How to Perform Successful Penetration Testing

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is known as an assimilated hack to identify vulnerabilities in your environment that hackers can exploit to extract your critical data. It is also known as ethical hacking. Since today’s hackers are sophisticated as demonstrated by today’s news headlines of cyber-attacks both targeting government organizations and corporations, you need a team of highly qualified cybersecurity experts that can think like today’s advanced cyber attackers.

Why and When is a Penetration Test Necessary?

Penetrating testing is mandatory not only for compliance, also to gain knowledge of the most effective ways to defend your organization from the vulnerabilities identified from the penetration test. In addition to knowing if breached from these exposed vulnerabilities, you will know the amount of damage it can cause your organization. Knowledge is power. When you know these critical factors, you can successfully protect your critical data and monitor your critical data. Our client’s benefit from our effective remediation after identifying their vulnerabilities.

A penetration test shows if your tools and configurations are effective to protect your organization from today’s sophisticated cyber attackers’. It helps prevent attackers taking over networks, installing malware, disrupting your business and potentially costing you millions of dollars as a result. The average cost of a single data breach is $3.5 million dollars according to The Ponemon Institute, 2017.

Boost the Performance of Penetration Testing

Outsourcing your penetration test increases the success of the penetration test because you get an outside perspective with a fresh set of eyes to identify security threats. You want to outsource to a cybersecurity company with experience because they have advanced knowledge based on their experience. You also want to ensure they are not limited to automated testing. Human intelligence currently exceeds artificial intelligence. AI software programs not involving humans to detect and monitoring cyber threats are not as advanced as humans are. AI cannot mimic the advanced capabilities humans have to effectively detect and prevent organizational breaches in all forms.

The Phases of Penetration Testing

Penetration Testing Methodologies

Penetration testing is a type of security testing that is used to assess the ability of a system to defend against external threats. There are many different penetration testing methodologies, but they all have one common goal: to find and exploit weaknesses in a system. The most common penetration testing methodology is known as black box testing. This approach focuses on simulating an attack from an outside perspective, without any prior knowledge of the system. White box testing, on the other hand, is conducted from an insider perspective. This approach relies on knowledge of the system’s inner workings in order to identify potential weaknesses. Gray box testing is a hybrid of these two approaches, and it is often used when penetration testers are working with limited information. No matter which methodology is used, penetration testing can provide valuable insights into a system’s vulnerabilities.

Mobile Application Penetration Testing Methodology

Phase I Discovery

  • Open Source IntelligenceOpen Source Intelligence, or OSINT, is the practice of collecting information from publicly available sources. This can include social media, news articles, search engines, and more. OSINT is often used for penetration testing, or the process of trying to gain access to a system or network. By collecting publicly available information, penetration testers can find vulnerabilities that they can then exploit. OSINT can also be used for intelligence gathering, such as tracking the movements of a particular individual or group. Ultimately, OSINT is a powerful tool that can be used for a variety of purposes.
  • Understand the Platform – To understand the complexity of penetration testing, it is important to consider all of the different factors that come into play. With penetration testing, security analysts must have a deep knowledge of the target systems and applications that they are trying to hack. They must also have extensive experience with different types of attack techniques, such as social engineering, SQL injection, and brute force attacks. Additionally, penetration testers need to be skilled at developing custom exploits that can help them to get past any security measures and access critical data and systems. Ultimately, penetration testing requires a combination of technical expertise and creative problem-solving skills in order to be successful.
  • Client-Side vs. Server Side Scenarios – In the world of cybersecurity, there are two main types of testing: client-side and server-side. Client-side penetration testing, also known as whitebox penetration testing, involves scanning an application or system from the user’s perspective. This means that testers take on the role of a typical end user and attempt to break through security measures by entering false data, bypassing authentication measures, or exploiting vulnerabilities. Client-side penetration testing is useful for uncovering security flaws that can directly impact users of a particular application or system.

