PENETRATION TESTING: Definition, Tools, Companies & Salary

Penetration testing
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To prevent malicious attacks, organizations conduct penetration testing to search for vulnerabilities in their system. Penetration testing involves the use of electronic tools to highlight any flaw that might be a loophole for malicious attacks. There are penetration companies that also offer penetration testing as one of their services. In this article, we provide a list of penetration testing companies and tools.

What Is Penetration Testing?

A penetration test is a cybersecurity approach that involves testing your computer system for exploitable flaws. There are organizations that utilize it to find, test, and highlight software flaws and vulnerabilities. It is also known as pen test or ethical hacking,

Ethical hackers frequently perform these penetration tests. These internal staff members or outside parties imitate the tactics and behaviors of an attacker to assess how easily an organization’s computer systems, network, or web applications can be compromised.

You Can Use Penetration Testing To

In an ideal world, software and systems would have been created from the ground up to be free of harmful security defects. Pen testing provides information on the success of that goal. Pen testing can benefit a business.

  • Discover systemic flaws.
  • Identify the controls’ robustness.
  • Encourage adherence to data privacy and security laws (such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR).
  • Give management-relevant qualitative and quantitative examples of the current security landscape and budget priorities.

How Is Penetration Testing Done?

Ethical hackers are used in pen testing to put themselves in the position of malicious actors. Network owners define a precise pen-testing scope that details which systems are subject to testing and how long the testing will last.

Setting scope establishes rules, a tone, and restrictions on what the testers are permitted to perform. Ethical hackers begin their work by searching for entry points to the network after a scope and timetable have been set.

A vulnerability scan, which helps find potential entry points into a network, is typically the first step in testing. Applications that incorrectly handle malformed packets or inadequately configured firewalls could also be responsible for these vulnerabilities.

The tester can then try to get access to privileged accounts to delve further into the network and access additional crucial systems after a system has been compromised. Pentesters analyze a network and consider worst-case scenarios using escalation tactics.

Pentesters can access networks in a variety of unusual ways, depending on the scope of the test. Dropping contaminated USB drives inside a business is one of these methods. The hypothetical attack could be sped up if an unskilled employee discovers that drive and plugs it into the corporate network.

The physical layer is another part of cybersecurity that is frequently disregarded. Even the finest network security might be defeated by unlocked doors and a phony IT staff member, in some cases leading to the removal of actual gear.

Thorough findings report that summarizes tested procedures or systems, identifies compromises, and suggests corrective measures are produced once a test is finished. Annual penetration tests may be repeated following the implementation of a set of proposed security upgrades.

Common Penetrating Testing Strategies

Here are some often used penetration testing techniques based on the organizational goals:

#1. External Testing

This entails intrusions into the network perimeter of the company while also utilizing techniques executed from outside the organization’s systems, such as the Extranet and Internet.

#2. Internal Testing

This method is usually conducted from within the organization’s environment. The aim of the test is to comprehend potential outcomes in the event that the network perimeter were breached or what an authorized user may do to access a particular information resource through the organization’s network.

#3. Blind Test

In this case, the tester attempts to mimic the activities of a real hacker. In order to learn more about the target and carry out its penetration tests, the testing team must rely on publicly accessible information (such as the company website, domain name registration, etc.), for which it has little to no knowledge.

#4. Double-blind Testing

In this exercise, only a select group of individuals within the organization are made aware of the testing. The IT and security employees are “blind” to the planned testing operations because they are not informed or contacted in advance. An organization’s security monitoring, incident detection, escalation, and response processes can all be tested using double-blind testing.

#5. Targeted Testing

This also can be referred to as the lights-turned-on strategy, which entails both penetration testing and IT teams. This includes understanding testing procedures and knowledge of the target and network architecture beforehand. Compared to a blind test, targeted tests take less time and effort, but they often don’t give a fuller view of a company’s security flaws and response capabilities.

What Are Penetration Testing Examples

Examples of penetration testing include:

  • Gaining access to systems and associated databases by means of social engineering techniques.
  • Phishing emails to gain access to important accounts.
  • Gaining access to private databases via a network-shared system.
  • Unencrypting passwords.

