique that examines the internal workings and structure of an application’s codebase. It’s main objective is to identify any errors or issues in the codebase and ensure that the software is functioning as expected.

Merits :

  • Comprehensiveness – White box testing helps improve the quality of the code as it identifies and fixes defects, making the code more reliable and easier to maintain.
  • Unit Test – Individual lines or units of code are tested to see if they are functioning as intended and helpful in determining the defects and errors.
  • Increased test coverage – White box testing provides better test coverage as it tests the internal workings of the software, ensuring that all possible scenarios are tested.

  Considerations :

  • Time – The testing can be time consuming as it requires thorough testing and understanding of the codebase to validate it to its intended behavior.
  • Cost – Since it is more thorough the cost is quite high and it can scale up with huge applications. Furthermore, testing every code version becomes very difficult. This increase in cost may discourage devs from adding additional features.
  • Scope – White box testing has a limited scope as it only tests the internal workings of the software. It cannot test the software’s behavior in real-world scenarios.
  • Black box testing: This involves testing with no knowledge of the system being tested, simulating an attack from an outside hacker. It is designed to identify defects and errors in the software by testing it from the perspective of an end-user. During black box testing, the tester is not concerned with how the software works internally, but rather how it behaves when used by an end-user.

Merits :

  • Time – Done in less time to other approaches as the time taken is significantly less as it requires less preparation.
  • Outsourcing capability – In Black box testing, the tester doesn’t need to know the programming code so it can be done by non technical testers who would do unbiased testing and this whole thing can be outsourced.
  • Cost – It is one of the cheaper options as it requires less time and preparation

Considerations:

  • Limited test coverage: Black box doesn’t provide complete knowledge hence it can get limited
  • Difficulty in designing: Test cases are difficult to design as the tester cannot target specific areas and error prone regions.
  • Efficiency: Since the tester has blind coverage of the whole thing and having limited knowledge of the component, only selected number of test scenarios are performed which is inefficient.
  • Grey box testing: This involves testing with partial knowledge of the system being tested, simulating an attack from an internal user or contractor.

Merits :

  • Scope: The tester has a better and broad understanding of the internal structure and working of the application being tested.
  • Faster testing: Due to the tester being able to identify the critical areas of the application, the tester can simulate the real world scenarios accurately and fastly.
  • Cost: Grey box testing is quite effective as it requires less time and resources compared to other testing methods.

Considerations :

    • Limited test coverage: Grey box doesn’t provide complete knowledge hence it can get limited
    • Precision: Grey box testing is not as precise as white box testing. This is because testers do not have full access to the application’s internal workings, leading to less precise results.
    • Skill: This requires skilled testers since it requires them to have a good understanding of the application which may lead to delays.

Real Time Mapping

Real-time mapping is the process of visualising and monitoring network traffic to identify potential security threats. This includes monitoring for unusual activity, detecting unauthorized access attempts, and identifying potential sources of attack. Real-time mapping can be done using specialised software or hardware, and can help organizations quickly identify and respond to security incidents as they occur.

Combining penetration testing and real-time mapping can provide organizations with a more comprehensive view of their security setting and status. Penetration testing can identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers, while real-time mapping can help organizations detect and respond to attacks in real time. By combining the two, organizations can better protect their networks, applications, and data from cyber threats.

Regular penetration testing and real-time mapping exercises can help organizations stay ahead of the curve and ensure that they are well-prepared to defend against cyber attacks.

Regardless of the type of testing or methodology used, the ultimate goal of penetration testing is to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers. By identifying these vulnerabilities, organizations can take steps to strengthen their security defenses and better protect their networks, applications, and data from cyber threats.

In conclusion, penetration testing and real-time mapping are two essential tools in the field of cyber security. By combining these tools, organizations can gain a more comprehensive view of their security posture and better protect their networks, applications, and data from cyber threats. Regular testing and mapping exercises are essential for network and application security, and organizations must be proactive in identifying and mitigating potential security risks in today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape.