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Network Penetration Testing for Beginners

Read, study, practice as much as possible, and repeat. That is the secret to penetration testing. The most crucial piece of advise here is to seek for work as soon as possible since nothing compares to the kind of learning you can acquire on the job.

Let’s run through a few instances before moving on to job-specific advice.

If you already have some security experience, start by reading a few highly rated books on Amazon with the phrase “Pentesting” in the title. Then enroll in Offensive Security’s lab and earn the OSCP certification, which is now the most regarded entry-level certification for penetration testers. Consume as much material as you can, but don’t let yourself become lost.

The top pentesters put their expertise to use and get their hands dirty.

 

If you have no security knowledge but work in other IT sectors, it is recommended that you become an expert in another subject before bringing security principles to your field of specialization. That approach has worked for many brilliant people in the sector I know. If you are a Java programmer, learn how to test Java apps. If you’re an IT OPS engineer implementing services in the cloud (AWS/GCP/Azure), you should learn about potential security concerns and how to pentest them. Learning will be lot easier if you have the necessary background.

 

If you have never worked in IT but want to work in security, this one is complex and difficult since general security is not an entry-level position. Too many people desire to work in security without any prior IT knowledge, which makes them ineffective professionals since many of their decisions are myopic and ignore business context. You can get excited reading pentesting and bug bounty sites, but if you’re just copying random payloads without a thorough grasp of the subject, you’re not doing anything for your organization. So, immerse yourself in everything you learn and you’ll be a ‘expert’ in a matter of years.

 

Now let’s look at some of your possibilities if you’re entirely new to the field.

Web/Mobile App Pentester – Learn to code. It is not required, but it is desirable, and this is what often distinguishes expert wannabes from actual professionals. Learn how software stacks function to have a better understanding of web programming languages like Java, PHP, and their associated frameworks. To break something and better, resilience is required, followed by an understanding of how everything works. It doesn’t mean you have to be a guru software engineer, but you can’t go wrong with the fundamentals.

Once you have completed all of the OWASP materials, you will know what to do next.

 

Network/Desktop Applications Pentester – construct a local lab of a network with several components.

Deploy some services, such as the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack, and then look into how to protect each of these components. While developing, research what difficulties may occur during configuration and subsequent maintenance so that you know what concerns to avoid and how to test them in the future in other settings where sysadmins may not have had the time, desire, or expertise to protect their instances as well as you could.
Navigate to the PTES (Penetration Testing Execution Standard) Technical Guidelines to understand how penetration testers and hackers may possibly attack your network, then reverse engineer their attack techniques and design countermeasures to render them ineffective.

 

Specialized Pentester – Focus on one technology and go as deep as possible. So, rather of being a Web App Pentester, become a Node.JS Security Expert. Become a specialist rather than a generalist, and you’ll decrease your learning time in half or more. Find anything you’re interested in, study more about it, and become enthusiastic about the area; put in a few solid years of effort, and you’ll have whatever you desire. (Okay, not everything you desire.)

Red Teamer – All of the suggestions listed above apply, including social engineering and physical security threats. You may not have the technical aptitude to be a brilliant online pentester, but if you are blessed with empathy and social skills, you can still accomplish a lot!

 

There are hundreds of blogs where individuals have recorded their journeys, and I encourage that you look at real-world instances of people who have transitioned into a pentesting job. Learning from the accomplishments and failures of others is extremely cost-effective. In addition, I’ll offer a foolproof way for landing a job as a pen tester. Most individuals are unaware of this importance:

Find a few dozens of pentesting employment opportunities in your region.
Extract the most prevalent criteria, including high-level and detailed technical abilities.
Know what to learn and what employers actually require.
Don’t waste time trying to learn everything. Learn the bare minimum required to get the job and be a valuable team member. From then, your job is fairly adaptable; you may adjust to whatever

 

 

network penetration testing vs application penetration testing

 

A penetration test, also known as a pen test, is an authorized simulated attack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security of the system. The test is performed to identify vulnerabilities, including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system’s features and data, as well as strengths, for a full risk assessment to be completed.

 

This type of testing typically focuses on evaluating the network architecture, devices (such as PCs, servers, routers, firewalls, and switches), and potential loopholes that could be exploited by attackers to move around the network[2].

 

On the other hand, application penetration testing specifically targets the security of individual software applications[3]. This testing method is focused on identifying vulnerabilities within specific applications, such as web applications, mobile apps, or custom software, to determine how secure they are against potential attacks[4].

