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Penetration testing uncovers weaknesses in IT systems, offering insight into how these vulnerabilities can be exploited by potential attackers.

Testy penetracyjne odkrywają słabości w systemach IT

Penetration tests are controlled attacks that simulate real-world cyber threats to verify that IT systems can resist them. This article will immerse you in the world of ethical hacking, explaining how organizations are using these methods to increase their resilience to cyber attacks and strengthen the overall security of the organization.

Key Information

  • Conducted by cyber security experts, penetration tests (pen tests) aim to identify and expose vulnerabilities in computer systems, simulating controlled attacks to assess hackability and strengthen IT security.
  • Penetration tests include various types, including Black Box, White Box, and Grey Box tests, as well as a variety of methodologies, such as OWASP and NIST, that guide testers in conducting effective procedures to assess the security of applications and network infrastructure.
  • Penetration tests are performed by qualified personnel, and are divided into stages, such as planning and preparation, information gathering, the attack phase, and analysis of the results. Conducting them on a regular basis is a key part of an enterprise’s system security strategy, with the goal of continually protecting against evolving cyber threats.
  • In addition, certifications in cybersecurity are key to advancing a career in this industry. The most respected certifications are:
    • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).
    • Offensive Security Wireless Professional (OSWP).
    • Offensive Security Experienced Penetration Tester (OSEP).
    • Offensive Security Web Assessor (OSWA).
    • Offensive Security Web Expert (OSWE).
    • Offensive Security Exploit Developer (OSED).
    • Burp Suite Certified Practitioner (BSCP).
    • Certified Penetration Testing Specialist (HTB CPTS).
  • Possession of one or more of these certifications demonstrates a high level of knowledge and skill in penetration testing and cybersecurity, which is invaluable for companies seeking effective protection against cyber threats.

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing or ethical hacking

Penetration tests, also known as pentests, are controlled attempts to attack IT systems, any kind of web application, mobile application or network to find their weaknesses before hackers do.

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing or ethical hacking, is a cybersecurity technique used to identify and expose weaknesses in a security posture, misconfiguration issues, identify potential and unauthorized access to a system, test access permissions directly affecting its security. These are controlled attacks on computer systems to assess their vulnerability. This isn’t just hacking – it’s simulated hacking attacks that help you understand what your system’s weaknesses are and how to fix them.

The main goal in penetration testing is to identify security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. This knowledge allows organizations to secure their systems against real attacks, improving their security levels.

During the penetration tests, penetration experts. Cyber security officers are trying to find and exploit weaknesses in the computer system. It’s like playing chess with hackers – testers try to think like attackers and present possible moves they can make to identify and counter potential threats.

The Penetration Tests conducted are not a one-time activity. This is a process that is repeated regularly to ensure that new systems, applications and technologies are properly secured. With penetration testing, organizations can evaluate the effectiveness of their security controls and procedures by simulating realistic attack scenarios, enabling a better understanding of potential threats. So it’s worth running a penetration test to see if our security is up to par.

Purpose of penetration testing

The purpose of the penetration test is to identify where there are weaknesses in the system’s defenses that attackers may try to access. This allows organizations to assess the strength of their current security controls and identify the most vulnerable channels in their systems.

Penetration testing is a key component of IT security strategies. By identifying weaknesses in systems and supporting compliance with data privacy regulations, the tests help improve overall security and help organizations identify and fix security gaps against potential hacking attacks.

Methodologies and types of penetration tests

Penetration testing methodologies define the standards and procedures that testers must follow when conducting tests. This allows them to ensure that all tests are conducted in a consistent and efficient manner. There are various methodologies that focus on different aspects of penetration testing, including the scope of penetration testing, such as:

It is equally important to understand the different types of penetration test. Depending on the level of information the testers have about the security of the system, they may conduct Black Box pentest, White Box pentest or Grey Box pentest. Each of these tests has its own unique advantages and is better suited to specific situations.

Black Box, White Box and Grey Box Pentest

The Black Box Pentest, White Box Pentest and Grey Box Pentest are different testing approaches that differ in the level of testers’ knowledge of the inner workings of the system and access to information, the level of data obtained from the customer about the area being tested. In Black Box pentest, testers are not given any knowledge of the system’s internal structure or internal attack capabilities. They simulate an external attack, focusing on identifying and exploiting security vulnerabilities that are visible from the outside.