These attempts might be much more intrusive than a vulnerability scan and could result in a denial of service or higher than normal system usage, which could lower productivity and corrupt the machines.

What Are the Types of Penetration Testing?

  • External or Internal Network Pen Testing Services
  • Web Application Pen Testing Services
  • Mobile Application Pen Testing Services
  • ICS/ SCADA Pen Testing Services
  • IoT and Internet-Aware Device Pen Testing Services
  • Social Engineering/ Client Awareness  Pen Testing Services
  • Red Team Attack Simulation
  • Wireless Network Pen Testing Services
  • Black-Box | Grey-Box | White-Box

What Are Penetration Testing Tools?

Penetration testing tools are used to automate some operations, increase testing efficiency, and detect flaws that could be challenging to find using only human analytical techniques. The most common testing techniques are static analysis tools and dynamic analysis tools.

Penetration Testing Tools

Despite the fact that penetrating testing tools are typically deployed as part of a larger security review of a network or service. Developers are free to utilize the exact same tools to verify the efficacy of their own work. Here is a list of top penetration testing tools:

#1. Kali Linux.

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution with Debian roots for penetration testing and digital forensics. Offensive Security oversees and provides maintenance for it.

About 600 penetration-testing applications (tools) are available in Kali Linux, including the graphical cyber attack management tool Armitage, the port scanner Nmap, the packet analyzer Wireshark, the password cracker John the Ripper, the automatic SQL injection and database takeover tool SQLmap, the software suite Aircrack-ng for testing wireless LANs, the Burp suite, and the OWASP ZAP web application security scanners.

#2. Metasploit.

Metasploit offers a collection of several pen testing tools. It is a framework that is continually changing. This is in order to stay up with today’s ethical hackers, who can also offer their knowledge to this platform.

Metasploit, which is powered by the PERL platform, includes a plethora of built-in exploits that can be used to conduct various pen tests and are even customizable. For instance, it already has a network sniffer built in and a number of entry points from which to launch and plan different types of cyber-based attacks.

#3. SQLmap.

SQLmap is a penetration testing tool that you can use to detect and exploit SQL injection issues. You can also use the user input to change how a SQL query is executed. It was created in 2006 by Daniele Bellucci.

#4. Burp Suite

The Java-based Burp Suite penetration testing tool was created by PortSwigger web security. It is a solution for web applications that combines testing with vulnerability scanning.

#5. Nmap.

NMAP is a penetration testing tool for identifying network environment vulnerabilities in businesses. It only applies to audits. NMAP employs newly formed raw data packets to ascertain the following:

  • What hosts are accessible on a specific network segment?
  • Information about the services that these hosts are offering.
  • Identifying the operating system (sometimes referred to as “fingerprinting”)

The versions and types of data packet filters and firewalls that a given host employs
Organizations can identify the key points of weakness that a cyber attacker might be able to exploit by utilizing NMAP to construct a virtual map of the network segment. NMAP is a free open-source program and it can be used at any point during the pen testing procedure.

#6. John the Ripper

JTR is a password cracker that works quickly and effectively. It is now available for several operating systems, including Unix, macOS, Windows, DOS, BeOS, and OpenVMS. Pen testers can use it to identify weak passwords and fix the problems with the way most people use passwords. It was designed and developed using an open-source framework.

Features of Penetration Testing Tools

#1. Accurate and In-depth Reports

A decent penetration testing tool should be able to provide thorough and in-depth findings. Finding network vulnerabilities is simply the beginning of penetration testing. The operator or administrator needs to be able to comprehend the network’s issues.

Planning the ensuing action would be difficult without this understanding. A testing report should outline, support, and evaluate the risk as well as suggest a fix for any discovered vulnerabilities.

#2. Integrated Vulnerability Scanner

The majority of penetration testing tools contain a vulnerability scanner is included. The goal of vulnerability scanning is to identify any hardware or software flaws that could one day open the system up to attack.