    In contrast, server-side penetration testing, or blackbox penetration testing, focuses on specific elements within an application’s code rather than directly observing how it is used. During these tests, testers use automated scripts to scan for vulnerabilities and then attempt to exploit them in real time. Server-side penetration testing is typically used to identify systemic weaknesses in an organization’s IT infrastructure and often suggests areas for improvement based on these findings. Ultimately, whether you need a client-side or server-side penetration test depends on your specific needs and intended outcomes. But both are powerful tools for uncovering critical vulnerabilities that can impact your business’s bottom line.

Phase II Assessment/ Analysis

  • Local File Analysis – Local File Analysis is the process of looking for sensitive information that has been unintentionally left in publicly accessible files. This can include anything from passwords and SQL database dumps to credit card numbers and confidential documents. While it may seem like a daunting task, Local File Analysis can be a valuable tool for penetration testers. By searching for sensitive data, penetration testers can gain a better understanding of an organization’s security posture and identify potential vulnerabilities. Additionally, Local File Analysis can also help penetration testers to understand an organization’s business processes and identify potential areas of improvement. With its ability to provide valuable insights into both an organization’s security posture and business processes, Local File Analysis is an essential tool for any penetration tester.
  • Archive Analysis – Archive analysis is the process of determining the contents of a file or group of files without opening them. This can be useful in a number of situations, such as penetration testing, where you may want to know what kind of data is stored in a file without actually opening it and triggering any alerts. Archive analysis can also be used to determine the provenance of a file, or to check for signs of tampering. There are a number of tools available for archive analysis, and the exact approach will vary depending on the file format. However, in general, you will need to extract the headers and metadata from the file in order to get an overview of its contents. This can be done using a hex editor or a specialized tool designed for archive analysis. Once you have extracted the headers, you can then use a reverse engineering approach to try to understand what they contain. This can be a complex process, but it is often possible to get a good understanding of the contents of a file without actually opening it.
  • Static/Dynamic Analysis – Penetration testing can be divided into two main types: static and dynamic analysis. Static analysis is a type of penetration testing that relies on code review and other forms of static analysis to find vulnerabilities. Dynamic analysis is a type of penetration testing that relies on runtime monitoring and assessment to find vulnerabilities. Dynamic analysis is generally considered more effective than static analysis, but both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. Penetration testing is an essential part of any security program, and it should be tailored to the specific needs of the organization.
  • Inter-Process – Inter-process penetration testing is a crucial part of effective cybersecurity. By identifying weaknesses and vulnerabilities in a system’s internal processes, penetration testers are able to proactively protect critical data and prevent security breaches before they happen. Such testing typically involves identifying areas where there might be potential entry points for attackers, such as poorly-protected user accounts or lax password protocols. Once these vulnerabilities have been identified, penetration testers can take steps to shore up the system’s defenses and ensure that sensitive information remains safe and secure. Whether it’s evaluating firewall settings, taking on simulated hacker attacks, or performing penetration simulations against fake company data, inter-process penetration testing plays an essential role in protecting organizations against malicious attacks.
  • Endpoint Analysis – Endpoint analysis is a critical part of the penetration testing process, as it allows security professionals to gain a deeper understanding of potential vulnerabilities in their systems. This involves carefully examining each aspect of an endpoint, including its hardware components, software configuration, network settings, and more. By doing this, security experts can better understand where flaws may lie and take measures to either fix or work around those flaws in order to ensure the highest level of protection for their organization. Thus, endpoint analysis remains an essential tool for companies looking to strengthen their cybersecurity posture through penetration testing.

Phase IV Exploitation

  • Conduct Proof of Concept – Proof of concept (PoC) exploits are an essential part of penetration testing. These attacks are designed to demonstrate the potential vulnerabilities that exist within a computer or network system without causing any real damage. PoC exploits typically involve using custom software tools to identify security holes and exploit them in order to gain access to restricted areas or otherwise compromise the overall security of the system. This makes them a critical tool for penetration testers and cyber security experts, as they allow us to mitigate threats and prevent potential attacks before they actually occur. Overall, PoC exploits play an indispensable role when it comes to protecting our data and ensuring that our systems remain secure.
  • Exploitation of identified weaknesses – This involves identifying and verifying potential weaknesses in a system or network and then attempting to exploit these vulnerabilities by entering, or “penetrating,” the system or network. By looking for areas of vulnerability, the penetration test can highlight any weaknesses that may need to be addressed. Furthermore, by confirming the existence of particular vulnerabilities and documenting their specific characteristics, a penetration test can help to improve an organization’s security posture by allowing issues to be prioritized and addressed systematically. Ultimately, taking these measures can help to ensure that sensitive data remains safe and secure from unauthorized access.
  • Exploit vulnerabilities to gain sensitive information or perform malicious activities

