For most organizations, security investment is a top priority. A key component of the information security architecture of today is the pen test network or penetration testing. Its significance has increased along with the sophistication of data breaches over time, which emphasizes the necessity of strengthening information security measures.

Recognizing your own vulnerabilities is just as crucial to cybersecurity as using the most recent security tools. Understanding how threats enter a system and how attackers could exploit its flaws is essential if you want to create a strong security solution to safeguard your assets and corporate data.

In this guide, we will focus on network penetration testing: what it is, its benefits, and how it works. Keep reading to find out more!

What Is a Network Pen Test?

A network pen test, also known as penetration testing, is the process of simulating cyberattacks on your own systems in order to find any weaknesses that could potentially be exploited. The goal is to find security weaknesses in the network’s security controls, disclose them, and then give the company the opportunity to fix them.

Just like vulnerability assessments, a network pen test aims to identify vulnerabilities in a network. However, as opposed to a vulnerability assessment, a network penetration test simulates a prospective assault in exact detail in order to detect network flaws that are more difficult to find.

In order to uncover security gaps in your networks, network penetration tests employ a range of hacking techniques. These tests imitate the exact methods and tactics a hacker may employ to enter the system, providing vital information about the security of the network.

What Are The Advantages Of Doing A Network Penetration Test?

1. Safeguard Your Data.

Every firm needs to protect itself from data breaches, and that’s the single most critical reason. Pen testing networks frequently operate like ethical hackers and attempt to accurately imitate cyberattacks.

A little flaw could allow the leakage of sensitive data, which would undermine customer confidence and more seriously violate a number of norms and regulations. Here, identifying the various categories of risk to which you are exposed might be useful in determining the potential intrusion’s severity.

2. Providing Overall Security

Network pen tests can help you make sure that no oversight could jeopardize the integrity of your company, its operations as a whole, sensitive data, or recently released apps.

Performing network penetration testing will let you understand your network baseline, test your network and system security controls, prevent network and data breaches, and provide network security to reduce your cyber exposure or future attacks.

Every new project should include security evaluations and website security scans, especially if sensitive data handling is involved. SQL injections, improperly set firewalls, out-of-date software, and conventional viruses or malware are a few instances of such issues.

3. Compliance Requirements

Regardless of the sector, certain requirements demand penetration testing services. For instance, data security for the credit card sector guarantees such checks for the safety of clients’ sensitive information.

4. Consistency in Maintenance

Network pen tests must be performed repeatedly over an extended period of time to guarantee long-term security. The experts employed for this reason will also examine the corporate network’s security measures, such as its firewall, multilayer security, encryption procedures, etc. Appropriate penetration tests, taking into account the system, the client, and the security at large.

External vs. Internal Network Penetration Testing

External Network Penetration Testing

An external network pen test is performed to evaluate how successfully perimeter security measures deter and detect assaults as well as find flaws in internet-facing assets like web, mail, and FTP servers.

Typically, external network pen testing is conducted by an independent or specialized team of security researchers. Unlike an internal pen test, external testing provides a new perspective on the security of the system and excels at simulating hacker behavior on the target system.

However, since it is an outside engagement, conducting this typically takes time.

Internal Network Penetration Testing

Internal pen testing is designed to test what an attacker could accomplish with unfettered access to a network. An internal network penetration test can simulate insider threats, such as staff members acting maliciously on purpose or accidentally.

Unlike external network penetration testing, this test is usually done by in-house security researchers, and it tends to be pricey if you want to maintain a full-time security team. The best part is that internal penetration testing needs less planning and can be done more frequently.

Even so, since internal security researchers are familiar with a system’s ins and outs, they frequently find it difficult to view it from a hacker’s point of view.

How Does Network Penetration Testing Work?

Network penetration and vulnerability assessments are frequently used interchangeably. Although there are some significant distinctions, most security professionals consider network penetration testing to be the stage that comes after your vulnerability evaluation.

