The Stages of Penetration Testing

The Stages of Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is crucial when strenthening your security on both the hardware and software levels. Identifying security holes and vulnerabilities will allow you to rectify these issues before someone else has the ability to exploit them.

Testing can occur in either a 5-stage or 7-stage process, and as a team that offers cybersecurity in Miami, we recommend the more thorough and robust process listed below.

7 Stages of Penetration Testing

1. Pre-engagement and Information Gathering

Before any of the subsequent steps can be executed, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible about the system in question. Teams will spend time outlining:

  • Team expectations
  • Client goals
  • Testing

Security experts will use this stage to understand your organization, risks and potential areas where security may be improved.

2. Reconnaissance and Research

Once all of the preliminary data is captured from your team, it’s time to begin researching your existing hardware and software to learn about current and past threats. A wealth of information about security issues exists and is publicly available, and our team will work to identify key data relevant to your current setup.

Additional steps may be taken during the reconnaissance phase, such as:

  • Scraping emails to use for phishing attacks
  • PR documents for information
  • WHOIS lookups to learn about your network
  • Internal footprinting
  • Much more

3. Scan and Discovery

The information gathered in the last phase leads directly into the scanning phase, where testing will begin gathering more information on your:

  • Network
  • Open ports
  • Operating systems
  • Services

Deeper insight into your system allows for an in-depth vulnerability analysis to take place.

4. Vulnerability Analysis

All of the data gathered up until this point will be used in the vulnerability assessment. During this phase, the team will begin identifying potential weaknesses that an attack will target to gain access to your system.

During the test, our team will look for multiple avenues to penetrate your system and will identify which vulnerabilities are most serious.

5. Exploitation

Exploitation is an exciting phase of penetration testing because it allows cybersecurity experts to use the information in the vulnerability analysis to conduct their own attacks. These ethical hackers will use a variety of techniques to try and exploit vulnerabilities, such as:

  • Reverse engineering
  • Manual testing
  • Programmatic testing

The goal of this phase is to validate attacks and utilize all of the data possible to try and access your network. Detailed documentation will be created simultaneously at this time so that these attacks can be replicated, reported and even corrected in the future. 

6. Reporting

Reports are an integral stage in the testing process because they alert business owners and leaders of the risks found and any exploits that were successful during the exploitation phase. A final report offers insights into what the cybersecurity expert recommends that you do to strengthen your network’s security.

7. Correction

The final step is strengthening your organization’s security based on the assessment. Correction may include multi-step processes to harden security, internal guidelines to follow and even employee training.

If you want to begin penetration testing, our team of cybersecurity experts can help.