At White Box pentest, penetration testers have full access to all information, including source code, configuration and documentation. This allows for in-depth security analysis and identification of vulnerabilities and bugs in the code.

The Grey Box Test, on the other hand, is a compromise approach that provides testers with partial information about the system.

Network infrastructure tests

IT security testing, focusing on the network layer and the area of mobile and web applications, are key elements of security testing. These tests focus on identifying threats not only in networks, but also in web and mobile applications. During these tests, experts on the Cyber security officers aim to find and exploit any security vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorized access.

Application security testing

Application security testing covers all types of applications, both mobile and web, and includes both partial automatic scanning, but especially manual analysis of potential vulnerabilities by specialists in network and web application security. Web application testing focuses on discovering a variety of vulnerabilities, using tools such as JMeter, Postman and Cypress as an integral part of security operations.

Penetration testing process

Penetration testing process

The penetration testing process is divided into several key stages, including:

  1. Recognition
  2. Scanning for elements that may be weaknesses
  3. Obtaining and maintaining access
  4. Achieving the set goals of the controlled attack simulation

Each of these phases is designed to bring testers closer to achieving the goals of testing, i.e. Identification and elimination of system weaknesses. It is important to conduct all phases of the test correctly, as the effectiveness of penetration testing largely depends on this. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle – each piece must fit into the whole to create a complete picture.

Planning and preparation

Planning and preparation are key elements of a penetration test. It is necessary to obtain written approval for the test before proceeding, even if it is carried out internally by company personnel.

In addition, both parties should sign a statement of intent that defines the scope of the assignment and what the tester can and cannot do during the vulnerability assessment. This is very important because penetration testing regulations vary from country to country, so it’s important to stay abreast of local laws and sign contracts with these regulations in mind.

Information gathering phase

The information gathering phase is the stage that prepares the ground as an attempt to gain unauthorized access, where testers gather information about the system that can help identify potential points of attack. It’s a bit like playing detective – testers have to investigate everything that could help them better understand the system and find a way to break it.

It seems simple, but in fact it is one of the most important steps in a penetration test. Without adequate information, testers may overlook key security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. Therefore, it is important to devote sufficient time to this phase of the process.

Attack simulation phase

The attack phase is the stage where testers subject the tested area to a simulated external attack to identify security vulnerabilities in the network under test here by testing desktop applications for unauthorized access. It’s like a simulation of a real battle – testers try to break through the system’s defenses using various techniques, and the system tries to stop them.

One of the unique aspects of a penetration test is that testers can use a variety of attack techniques, including exploiting for known vulnerabilities and exploits, given the prospects of a potential intruder. This allows them to identify and possibly exploit security vulnerabilities.

Performance analysis and reporting

The attack simulation is followed by an analysis of the results, focusing on the topic of the area under study. Testers must carefully analyze everything they discover during the test to understand what the system’s weaknesses are in the process of evaluating the effectiveness of the security measures in place and how they can be exploited by hackers.

All discovered vulnerabilities are then documented in a report, which also includes recommendations for fixing them. This is extremely important because it allows organizations to take action to fix these vulnerabilities and theme the investigated area of the system against future attacks.

Tools used in penetration testing

Tools used in penetration testing

In modern penetration testing approaches, it is crucial to use both commercial and internally developed tools that expand the range of available attack methods under the type of test. Despite access to high-tech tools, it should not be forgotten that ultimately it is the experience and expertise of testers that determine the effectiveness of testing. Therefore, manual testing, which allows for informed choice of attack method and adaptation of the type of test to the specifics of the system, is extremely valuable.

To perform penetration testing at the highest level, it is essential to have tools that allow a flexible approach to the choice of attack method. By using both commercial tools and proprietary solutions, security testing can be done in a comprehensive manner. Such tools offer a wide range of functions, from network recognition and enumeration to port scanning and password cracking, which allows the effective exploitation of vulnerabilities found. However, the appropriate choice of attack method and type of test, tailored to the system under test, requires not only the right tools, but above all the knowledge and experience of testers.