Phase V Post-Exploitation

  • Identify and exploit privilege escalation vulnerabilities (root)
  • Persist with device/application to show future access possibilities

Phase VI Reporting

  • Provide detailed reporting on findings along with risk rating, business impact and prioritized remediation recommendations – Over the past several years, our team of security experts has conducted numerous penetration tests on a wide range of businesses and organizations. We have amassed a wealth of data detailing the specific vulnerabilities that we identified during these tests, as well as the potential impact of each one on business operations.

    Based on this information, we have developed a comprehensive risk rating system that assigns a risk level to each vulnerability according to its severity and likelihood of being exploited. Business impact is also taken into account when assigning a risk rating, with factors such as financial losses and brand reputation playing an important role in our decision-making process.

    In addition to providing detailed reporting on our findings, we also offer prioritized remediation recommendations so that you can address your most urgent vulnerabilities first. Whether you need guidance on improving your overall security posture or more detailed advice on implementing specific mitigation strategies, we are here to help you protect your business from emerging cyber threats. So if you’re looking for comprehensive penetration testing services, look no further than our team at Difenda!

Web Application Penetration Testing Methodology – OWASP Top 10

Penetration tests are an important part of any organization’s cybersecurity strategy, and the OWASP Top 10 is a popular framework for conducting these tests. The OWASP Top 10 is a classification of the most common attacks on web applications, and it includes 10 categories: injection, broken authentication and session management, cross-site scripting, insecure direct object references, security misconfiguration, sensitive data discovery, cross-site request forgery, using components with known vulnerabilities, insufficient supply chain security, and Insufficient logging and monitoring. Penetration testers use a variety of tools and techniques to simulate each of these attacks, and they then provide recommendations on how to fix the vulnerabilities they find. By performing regular penetration tests using the OWASP Top 10 framework, organizations can help to ensure that their web applications are secure against the most common types of attacks.

  • Map Application Content – Gather detailed information about your application platform.
  • Deconstruct Application – Identify potential attack vectors located within the application and its business logic.
  • Threat Modeling – Identify likely attack scenarios within your application platform and potential risks associated with them. Threat modeling is an essential part of cyber security. By identifying likely attack scenarios and the risks associated with them, businesses can take steps to protect themselves against potential cyber threats. Cybersecurity experts typically use a three-step process to evaluate threat models: first, they identify the assets that need to be protected; second, they identify the potential threat vectors that could be used to attack those assets; and third, they assess the likelihood and impact of each threat vector. By taking these steps, businesses can develop a comprehensive cyber security plan that will help to protect their data and systems from potential attacks.
  • Application Vulnerability Analysis – Identify weaknesses in specific applications deployed within your environment, testing client-side controls, authentication methods, session management, access controls, input based controls, security issues related to functionality, logic flaws, and information leakage.
  • Proof of Concept – Conduct proof of concept of identified weaknesses and develop impact results such as capability of an attacker to commit fraud or pose financial loss.
  • Reporting – Provide detailed reporting of all identified Vulnerabilities, successful exploitations, and prioritized remediation strategies
Penetration Test Methodology for Wireless
  • Reconnaissance – Gather detailed information about client’s 802.11 Infrastructure and SSIDs.
  • Attacking the access points – Identify potential attack vectors against 802.11 access points located within client’s environment.
  • Pivoting – Attempt to gain access to resources not normally provided via the 802.11 network by testing network segmentation.
  • Reporting – Provide detailed reporting of all identified vulnerabilities, successful exploitations, and prioritized remediation strategies.

Penetration Testing Tools and Services

Difenda conducts all penetration testing using commercial tools in combination with in-house developed security testing applications to achieve maximum results in identifying vulnerabilities within an environment. Choosing a cybersecurity company to work with is a big decision. With many cybersecurity companies talking about penetration testing, what should you look for and how can you be sure of making the right choice?

