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Penetration Testing

What is Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking, is a controlled and proactive effort to assess the security of an IT infrastructure by safely trying to exploit system vulnerabilities, including OS, service and application flaws, improper configurations, and even risky end-user behaviour. Such assessments are also useful in validating the efficacy of defensive mechanisms, as well as end-users’ adherence to security policies.

Penetration tests are typically performed using manual and automated technologies to systematically compromise servers, endpoints, web applications, wireless networks, network devices, mobile devices and other potential points of exposure. After vulnerabilities have been successfully exploited on a particular system, testers may attempt to use the compromised system to launch subsequent exploits at further internal resources, specifically by trying to incrementally achieve higher levels of security clearance and deeper access to electronic assets and information via privilege escalation.

What are the different types of Penetration Tests

Penetration tests come in various forms, each designed to address specific aspects of security. The main types of penetration tests include:

  • Network Services Testing (Internal and External Testing): Scrutinises the security features of network protocols and services to identify weaknesses like unpatched systems, weak encryption, and open ports that could allow unauthorised access or data interception.
  • Web Application Testing: Examines web applications for vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other OWASP Top 10 security risks that could compromise data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Client-side Testing: This focuses on the security of desktop applications, evaluating risks like buffer overflows, code injection, and local file inclusion that could be exploited via user interaction or manipulated inputs.
  • Wireless Security Testing: Assesses the configuration and encryption strength of wireless devices and networks, searching for vulnerabilities like weak passwords, outdated protocols, and rogue access points that could allow unauthorised network access.
  • Physical Security Testing: Evaluates the effectiveness of physical barriers and controls, such as surveillance, access control mechanisms, and environmental design, to prevent unauthorised access to facilities, systems or data.
  • Cloud Security Testing: Probes the security of cloud-based systems, checking for misconfigurations, improper access controls, and insufficient isolation of resources that could lead to data breaches or compromised services.
  • Mobile Application Testing: This type of test scrutinises mobile applications for issues in the code, insecure data storage, weak server-side controls, and insecure communication, as well as vulnerabilities specific to mobile operating systems that could be exploited to gain unauthorised access or extract sensitive data.
  • API Security Testing: Focuses on the integrity and security practices of APIs, assessing aspects like authentication, authorisation, encryption, and error handling to ensure that the APIs do not expose the system to unauthorised access or data leakage.

What are the benefits to conducting Penetration Tests

Conducting controlled penetration tests against your applications and infrastructure has several benefits, which include:

  • Identifying and Addressing Vulnerabilities: Penetration testing helps identify weaknesses, misconfigurations, and security controls susceptible to exploitation, enabling proactive mitigation to reduce the risk of security breaches and data compromises.
  • Validation and Compliance: Penetration testing validates the effectiveness of existing security measures, aids in compliance with regulations and standards (e.g., GDPR, PCI DSS), and provides assurance to clients and stakeholders that security measures are robust and effective.
  • Risk Prioritization and Resource Allocation: Understanding which vulnerabilities pose the greatest risk allows for prioritization and effective allocation of resources, ensuring critical issues are addressed first and enhancing overall cybersecurity posture.
  • Continuous Improvement and Adaptation: Regular penetration testing fosters a cycle of continuous improvement in cybersecurity measures, ensuring that security measures remain effective against evolving threats and technological advancements.

Our service and approach

Our comprehensive penetration testing services encompass a range of targets including web applications, APIs, network infrastructures, mobile platforms, wireless systems, and cloud environments. Our team of seasoned professionals is adept at identifying and exploiting security vulnerabilities to demonstrate the potential impact to your organisation.

We employ a methodical approach to penetration testing that encompasses several key phases:

  • Reconnaissance: Before testing begins, we perform thorough reconnaissance to gather information about the target systems. This phase may involve collecting public domain data, analysing application behaviour, and identifying the services and resources in use.
  • Testing: Utilising a combination of automated and manual testing techniques, our team probes for known and potential vulnerabilities within the scope of your infrastructure. We assess against a broad spectrum of security threats, including but not limited to insecure configurations, software flaws, and operational weaknesses.
  • Exploitation: Any discovered vulnerabilities are then carefully exploited to understand the true risk they pose. This phase demonstrates how an attacker could potentially breach systems or gain unauthorised access to sensitive data.
  • Post-Exploitation: Following successful exploitation, we explore the compromised system to understand the depth of the potential impact, including data access, privilege escalation, and persistence.
  • Reporting and Remediation: At the conclusion of testing, we compile a detailed report that outlines discovered vulnerabilities, the exploitation process, and the possible consequences of each weakness. We also provide strategic recommendations for remediation to help improve your security posture and mitigate risks.

Throughout our engagement, we prioritise the safety of your systems and data, ensuring that our testing mimics the tactics of real-world attackers while maintaining the integrity and availability of your environment. Our goal is to provide you with the insights needed to fortify your defences and protect your organisation against emerging cyber threats.

What to expect

Our CREST-accredited penetration testing consultants will produce a final report which includes an executive summary, remediation advice and business impact assessment. The outcome of the penetration test will provide accurate insights into areas of improvement to help close the gaps in your cybersecurity controls.

Secora Consulting will also conduct a ‘wash-out’ meeting once the report is issued. In this session, our team will thoroughly discuss the findings and remediation guidance with your team addressing any questions you may have.

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Postal address

The BASE Enterprise Centre

Railway Road


Co. Donegal


F93 VAK6

Phone number
IE: +353 74 970 7876 | UK: +44 20 4538 2818

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