 

While network penetration testing evaluates the overall security posture of the network infrastructure and devices, application penetration testing delves into the security of software applications themselves. Both forms of testing are essential for identifying and addressing vulnerabilities to enhance the overall cybersecurity resilience of an organization

 

When comparing Network Penetration Testing and Application Penetration Testing, it’s important to understand the purpose and focus of each. Here are some considerations and differences between the two:

 

Network Penetration Testing:

 

Focuses on evaluating the security of an organization’s network infrastructure.

Involves identifying vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and potential entry points in network devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, and servers.

Helps businesses assess their network security posture and identify weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Can include both external and internal assessments to evaluate the security controls and practices in place.

Aims to uncover network-level vulnerabilities and determine if unauthorized access is possible.

Provides recommendations and actionable steps to enhance network security.

 

Application Penetration Testing:

 

Concentrates on assessing the security of business applications, including web, mobile, and desktop applications.

Involves identifying vulnerabilities within the application’s code, logic, and architecture.

Helps organizations identify potential security flaws and weaknesses that could be exploited by attackers.

Examines the security of authentication mechanisms, data handling, input validation, access controls, and more.

Helps uncover vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain unauthorized access, manipulate data, or perform other malicious actions.

Provides recommendations and best practices for enhancing the security of the application.

Ultimately, the choice between Network Penetration Testing and Application Penetration Testing depends on the specific needs and priorities of a business. In many cases, a comprehensive security assessment should include both types of testing to ensure a holistic approach to mitigating risks and enhancing overall security.

 

It is recommended to consult with a cybersecurity professional or a trusted information security service provider to determine the most suitable approach based on your organization’s specific requirements and goals.

 

network penetration testing framework

 

 

A pentest framework, also known as a penetration testing framework, is a defined collection of principles and recommended tools for planning and carrying out efficient pentests in a variety of network and security contexts.

While it is feasible to create your own pentest framework that matches your organization’s particular security and compliance needs, a variety of current techniques and frameworks may be used to make the process simpler for you. In fact, one of these thorough and peer-reviewed solutions is often more successful for keeping your pentests on track.

Read on to discover more about how pentest frameworks are used, how they are configured, and some of the best pentest frameworks available today.

 

How Do Pentest Frameworks Work?

In layman’s words, a pentest framework directs pentesters to the appropriate tools and procedures for a penetration test, based on the nature and scope of the test. Once a pentester has begun the penetration testing and ethical hacking process, they should turn to the pentest framework to choose which tactical categories to examine during their tests.

Once the pentest is completed, the pentester should use the framework to further examine and report on their results, particularly those related to the key tactical areas. It’s also critical to reset the environment to its pre-pentest configuration.

 

Steps of a Typical Pentest Framework

Pentest frameworks function slightly differently depending on the framework used, but generally follow similar stages to enable firms go through their pentesting programs swiftly and completely.

Here are some of the most frequent stages that a pentest framework takes:

Initial planning and preparation: The framework instructs organizations to determine who their pentester(s) will be, what pentest framework and methodology/methodologies they will use, test expectations and reported results, any legal or compliance requirements, and any tools or resources required to conduct a successful test.

Intelligence and information gathering: Early in the pentest framework development and selection process, information such as asset ownership scope, network targets, exploits, any involved third parties, network ports, IP addresses, relevant employees’ names, and property locations should be collected. This phase may also be referred to as the finding, testing, scanning, or assessment phase.
Attack phase: The pentester launches an attack and assesses the system’s performance against the framework’s specified strategy categories.
Post-attack phase: The pentester, or a team of cybersecurity professionals, ensures that the testing environment’s assets and features are restored to their previous condition.
Reporting results: The pentest framework is used to organize results depending on the tools used, tactic category performance, and other factors.

 

You might find this article interesting too!: How to Completely Maximize PC Performance

 

10 Categories in a Pentest Framework

 

The usual pentest framework clearly defines the strategy categories that pentesters should utilize to assess cybersecurity effectiveness across numerous fronts during penetration testing activities. Every framework has its own vocabulary and approach to strategy categories, however the following are some of the most common categories seen in a pentest framework:

Collection:

As an ethical hacker, what kind of information and security intelligence can you gather during an attack? How valuable is this knowledge for future assault paths and plans?
Command & Control: What types of backdoors and covert communication channels may you install in the company network’s servers or apps during your simulated attack? Are these backdoors easily detectable? Do they remain open even after cybersecurity technologies step in to mitigate the risk?

 

Credential/information access:

certain tools, users, and devices may access certain types of data? What credentials and restrictions are in place, and how successful are they in preventing unauthorized user access during the simulated attack?

Defense evasion capabilities and strategies:

How does your cybersecurity infrastructure identify threats and respond to an attacker’s defense evasion tactics? How well does your infrastructure detect and avoid different sorts of attacks, and how fast does it pivot when initial lines of protection are insufficient?

