What is Penetration Testing (Pentesting)?


Over the past few years, cyber threats have increased across the globe. Organizations are operating in constant fear of being targeted and losing important data. Recently, the social networking giant Twitter was targeted, with high-profile Twitter accounts hijacked to distribute cryptocurrency scams. In the light of major companies and influential people being targeted, organizations are in the midst of recruiting cybersecurity experts in the know-how of protection procedures, such as the penetration testing process, to detect vulnerabilities and suggest mitigating strategies. Let us discuss the penetration testing framework along with the penetration testing meaning. 

  1. What is Penetration Testing?
  2. What are the Types of Pen Tests?
  3. How is Penetration Testing Done?
  4. Why do we do Penetration Testing?

1. What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration Testing or Pen Testing is a security activity where a cybersecurity specialist tries to discover and manipulate bugs in a computer system. The aim of this simulated attack is to find any weak points in the defences of the device that could be exploited by the attackers.

Let us take a penetration testing example of a bank hiring someone to acts as a burglar to attempt to get into their building and to get entry to the vault. If the ‘burglar’ succeeds and reaches the bank or the vault, the bank can find out their weakness and make their security measures strong.

Pen Test can be carried out by many ethical hackers who are qualified and have done advanced graduate developers with a pen test qualification. It is always advised to get someone with no information on how the system is guaranteed for a pen test, so the engineers who designed the system will be able to reveal blind spots. 

How to do penetration testing when a malicious code occurs? Some standard vulnerabilities discovered in an application may be detected through a penetration testing tool. Pentest tools search code to find out suspected safety breaches. Through analyzing the encryption methods and discovering hard-coded values such as username and password, pentest software will check security vulnerabilities in the device.

2. What are the Types of Pen Tests?

There are five different types of Penetration Testing which will make you understand how to perform penetration testing:

A) Open-box pen test

In an open-box test, certain details would be given to the hacker in advance about the safety information of the target organization.

B) Closed-box pen test

In this penetration testing methods, no background information is provided to the hacker other than the name of the target organization.

C) Covered pen test

This is a pen testing methodology where absolutely no one in the business understands that the pen test is taking place, even IT and security professionals who will respond to the threat. In the case of undercover experiments, it is highly important for hackers to have the scope and other specifics of the test written in advance in order to prevent any issues with law enforcement.

D) External Pen Test

In an external test, an ethical hacker competes with the company’s external-facing infrastructure, such as its website and external network servers. In certain situations, the hacker will not even be allowed to enter the business premises. This may include carrying out an assault from a distant area or executing a test from a nearby truck or van.

E) Internal Pen Test

In an internal penetration testing methodology, an ethical hacker conducts a test on the company’s internal network. This kind of test is helpful in assessing how much harm a disgruntled employee can do from behind the company firewall.

3. How is Penetration Testing Done?

The phases of penetration testing are divided into five stages. Below is the process: 

A) Planning 

The first stage includes the following:

Defining the nature and aims of the evaluation, including the structures to be discussed and the test approaches to be used.

Gather intelligence such as network and domain names, mail server which will help understand how the aim operates and the possible vulnerabilities.

B) Scanning

The next step is to consider how the target program can react to a number of intrusion attempts. This is normally done using:

Static analysis – Analyze the code of the program to estimate how it performs when operating. These tools will search the code in its entirety in a single pass.

Dynamic Analysis – Inspecting the code of the program in a running environment. This is a more realistic method of screening, as it offers a real-time perspective of the output of the program.

C) Gaining access

This stage uses web application penetration testing attacks, such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection, and backdoors, to expose the vulnerabilities of the goal. Testers then attempt to manipulate these vulnerabilities, usually by scaling rights, stealing records, intercepting traffic, etc to learn the harm they may do.

D) Maintaining access

The purpose of this stage is to see how the vulnerability can be used to achieve a permanent presence in the exploited system to obtain in-depth access. The intention is to minimise sophisticated persistent threats, which frequently linger in the environment for months to come in order to extract the most important data from an enterprise.

E) Analysis

The penetration testing steps are then assembled into a comprehensive report:

  • Specific vulnerabilities that have been exploited
  • Sensitive data that has been obtained
  • The period of time the pen tester was allowed to stay undetected throughout the method.

Thus, penetration testing definition is to evaluate information by security professionals to help configure WAF business configurations and other device security solutions to fix bugs and defend against future attacks.

4. Why do we do Penetration Testing?

The penetration testing techniques confirm that the device can protect its systems and networks from any external attack. The penetration testing requirements are as follows:

  • It helps to check the context that an attacker may use to break the integrity of the device.
  • It preserves the data and avoids any intrusion by a black hat hacker.
  • It lets testers get to know the domain field that can be attacked during an attack.
  • The findings of the penetration test help to guide investment decisions to strengthen current safety requirements.


Testers must behave like a real hacker to verify the app or device and confirm that a code is written safely. If there is a well-implemented security strategy, a penetration test is successful. The importance of penetration testing is to secure important information and data from outsiders like hackers. This is a penetration testing basics guide for beginners. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.


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