7 Types Of Penetration Testing

Feb 22, 2024 | Best Practices, Product Insights

Penetration testing, also known as a pen test, pentest, and type of application program interface testing (API testing), is a kind of simulated attack on a computer system. The goal of this kind of cybersecurity testing is to evaluate the overall security level of the system, find weaknesses, and comply with data privacy and security regulations.

This form of cybersecurity testing, also called website penetration testing or network pen testing, is essential for ensuring the protection of sensitive data and organizational information. By running a pen test, it’s possible to identify gaps in a system’s security features. Penetration testers may use phishing attacks or attempt to gain unauthorized access to identify security issues within mobile applications, your network infrastructure, your internal networks, multiple wireless networks, or wireless devices. They can also use cross-site scripting, or XSS, to inject malicious scripts into your system’s code.  

Regardless of the method used, pen testers can provide you with deep insight into how malicious hackers or cyberattacks could gain access to your systems and networks. There are many kinds of penetration testing you can try to ensure cyber security. Here are seven different types of penetration testing services your security team should consider.

1. External Penetration Testing

External penetration testing is a kind of security assessment that tests the perimeter systems (systems that can be accessed via the internet). The goal of this kind of test is to compromise the system and gain access, which would, in a real attack, lead to an attacker freely accessing sensitive content. External penetration tests are performed remotely, so the tester may not be on site. However, they can also work within an office or facility in some cases (and particularly if they have no access codes or controls). However, this kind of testing does require them to be on an outside network, so it’s rarely done from within the same facility unless a secondary network is available.

With external penetration testing, the pen tester will try to bypass your security controls to gain unauthorized access. They, as ethical hackers, will look for security vulnerabilities and report back about their findings after they are (or hopefully are not) able to access the system.

2. Internal Penetration Testing

Internal penetration testing looks at how someone with access to the network could exploit it. For example, someone working in an office might have authorization to access the network, and they could, in certain conditions, take advantage of that access. With this testing process, the goal is to identify what information could be exposed should the insider choose to do so. 

3. Blind Penetration Testing

A blind pen test is designed to simulate a real cyber attack by giving the tester limited data beforehand. For example, your company may only provide your URL to the pen tester. Then, the tester will attempt to gain access from that point. This is an advanced form of testing that aims to simulate a real-world environment. However, the tester does still have some guidance, such as the URL or specific company’s name. With blind testing, the security team at your organization will know the attack is taking place, and all (internal) hands will be on deck. 

4. Double-Blind Penetration Testing

Double-blind penetration testing is even more informative because it provides as little information as possible to the tester. In addition to that, the test is kept completely secret (or as much as it can be) so no one in the office or working on the network is aware that the test will take place. 

Since no one will know the test is going to take place, this is the perfect opportunity to test internal security monitoring. It will help determine if anyone would notice the initial stages of a cyberattack and, if no one, who may be responsible for shoring up security in the future. 

5. Targeted Testing or ‘White Box’ Testing

A kind of targeted testing called white-box testing allows the tester to have some additional details before they start their attack. They may get information such as:

  • IP addresses
  • Internal protocols
  • Source codes
  • Network schematics

With that information, most ethical hackers will have a straightforward, and even easy, time getting into the system, which can help businesses identify what they need to do to improve their security once the hacker is already inside the network.

6. Wireless Penetration Testing

Wireless security is an important part of any network, yet it’s overlooked by many organizations. Wireless penetration attempts to discover security holes within these wireless routes.  But, wireless penetration testing doesn’t just look at Wi-Fi. It also looks at how an attacker could gain access through:

  • Z-wave technology
  • Software-defined radio
  • Zigbee technology
  • RFID

During a wireless penetration test, the attacker will identify weaknesses against Wi-Fi (or wireless attacks) involving desktops, laptops, MacOS, iOS, Android, and others. 

7. Cloud Penetration Testing

Discovering vulnerabilities within the cloud can help prevent your organization from losing important data to hackers after that data has been uploaded to your preferred cloud environment. Cloud pen testing is similar to penetration testing but is only performed on cloud-native systems. 

Through cloud penetration testing, you will be able to identify vulnerabilities as well as the potential impact of your data being exposed by an attacker. Additionally, the pen tester should be able to provide guidance on how to fix holes in your security to help mitigate the future risk of attacks and data exposure. 

Improve Your Security Posture Today

When you work with sensitive data, there’s nothing worse than discovering that your systems have been breached. Hackers and attackers with the wrong intentions can do significant damage to your organization by stealing or exposing data. With the right penetration tests, though, you can take measures to stop them in their tracks and avoid unauthorized access.

It’s time to improve your security posture, and our security professionals at Ranorex can help with automated security testing, positive and negative testing, black- and white-box testing, and more. Ranorex Studio provides your testing teams with everything they need to determine problems with cybersecurity to better protect your organization’s data. To learn more, contact our team today.



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