Discovery and Information Gathering:

 

How fast and thoroughly does your cybersecurity setup collect and sort through important security event information once the simulated assault begins?

Execution:

How do your cybersecurity technologies respond to an unauthorized user or other questionable behavior on the network? What tools are used, what are their reaction times, and how do tools compare to security experts in mitigating threats? Furthermore, how does your cybersecurity architecture deal with threat types such as remote code execution?

Exfiltration:

Can data be taken from anywhere on your network? If so, what data is available, how much can be stolen, and how much (if any) resistance is provided against data exfiltration attempts?

Lateral movement:

During the simulated attack, can you simply travel from your original point of access to another app, database, or network component? How difficult is it to travel between grouped apps and components of the network that are in various segments or departments?

Persistence:

What misconfigurations, backdoors, implants, or other attack components remain after cybersecurity tools respond to your attack? Over what time period may these characteristics continue to launch discrete attacks?

Privilege escalation:

Can attackers update their own credentials or steal another user’s credentials in order to get more access and permissions in the network or particular applications? How difficult is privilege escalation for internal bad actors compared to external bad actors?

 

 

How Penetration Testing Frameworks Are Used

In general, penetration test frameworks are used to increase the scope and effectiveness of pentesting activities. However, pentests are used for a number of purposes, and pentest frameworks have a range of applications. Here are some of the most typical methods to employ penetration test frameworks:

vulnerability assessment and management
Ethical hacking for offensive cybersecurity enhancements
Defensive cybersecurity assessments
Discovery, probing, and reconnaissance.
Enumeration and Information Gathering
Cybersecurity and compliance audits

 

7 Top Pentest Frameworks Explained

Below, you will discover some of the most often used pentest frameworks and approaches, both in a chart and a more extensive explanation. It’s essential to note that many of the frameworks you see mentioned here — such as the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM) — began out as simple pentesting frameworks but have subsequently grown into methods upon which further pentesting frameworks have been constructed.

 

Cobalt Strike

Cobalt Strike is a red team command and operations framework that is one of the most used frameworks for pentesting. The platform contains adversary simulations, incident response guidelines, social engineering capabilities, and more. Users have the opportunity to customize Cobalt Strike to their unique needs with the Community Kit repository, and they may further extend its capabilities by utilizing it in tandem with Core Impact, the pentesting software supplied by Fortra.

Metasploit

Metasploit is a collaboratively-designed penetration testing framework that originates from Rapid7 and the open-source community. Some of its most essential features are 1,500 exploits, network discovery, MetaModules for activities like network segmentation testing, automated tests, baseline audits and reporting, and manual exploitation and credential brute force options. Users can select between the free, open-source version of Metasploit or Metasploit Pro for extra functionality.

 

NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a little more comprehensive framework that focuses on standards, best practices, and guidelines for all types of cybersecurity concerns. This approach focuses on five functions: identification, protection, detection, response, and recovery. Because it is a larger framework developed by the United States Department of Commerce, this standardized framework may serve as guidance for a wide range of cybersecurity testing and compliance audits.

Open-Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM)

The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies (ISECOME)’s OSSTMM framework has evolved from fundamental framework elements to a complete methodology for security testing and analysis. The Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual, among other subjects addressed in its extensive guide, provides users with information on defining and scoping a security test, rules of engagement, error management, and result dissemination.

 

Penetration Test Execution Standard (PTES)

The Penetration Testing Execution Standard, or PTES, is another pentesting framework that has grown into a comprehensive methodology. Its primary elements are: penetration test communication and justification, intelligence collecting, threat modeling, vulnerability research, exploitation and post-exploitation, and reporting. The official PTES standards do not include how to perform a pentest; thus, the team created a technical guidelines paper to advise and help in this area. A second, improved version of PTES is now in development.

Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP).

The OWASP Continuous Penetration Testing Framework is a work-in-progress framework that focuses on standards, guidelines, and tools for information and application security penetration tests. OWASP provides a visible route for anyone interested in Learning more about the framework’s release history and features.

 

 

PenTesters’ Framework (PTF)

TrustedSec’s PenTesters Framework (PTF) is mainly reliant on the Penetration Testing Execution Standard. It is intended to simplify installation and packing while being extremely adaptable and flexible. Users can download PTF using a Linux command or straight from Git.

Bottom line: Pentest frameworks

Your penetration testing efforts will be less effective if you do not employ a pentest framework to organize your procedures, tools, and tactical areas of focus. Pentesting techniques must be repeatable and scalable, especially as your organization’s attack surface grows. Pentest frameworks eliminate guesswork from pentesting, allowing you to focus on improving other areas of vulnerability management while still running effective tests.

 

If you are planning to implement Network Penetration Testing in your company, contact us!

 

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