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Pen Testing – What is Penetration Testing?

25 March, 2014 | Post by SQA²

The SQA2 Blog: General

Penetration testing or pen testing is a testing procedure to find security issues/weakness of a computer system. It includes – gaining higher user privileges, functionalities and data. Pen testing is a legal testing process and requires written permission from the project owner to perform. Penetration testers are “good guys” and expose the security weakness for “good purpose”. Penetration testing can perform in two different ways – automated and manual. In both cases, the testing procedure follows some basic steps like – gathering information, identifying the access points (potential entry points), attempt to break the authentication and finally report the vulnerabilities found during the test.

What is vulnerability and Exploit?

Vulnerability is nothing but a security hole of a web application, software, operating system or even of a hardware. Weak passwords, improper user authentication, improper file type checking, lack of update even non-fixed bugs are vulnerabilities.

Exploits are taking the advantages of the vulnerabilities and gain access of the application, functionalities and data. When a penetration tester identifies a potential vulnerability, the next step is to find the right tool or the way to exploit the vulnerabilities and gain the access. There are some specialized tools and automation frameworks can successfully find and exploit the vulnerabilities.

Penetration Testing Approaches

There are numbers of penetration testing approaches used by the QA professionals. They are – targeted testing, external testing, internal testing, blind testing and double blind testing. There are different testing methodologies applicable for different approaches based on the business requirements. If you’re planning to penetration test your application, we strongly recommended that you consider all the above approaches before finalizing the test. The success of pen testing completely depends on selecting the approach. Apart from the human resource, testing tools and other infrastructure factors, selecting the accurate penetration testing approach is essential. Because selecting right testing approach not only saves cost, rather it ensures the highest level of security of the application.

Why Penetration Testing is Important?

It is very common that, organizations allocate funds for functional testing and design improvements. The main reason of it is – the project owners don’t even know the importance of penetration testing.

Think differently – if you have PCI (payment Card Integration) in your application and someone steal money by manipulating the system variables – then what next? Well, it not only makes financial loss for your business rather completely ruin your reputation. It is proven that, security breaches not only interrupt service/business hours and manpower, it also seriously affects the financial stability of the business.

Apart from the financial loss and reputation, security breaches can cause information leakage. Protecting sensitive information is very important for the service industry. User data like – medical information, banking and financial details, insurance details and much more sensitive information. Additionally, penetration testing identifies the potential security threats and prioritizes them.

How Penetration Testing Beneficial for Your Business?

Penetration testing helps your business to slash down the cost and network downtime. Additionally, regular penetration testing protects business from fines. Several financial organizations, business bureau and government authorities create security regulations for online businesses. Breaking those compliances can cause hefty fine. Finally, it helps to maintain clean corporate image and protect customer data.

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