Especially after the vulnerabilities identified in the vulnerability assessment have been resolved and the business owner wants to further evaluate the security of their network. The following steps must be taken in order for network penetration testing to be successful:

Step 1: Compiling Data and Understanding Customer Expectations

Compiling Data

There are some crucial factors to take into account while discussing the objectives of the network penetration test. There are three primary types of penetration tests: black box testing, white box testing, and grey box testing.

a) Black Box testing

Black box testing refers to a network penetration test that is carried out from the perspective of a typical hacker with little internal knowledge of the system or the network.

This kind of test is frequently the quickest since it makes use of instruments to find and take advantage of weaknesses in the network’s external interface.

It’s crucial to remember that any internal vulnerabilities won’t be found if the perimeter cannot be breached during this kind of penetration test.

b) White box testing

White box testing refers to a network penetration test that is carried out from the perspective of an IT or IS user who has access to the architecture documents and source code.

The huge amounts of data that must be examined carefully in order to uncover security vulnerabilities make this form of penetration test the most time-consuming.

c) Grey box testing

Grey box testing is the term for a network penetration test that is carried out from the perspective of a user who has access to the system and may have higher privileges.

A more in-depth analysis of the network’s security is intended to be provided by this kind of test, along with information on both internal and external vulnerabilities.

Whether you are a penetration tester or a business owner, it is crucial to understand the different kinds of network penetration tests that may be carried out because they all have unique advantages for businesses.

Understanding Client Expectations

In addition to selecting the kind of penetration test your network needs, you must also agree on the date and time the test will take place. Decide whether it will be conducted in a production or staging/testing environment, and decide whether the client wants security vulnerabilities exploited or just reported on.

Although it might seem insignificant, if there are security precautions in place on a network, it could cause mission-critical services to go offline.

Lastly, a network penetration test may be conducted in a “live” context, which would be during regular business hours, or it may be conducted outside of those hours, which may be at night or on the weekend, depending on the business’s schedule.

By this point, you ought to have records that list the data that will be used in the penetration test.

Step 2: Exploration and Reconnaissance

The reconnaissance and discovery process starts after you have agreed on the objective of the network penetration test, the data that will be used during the test, and the time and date when it will occur.


You will start your reconnaissance by using network and port scanners on the network and systems to gain an understanding of the network, the connected devices, and any vulnerabilities that may be there.

Finding the vulnerabilities’ locations will be your main objective before you can start exploiting them.

You can use social engineering as a technique to identify network weaknesses that will make it easier for you to gain access. Social engineering is the practice of using deception to persuade others to reveal confidential or sensitive information that could be used fraudulently.


In the discovery phase, penetration testers run live tests with pre-coded or custom-coded scripts to detect a potential network threat or potential security problems using the information acquired via the reconnaissance method.

Several scripts could be needed to finish the process because typically one script finds one issue at a time. Both the technical and human aspects of errors are given the same weight; for example, the technical aspect examines SQL injections or lax peripheral security, while the social aspect examines the disclosure of sensitive information.

Step 3: Exploitation

In the exploitation phase, pen testers make use of the data gathered in the discovery phase, such as potential vulnerabilities and entry points, etc., and start testing the found exploits on your network devices or IT systems.

The objective of the exploitation phase is to get access to the network environment while avoiding detection and locating entry points utilizing a variety of online pen testing tools.

Step 4: Reporting, Recommendations, and Remediation

A report detailing the procedure, the vulnerabilities discovered, the supporting data gathered, and suggestions for corrective action is written after the network penetration test is performed for a client.

It is essential for a data owner to comprehend the risk that the scanned vulnerabilities pose to their company, and it is the responsibility of the pen tester to give them a risk analysis that helps them decide what course of action to take.

Keep in mind that a good network penetration test involves more than just a successful security breach. If the tester is unable to access the network, it confirms that the organization’s current security posture is adequate for discouraging, identifying, or stopping intrusions.

Final Take

The cybersecurity of your organization depends on a solid and secure infrastructure. It is advised to do routine internal and external penetration testing to discover and help mitigate vulnerabilities, given the financial penalties of experiencing a breach.

This post taught you how to conduct a penetration test effectively and provide the findings to your client.

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