Download our Penetration Testing Whitepaper to learn about what questions you should be asking your next penetration testing team!

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Penetration Testing Whitepaper

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Ken Perkins

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Deepak Khandekar

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Carlos Espinoza

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Sheldon Shaw

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Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Ian Miersch

Ian Miersch has energy to spare, and uses his eclectic background to make a positive mark on the cybersecurity industry. As Vice President of Finance & Human Resources, Ian Miersch is responsible for overseeing scalable business growth as Difenda expands throughout North America. But it is the way he does it that sets him apart. By leveraging his engineering background and critical thinking skills, he has been able to develop unique strategies that balance the company’s current business needs with its long-term growth plans. And the results of his unique background and drive mean that the company is growing in a fiscally responsible manner, all with the customer’s needs at the forefront.

With a Bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering, coupled with an MBA in Finance, both from McMaster University, Ian’s ability to analyze data and make informed decisions is augmented by his ability to understand all facets of the business. He has a holistic understanding of the craft, from operations to project delivery and management, to his niche in financial planning. Ian’s ten years of experience in the industry mean that he has seen it all, and knows how to create a dynamic team and manage the resources needed for success.

Outside of work, he uses his energy to help others through the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program, earning the Group Recreation Volunteer of the Year Status.

Ian also enjoys exploring and hiking with his three young children, exercising (so he can keep up with them), and reading professional development books. He is an avid but generally heartbroken fan of the Toronto sports teams, including the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Raptors.

Derek Nugent

Derek Nugent, Vice President, Revenue lives by the motto “Be early, be better.” Derek leads our Sales and Marketing team and is responsible for customer success, as well as pre-sales and sales enablement. His high energy level and creativity have built high performing teams, whether at the Herjavec Group, CDW, or in his current leadership role at Difenda.

After earning a Bachelor Administration and Management degree from the Academy of Learning, Derek started in the information technology industry in 2004 and transitioned to the cybersecurity industry in 2014. With so much experience in a wide-variety of roles, he is poised to take the team at Difenda to the next level.

He excels at leading revenue strategies, new market entry, partnership engagement, and customer acquisition and retention. His work ethic and interest in rising to the top motivate his sales teams, who respond well to his passion and zeal. Under his tutelage, they are able to achieve attractive lead generation, YOY growth, and sizable deals. Derek works tirelessly to build a better team, and his constituents follow his road to success, which ultimately leads to a rewarding experience for the customer.

Even when volunteering, Derek is all in. He was a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters from 2005-2015, earning Group Recreation Volunteer of the Year Status.

And when he isn’t busy leading the team to the acme of sales, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, running, working out, watching thrillers, action and dramatic television shows

Manoj Arora

Manoj Arora, Difenda’s Founder and CEO has always been ahead of the curve in Technology and Cyber Security. After securing his engineering degree in Computer Science, he wrote his first mobile banking application when he was just 23 years old. This accomplishment certainly set him apart from the crowd and prepared him for a lifetime of innovation and success in his field. At just 25 years old, he was selected as the youngest Cyber Security Officer for one of the largest banks in Asia.

As a globetrotting young cyber security professional, Manoj was instrumental in designing cyber security infrastructure and controls for some of the largest institutions around the world. Depth of his expertise and passion to serve customers at the highest level of competence and integrity lead to Difenda. Founded in 2008, Difenda is a rapidly growing cybersecurity firm operating in North America and Asia.

As the CEO at Difenda, Manoj drives the strategic vision to protect our customers and enable our team members to deliver our services in line with core values- competence, integrity, and innovation. Currently one of Microsoft’s leading North American partners, Difenda reflects Manoj’ single-minded focus on our customers. Difenda is fully vested in success of its customers and takes pride in considering our success as a byproduct of our customers. Manoj has always been committed to building a great team and forging strong partnerships to serve our customers with standards that top our industry.

When he is not busy bringing cybersecurity to the world, Manoj enjoys playing golf and squash, and continues to travel the world.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Andrew Hodges

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Jeffry Jacob

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