Pentest, a condensed term for penetration testing, denotes a procedure in the realm of cybersecurity wherein professionals deliberately seek to breach the security defenses of a digital system, network, or web-based application. A pentest is executed to detect and address security gaps that ill-intentioned hackers could use as entry points.
- Network pentesting: Involves testing the network for vulnerabilities that could allow unauthorized access or actions.
- Application pentesting: Tests a specific application for security flaws that could compromise user data or system integrity.
- Physical pentesting: Checks physical security measures like locks, alarms, and cameras to see if they can be bypassed.
Advantages and disadvantages of pentests
- Identifying vulnerabilities: Pentests can reveal system weaknesses before malicious hackers find them.
- Compliance: Many regulations and standards require regular pentesting, such as PCI DSS, for companies handling credit card data.
- Cost: Comprehensive pentests, particularly for large or complex systems, can be expensive.
- Disruption: Despite precautions, pentests can occasionally cause system disruptions or downtime.
Tips for conducting pentests
- Define the scope: Clearly outline what systems will be tested to avoid unnecessary disruptions.
- Ensure it’s legal: Always get written permission from the system owner before conducting a pentest.
- Use a VPN: Using a VPN can add an extra layer of security when conducting pentests, mainly when testing remote systems.