Challenges and limitations of penetration testing

Penetration testing, despite its effectiveness, is not without its challenges and limitations. For example, during testing, certain methods are often omitted to avoid system failures or downtime. In a real attack, a hacker would have no such limitations.

Another challenge is the pentester’s skill set. Different skills are required, and expertise in one area may not translate to another. Continuing education in response to evolving technology is required.

Finally, penetration testing can generate legal issues related to accessibility, confidentiality and data integrity, which requires legal compliance measures before testing.

Frequency and importance of regular penetration testing

Penetration testing is not just a one-time activity, but should be conducted regularly as part of a comprehensive strategy to improve a company’s security. Conducting tests at least once a year allows organizations to continuously evaluate their security features and adapt them to changing threats.

Penetration test reports provide valuable information that can help company managements make decisions about the organization’s security investments. This allows organizations to better protect their systems and data, which translates into greater customer trust and a better brand reputation.

It is also important to consider that regulations such as NIS-2, DORA and ISO 27001 standards clearly delineate in their requirements the need for regular testing of systems and networks to ensure continuous protection against threats. These regulations underscore how critical it is to maintain information security by systematically identifying and patching security vulnerabilities through regular penetration testing, as a basis for maintaining a high level of security within an organization.

The role of penetration testing in IT security strategy

Penetration testing, including infrastructure penetration testing, is a key component of a company’s cyber security strategy. They allow organizations to assess the effectiveness of their security measures and adapt them to changing threats.

The strategy is not only focused on technology, but also on people. Therefore, it is important for organizations to train their employees and conduct regular security audits, including penetration testing.

When used properly, a penetration test can help a company stand out in the market. Here are some of the benefits that can result from conducting such tests:

  • Demonstrate a responsible attitude towards data protection
  • They are actively working to improve their security
  • Gain customers’ trust
  • Gain competitive advantage


In conclusion, penetration testing is a key component of any company’s cyber security strategy. They help identify and fix security vulnerabilities by simulating attacks that real hackers can carry out. Conducting regular penetration tests allows companies to continuously evaluate their security measures and adapt them to changing threats. Although penetration testing comes with some challenges and limitations, its benefits far outweigh these difficulties. Therefore, every company should include them in its network and application security audit strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Pentester?

A pentester, in other words, a penetration tester, is an expert in his field whose main task is to identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s information systems. It relies heavily on simulating hacking attacks, giving the pentester the ability to assess how easily a potential attacker could gain unauthorized access to the system. In order to perform his duties effectively, a pentester should have both extensive theoretical knowledge and practical skills in security testing, programming and knowledge of computer systems and networks.

The best pentester is someone with extensive experience and certifications, such as OSCP, OSWP, OSEP, OSWA, OSWE, OSED, BSCP, and HTB CPTS, which demonstrates his advanced knowledge and skills in securing systems from threats.

What does penetration testing consist of?

Penetration testing involves controlled attempts to attack IT systems in order to find weaknesses, vulnerabilities that could be exploited by potential criminals.

What are the goals of penetration testing?

The purpose of penetration testing is to identify security vulnerabilities and assess the strength of an organization’s current security controls. They can identify the most vulnerable channels in the systems.

What are the types of penetration tests?

Types of penetration tests include Black Box (without knowledge of the system), White Box (with full knowledge of the system) and Grey Box (with partial knowledge of the system). Each has its own specific benefits tailored to the scope of penetration testing, tailored to different IT security needs and expectations.

What does the Grey Box penetration test consist of?

A grey box penetration test involves giving the team performing the audit partial information or access to a specific system or network to perform penetration testing.

What does the Black Box penetration test consist of?

Black Box penetration testing involves testing from the perspective of a potential intruder, who has no additional information beyond that which is public, to reflect the actual knowledge of a potential attacker. As a result, the testing team tries to use only its own knowledge and experience in breaking security.

How much do penetration tests cost?

The price can range from 20K to 200K, which depends on several key factors, such as the scope of the test, its complexity, the tools used, the time required, and the specialization and experience of the team conducting the test.


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