NETWORK PENETRATION TESTING
At a glance
Network penetration testing is one of a type of ethical hacking testing activities that are specifically designed to find weaknesses in IT networks. Once identified, these vulnerabilities can be assessed to allow the network operator to understand their network’s level of risk exposure. Even the smallest network infrastructure vulnerabilities can be exploited to cause technical issues across the whole system. We help clients to protect themselves from these lower-level vulnerabilities to ensure the smooth functioning and secure operation of their network.
Network penetration testing, also known as a network pentest, is a simulated attack carried out against a computer network to find any exploitable vulnerabilities. Pen tests are carried out using the same tools and methods as a malicious hacker uses, but with the intent to find and document weaknesses so they can be fixed. There are different forms of testing as listed below; the pen test may comprise one or more of these depending upon the nature of the network under test.
External Network Testing
Testing networks from their external interfaces can identify the information about the network that an internet-based attacker, who has no prior knowledge of the system, can identify and what weaknesses they can discover.
Typically conducted as a black-box test, our test team target the expose elements of the network and attempt to exploit vulnerabilities to migrate into the internal networks and escalate their access. Using search engines, with scanning of the network, ports, and vulnerabilities, the test team will identify vulnerable services and sources of information leakage.
Internal Network Testing
An internal network penetration test will follow on from the external inspection, expanding the scope to include insider knowledge and basic authorized network access to identify and exploit any weaknesses.
Conducted as a white-box test, our test team target the weaknesses that allow the escalation of privileges to gain unauthorized access to services and information. Testing encompasses the systems and services that form the internal network and includes all discoverable network-enabled and connected devices attached to the network.
Wireless Network Testing
Wireless networks represent a special case for external and internal network testing, requiring specialist techniques to exploit these networks and gain access to other parts of the internal network. Test techniques include identification of rogue and insecure access points, weaknesses in encryption mechanisms, and unintended interconnection between segregated networks.
A crucial part of network testing is the manual review of device configurations such as software build standards, patching status, operating system hardening as well as a router, firewall, and switch settings. The paper review can identify weaknesses that result from unpatched software, open ports, and incorrect security settings.
Network Penetration Testing Tools
WCS uses a suite of penetration testing tools to undertake its testing activities. These tools are publicly available software applications that are used to test for a broad range of network security vulnerabilities. The skill and expertise that WCS’s test team offer is knowing which tools are best in which situation, how to use them effectively, how to interpret the complex results to identify and weaknesses, and most importantly how to achieve this without adversely affecting the performance or damaging the network under test.
Network Pentest Checklist
WCS has developed a network pen test checklist to allow its test team to deliver effective, efficient, and repeatable test results for network testing. The critical steps in the checklist include:
Host Discovery – information gathering techniques to inform the subsequent testing.
Port Scanning – identification of gateways for unauthorized access to parts of the network.
Fingerprinting – identification of operating system information to find known weaknesses.
Vulnerability Scanning – automated tools that look for known weaknesses in software and services.
Reporting – categorization of identified vulnerabilities based on their criticality and recommendations for removal or mitigation.