Penetration Testing: Proactive Defense for your Business

Penetration testing is a process of determining if your network or business is secure or susceptible to unauthorized access by third parties. There are many different way of getting access to a network or business, including external attacks over the internet, social hacking and physical access. The article explains in more details these types of attacks, and how you can be best informed of your potential vulnerability to them, by employing penetration testing.

External penetration testing involves the use of specific designed software to scan the external IP address(s) of a network to probe for open ports. Through these ports, depending on the protocol they use, exploits can be targetted to gain access. For example, if port 23 was found to be open, then it could be assumed that this would be for a router, and the username and password could be brute forced via telnet. If port SSL port 443 was found to be open, then the Poodle exploit could be potentially used to execute remote code.

Social hacking forms part of the process of penetration testing. Your system is only secure if your staff are adequately trained with simple security procedures, such as locking their PC when leaving and never giving out a password to anybody – even a system administrator. Advanced social hacking techniques are usually creative and rely on confidence of the attacker to bluff their way into unauthorized access.

This leads on the physical access hacking. By using a combination of Social hacking and physical access, an attacker may be able to gain physical access to a machine and compromise it with something as small as a custom created USB stick. A temporarily unattended reception PC, or an unattended unlocked computer can be compromised in seconds using available technology.

A full penetration test checks your vulnerability to all of these attacks and provides important information to help keep you secure. The result can include simple things like account lockout polices, preventing physical access to machines in public places and most importantly – the patching of any software vulnerabilities.

Article by Steven Ward from CTRL IT – www.ctrlit.com.au

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