Regular updates are crucial since vulnerability scanners base their scanning on a published database of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE). Automated scans that may be programmed to execute on a specified list of programs are also included in scanning.

#3. Cross-platform Functionality

The flexibility to run on several devices is a crucial component of good penetration testing software. The majority of penetration testing tool is compatible with Linux operating systems, and some of it comes with the OS.

It is also essential for penetration testing tools to work across different devices with Windows operating systems, macOS, and Android mobile devices. Due to this, there is a great demand for testing software that is compatible with many devices.

#4. The Capacity to Crack Passwords

One of the weakest points in any business or computer network is the use of passwords. People frequently choose the simplest possible character combination to protect access to crucial information.

For this reason, penetration testing includes evaluations of password strength. As a result, password-cracking software is a must for penetration testing. To determine the strength of a password, they combine elements like brute force attacks, cryptanalysis attacks, and dictionary attacks.

Penetration Testing Salary

The salary for penetration testing may vary according to the roles the pen testers play or the industry. The average salary for penetration testing in the United States is an estimated value of $97,671 in total compensation annually, with an average salary of $90,596. However, these figures show an average value that is based on data about wages gathered from different users.

The projected supplemental salary is $7,075 annually. Cash bonuses, commissions, tips, and profit sharing are all possible forms of additional compensation.

Electronic Penetration Testing

Electronic penetration testing is the process of attempting to gain access without the knowledge and usernames, passwords, and other means of accessing testing. Usually, an organization’s security uses proactive procedures like pen testing to reduce the need for retroactive changes and increase its security.

Electronic penetration testing is a proactive cybersecurity measure that involves ongoing, self-initiated adjustments depending on the results the test generates. This contrasts with passive strategies, which don’t address flaws as they manifest. For instance, a business improving its firewall after a data breach would be a non-proactive approach to cybersecurity.

Penetration Testing Companies

Penetration testing companies perform penetration testing service which is a type of ethical cyber security evaluation to find and safely exploit weaknesses affecting computer networks, systems, applications, and websites so that any flaws found can be fixed in order to reduce the risk of encountering a malicious attack. Organizations contract penetration testing companies to find flaws in their computer security.

Penetration testing companies include

  • Rapid 7.
  • Secureworks
  • Astra Security
  • Detectify
  • Intruder
  • Invicti
  • Acunetix
  • Netsparker.

Why Do We Perform Penetration Tests?

  • The aim of penetration testing is to show organizations where they are most vulnerable to attack so they can take preventative measures to plug those holes before hackers can take advantage of them.
  • Test security controls to learn how well your application, network, and physical security layers are functioning as a whole.
  • The endpoints in your computer systems that are most vulnerable to attacks from enemies should be made visible.
  • This is also to ensure Compliance. Organizations can uphold industry requirements for penetration testing in information security compliance.
  • Penetration testing helps companies prioritize their vulnerabilities and solve them with a security program.

What Are the Three Types of Pentesting?

Types of pen testing include

  • Black Box Penetration Testing.
  • Grey Box Penetration Testing.
  • White Box Penetration Testing.

What Is the Difference Between a Pentest and a Penetration Test?

While pen testing happens in real-time, a penetration test refers to a specific occurrence in time. You can and should “pentest” apps, and we want more programmers and security teams to do so regularly.

In Conclusion,

Organizations usually do penetration testing to determine their vulnerabilities and make sure that computer security is operating as intended. These tests assist the business in adopting a proactive attitude as it searches for flaws in its hardware, software, and human resources in order to create efficient controls that are ongoing and capable of keeping up with the always-changing cyber threat scenario.


What language do penetration tester use?

Penetration testers are mostly familiar with Python.

What is the purpose of Pentest tools?

Many IT service providers use pentest tools for security testing. Pentest tools make it possible to find flaws in complicated hybrid environments, and testers can use them to check systems against compliance standards and security benchmarks.

What are the criteria in selecting penetration tools?

When selecting a penetration tool, keep in mind it should be easy to deploy, set up, and utilize.

It should be able to perform automated vulnerability verification.

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