Businesses are increasingly reliant on their networks to store and transmit sensitive data. As such, these networks must be tested regularly for vulnerabilities. Network penetration testing is the process of identifying and exploiting the security loopholes in a network. It is a critical step in safeguarding your company’s data. We’ll see what network penetration testing is and why it is important. We will also take a look at the steps involved in performing a penetration test, as well as some of the top service providers in this field.
What is network penetration testing?
Network penetration testing is the process of detecting flaws in your network by simulating attacks or stress-testing them. It can be performed internally or externally, depending on the organization’s needs.
Why is network pentesting important?
Some of the reasons are:
- To identify and fix security loopholes in a network
- To assess the security of your network against possible attacks
- To determine how well your security controls are working
- To improve your organisation’s security posture
Types of network penetration tests
Internal: An internal penetration test is performed from within the organization’s network boundaries. It involves testing the systems and networks that are used by employees and other authorized users.
External: An external penetration test is performed remotely, with no direct access to the network from within. It involves attacking the systems and networks that are used by customers and other outsiders.
Steps involved in network penetration testing
Reconnaissance: Here, testers gather all the information they can about the target network as possible. This includes identifying potential hosts and gathering information about the network topology and security controls.
Vulnerability Scanning: In the vulnerability scanning phase, the tester may use automated tools to find vulnerabilities in the target network. Some of these tools include Nessus, OpenVAS, Metasploit, Wireshark, Nmap, etc.
Exploitation: In the exploitation phase, the testers exploit any known or suspected vulnerabilities that were identified during previous steps. They may also try to probe for new ones using various techniques such as exploiting software bugs or misconfigurations.
Post-exploitation: In the post-exploitation phase, the tester leaves ways to access the network later. This is done by leaving malware, backdoors, changing passwords and settings, etc.
Reporting: In the reporting phase, the tester reports their findings to management so that they can be addressed appropriately.
Top 3 network penetration testing service providers
There are many companies offering network penetration testing services. Some of them are listed below:
1. Astra Security is one of the most popular penetration testing service providers. They offer a wide range of services including web application testing, wireless network testing, and internal/external network penetration tests. Using their tool, Astra Pentest you can achieve the following:
- test for 3000+ threats
- get remediation tips
- do a rescan at the end
- get live updates on threats being detected
- risk scores to prioritise fixing vulnerabilities
2. Offensive Security is a well-known name in the security industry. They offer a range of services including training, tools, and penetration testing. Apart from this, they are also the ones who developed the Kali Linux OS consisting of over 300 free tools for penetration testing and other cybersecurity endeavors.
3. Cisco offers a wide range of security solutions, including network penetration testing. They are well known for their network solutions and hardware components. As such, their tests work well with the devices they have developed. If your architecture consists of Cisco products then this might be a good option.
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How to choose a Network Penetration Testing Provider?
When selecting a network penetration testing provider, it is important to consider the following factors:
- The type of tests they offer
- The range of services they provide
- Their experience and expertise in network pentesting
- The tools and technologies they use
- Whether they are certified or not
- Whether they have a strong reputation or not
What Should a Good network pentesting service include?
A good network pentesting service should include the following:
- vulnerability scanning – This is the first step in a pentesting service. The tester will perform a vulnerability scan to identify any weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your network that could be exploited by a hacker.
- logging and monitoring – The tester should closely monitor your network traffic to understand how it is being used and how hackers could potentially exploit it.
- social engineering – This is an often overlooked aspect of pentesting but it can provide valuable insight into how your employees interact with customers and other third parties. It can also be used to test the effectiveness of any security training you may have given them in the past.
- targeted attacks – Attacks such as DoS and DDoS can be simulated to test the resilience of your network and infrastructure.
- report generation – A good pentesting service will provide a detailed report outlining all the findings from the assessment.
- network configuration assessment – The tester will review your network settings and configuration to identify any potential areas of weakness.
- suggestions and remediations – After the assessment is complete, you should expect some suggestions and recommendations for improving your security posture.
Network penetration tests are essential for any organization in this day and age. Many companies offer these services but only some of them deliver quality results that meet industry standards. When selecting a network pentesting provider, make sure you do your research and pick one that meets all the criteria above. You can also ask around for recommendations from other organizations who have used their services before or even contact them directly to see what they can offer you in terms of service level agreements (SLAs).