What is network penetration testing?

Equilibrium Security are CREST accredited Penetration Testers.

What is network penetration testing and what is its purpose?

In essence, a network penetration test is a simulated attack which is carried out by a qualified security professional. Network security penetration testing uses methods used by real-life hackers to test the security of your systems, security controls and processes. Using a variety of tools such as Burp SuiteMetasploit, Wireshark and Aircrack-ng, network security testing helps to uncover open-ports, network back-doors and security holes. Network penetration testing services help to identify security issues, before they can be exploited by online criminals. Network pentesting can be hugely beneficial for businesses of all sizes, as it helps to contextualise cyber-risks and show how protected you are when faced with a fully-fledged cyber-attack.

CREST is the not-for-profit industry body representing the technical information security industry. CREST provides internationally recognised accreditation for cyber security service providers and professional certification for individuals providing penetration testing, cyber incident response, threat intelligence services and now Secure Operations Centre services.

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What is the purpose of a network penetration test?

Network security and penetration testing services have many different purposes for each individual customer. Some businesses require network penetration tests in order to achieve security compliance such as PCI DSS, ISO 27001, GDPR and the DSP Toolkit, others may need proof of a recent network vulnerability test to be granted a government contract or get access to a government framework.

However, businesses should not be testing their network on a one off basis simply to achieve compliance or win a contract. Penetration testing and network defense is a crucial component to any effective Cyber Security strategy. No matter how many security solutions you have, or how strong you believe your defences are, it is impossible to know how robust your Cyber Security strategy is unless it is tested using ‘real-life’ attack scenarios. The purpose of using network penetration testing companies, is to help give your business the cold hard facts about whether your network is really impenetrable, or are there exploitable security holes? Although network CREST pen tests may uncover issues which take time and money to remediate, knowing and mitigating these security weakness is always preferrable to being blind to them… until you suffer an attack.

What is the difference between internal and external penetration tests?

Network pen testing can be performed on an internal and external basis. In other words, a certified penetration tester can conduct tests both inside and outside your network perimeter.

Internal network penetration testing assesses what an inside network attack could achieve. This could be any employee, partner or contractor who has access to corporate systems, applications and privileged data. Typically, an internal pentest will test all user machines, switches, servers, firewalls and phone systems. To explore all potential exploit paths, CREST certified testers often test from both an authenticated and non-authenticated perspective. This helps to assess what vulnerabilities can be exploited and what data can be accessed for users who have network login credentials and for those who don’t. The benefits of an internal network pen test is it helps you identify gaps in internal security processes, refine access controls and patch vulnerabilities discovered.

On the other hand, external network penetration testing tests how robust your perimeter security measures are against malicious attacks. External pen tests assess your internet facing systems to help identify hidden security weaknesses in firewalls, intrusion prevention controls, VPN, ports, servers, mail, FTP servers and more. External penetration testing services help to determine whether an unauthorised user with no system privileges can gain access to your network through your external perimeter. The benefits of external network pen tests is that is can help uncover  vulnerabilities, misconfigurations in firewalls and operating systems and find open ports which could expose you to network breaches.

CREST certified penetration testers UK

Here at Equilibrium, we are OSCP certified pen testers and CREST-certified penetration testers. The OSCP and CREST certification is a proven Cyber Security framework which demonstrates that we have up to date knowledge of the latest network pentest methodology, vulnerabilities and techniques used by real attackers.  In order to achieve the CREST certification you must undertake a series of thorough examinations which are assessed and approved by GCHQ and NCSC.

Our Penetration Testing Process

Step 1
Scoping phase

Before testing commences, our experts will take time to understand your pen testing requirement in more detail, define the testing scope and gather the necessary technical information and access required to carry out the test.

Step 2
Testing

Using a variety of pen testing tools our qualified penetration testers will manually assess your systems to identify security weaknesses/vulnerabilities which require patching and remediation.

Step 3
Analysis and exploitation

In this phase we will interpret the results, and (if permitted and approved) exploit any vulnerabilities discovered. This will determine whether a hacker could use the vulnerability as leverage to gain wider access to your systems. However, many customers prefer to patch and remediate, rather than risking the potential service disruption that exploitation could cause.

Step 4
Detailed Penetration Test report

Our experts will analyse the results and present the finding in a comprehensive penetration testing report. This will detail and categorise the vulnerabilities discovered ranked as either ‘Critical, High, Medium, or Low’, as well as outline instructions of how to remediate, patch and strengthen your defences.

Step 5
Re-test

After remediation, we can retest your systems to check that all patches have been applied and security holes have been mitigated.

Would you like to find out about network penetration costs?

Here at Equilibrium, we are a CREST accredited company and have been offering certified penetration testing services for a number of years. Our penetration testing price packages are straightforward, easy to follow and can be flexible to meet your budget and scope. If you would like to find out more about our network penetration testing costs, please register your details below or call us on 0121 663 0055.