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Penetration Testing – Detecting vulnerabilities


Penetration testing is a type of security testing that can be used to check or test the insecure areas of the software or your application. Its main aim is to find all the vulnerabilities on a system. Vulnerabilities can be introduced during implementation phase or when the software is developed. It is also known as pen test. It is useful from small businesses to large financial sectors. Penetration testing is a preventive measure against hacking. Even if your system is already hacked, it can be useful for determining threats and future hacking can be avoided.
With cyber attacks becoming the norm, it is more important than ever before to undertake regular vulnerability scans and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and ensure on a regular basis that the cyber controls are working. looks at vulnerabilities and will try and exploit them. The testing is often stopped when the objective is achieved, i.e. when an access to a network has been gained – this means there can be other exploitable vulnerabilities not tested.”
A penetration test doesn’t stop at simply uncovering vulnerabilities: it goes the next step to actively exploit those vulnerabilities in order to prove (or disprove) real-world attack vectors against an organization’s IT assets, data, humans, and/or physical security.


There are 3 types of penetration hacking:

  • Black box testing- In black box penetration testing, tester has no knowledge about the systems to be tested. His work is to collect information about the system only.
  • White box testing– In a white-box penetration testing, the tester is usually provided with a complete information about the network or systems to be tested including the IP address, source code, OS details, etc. It can be considered an attack by any of the employees who have access to the systems.
  • Grey box testing- In a grey box penetration testing, tester is provided with partial knowledge of the systems. It can be considered as an attack by an external hacker who had gained illegitimate access to an organization’s network.


Planning phase: Scope and strategy of testing us to be determined and security policies that exists are used for defining the scope.

Discovery phase: In this phase, information such as system data, passwords and username are collected. This phase is also known as fingerprinting. It also checks for vulnerabilities.

Attack Phase: It find exploits for various vulnerabilities. You need necessary security Privileges to exploit the system.

Reporting Phase: As the name suggests, it contains detailed findings. It also tells about the risks of vulnerabilities and their impact on business.

The prime task in penetration testing is to gather system information. There are two ways to gather information –

  • ‘One to one’ or ‘one to many’ model with respect to host: A tester performs techniques in a linear way against either one target host or a logical grouping of target hosts (e.g. a subnet).
  • ‘Many to one’ or ‘many to many’ model: The tester utilizes multiple hosts to execute information gathering techniques in a random, rate-limited, and in non-linear.

What is the Value of a Penetration Test?

Here are a few of the reasons organizations invest in penetration testing:
• Determining the feasibility of a particular set of attack vectors. Hacking tools have grown in popularity and a catalogue of exploitable vulnerabilities is readily available online. Such tools permit even novice hackers to gain access to complex exploits for opportunistic attacks.
• Identifying higher-risk vulnerabilities that result from a combination of lower-risk vulnerabilities exploited in a particular sequence.Identifying vulnerabilities that may be difficult or impossible to detect with automated network or application vulnerability scanning software.
• Assessing the magnitude of potential business and operational impacts of successful attacks.Testing the ability of network defenders to successfully detect and respond to the attacks.
• Providing evidence to support increased investments in security personnel and technology to C-level management, investors, and customers.
• Post security incident, an organization needs to determine the vectors that were used to gain access to a compromised system (or entire network). Combined with forensic analysis, a penetration test is often used to re-create the attack chain, or else to validate that new security controls put in place will thwart a similar attack in the future.
Penetration testers get to view security in an actual operational context, not merely on document or in discussions. Pen testers can concentrate on the most likely exploitable issues and see if an actual attacker could take advantage of them. With a much better feel for actual risks, management personnel can make better decisions about where to allocate security resources to fix problems. Furthermore, because the goal of many penetration tests and exercises is actual compromise of target machines, penetration tests often go deeper thank most audits.

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