A Strategic Approach to Successful Penetration Testing  

Successful Penetration Testing  

What is Penetration Testing? 

A penetration test is an assimilated hack conducted by highly qualified cybersecurity experts. It is a form of ethical hacking used to identify vulnerabilities within your environment. Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, involves the attempted breach of any number of applications or security systems. Insights from a pen test can be used to fine-tune your security policies and patch detected vulnerabilities.  

Why is Penetration Testing Necessary?

Some vulnerabilities are unidentifiable by software alone. Pen tests show if your tools and configurations are effective to protect your organization from today’s sophisticated cyber attackers. They help prevent attackers from taking over networks, installing malware, disrupting your business and potentially costing you millions of dollars. 

Pen testing is mandatory for addressing regulatory and compliance standards. They also uncover effective ways to defend your organization from vulnerabilities. Key insights from pen testing include not only where your vulnerabilities are, but the amount of damage an attack of that nature can cause. When you understand these critical factors, you can successfully protect your business and monitor your critical data more effectively.  

Effective Security Programs Need Regular Pen Testing  

Penetration testing should be done regularly to detect recent and previously unknown vulnerabilities. Your organization’s penetration testing sequence depends on the type of testing being done and the scope of the test.

Testing should be done at a minimum every year. Internal vulnerability scanning of workstations, for standards such as the PCI DSS it is recommended to have intervals for various scan types monthly. Penetration testing should be done after deployment of new infrastructure and applications as well as after major changes to infrastructure and applications (e.g., changes to firewall rules, updating of firmware, patches and upgrades to software).  


Scoping is the most important part of a penetration test. It paves the pathway to ensure you are checking the places your attackers know you are not looking at.  

Scoping is focusing on one or more areas such as physically showing up to an organization to give a USP stick to a receptionist with an excuse of, “I have a meeting with your CEO, Steve Norris and wanted to ensure the presentation was on it, can you please check for me?”. If you test on a small scope such as 10 IP addresses, this is not effective because today’s cyber attackers are sophisticated. They know you are looking at and protecting the front end of your business operations. Today’s attackers will go through the back end of operations where they know you are not monitoring or protecting effectively. Putting typical boundaries on the amount of data we test leaves an organization vulnerable to cyber attackers.  

“A hacker will look beyond the typical boundaries’ organizations set for penetration testing to gain access to critical information. A hacker looks at an organization three dimensionally. This is one danger an organization has when they only focus on conducting a penetration test on the front end of business operations. For a penetration test to be fully effective, an organization should also be testing their back end of business operations where most hackers are hacking into.”  

says, Manoj Arora, CEO of Difenda

How to Boost the Performance of Penetration Testing

The key to effective pen testing is thinking like a threat actor and being unfamiliar with the environment you are trying to access. Human intelligence is an important factor when it comes to security breaches and AI cannot mimic the advanced capabilities humans have. Outsourcing your pen test increases the success of the penetration test because you utilize expert intelligence that is unfamiliar with your environment; giving you the most accurate and real-life results. Outsourcing your pen test also ensures your test is not limited to internal automated technologies.  

Updated penetration testing standards and methodologies provide a viable option for companies who need to secure their systems and fix their cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

Difenda’s Penetration Testing Methodology

Every cybersecurity company will have different methodologies in their penetration testing procedures. These tests can deliver widely different results depending on which standards and methodologies they leverage.  

Difenda has designed a penetration testing methodology that is aligned to the industry-leading Penetration Testing Execution Standards and OWASP Top 10 and the Mobile Application Penetration Testing Methodology.  

1. Reconnaissance/intelligence gathering  

  • Collect security vulnerabilities to prepare for subsequent vulnerability exploitation. Learn about the organization’s structure, personnel, and assets. Identify likely scenarios for data exfiltration of sensitive data.  
  • Determine assets of value, discover the attack surface, and prepare a list of targets.  
  • Once the attack surface and targets are mapped out, a list of applicable threats and their impact on the data is enumerated for later use. 

2. Threat Modeling/Map Application Content/Deconstruct Application  

  • Using data from the intelligence gathering phase, identify likely attack scenarios  
  • Analyze information gathered on specific services to determine the potential impact and probability of an identified weakness.  
  • Gather detailed information about the application platform.  
  • Identify potential attack vectors located within the application and its business logic  

3. Analyze the Application/VA  

  • Identify any potential configuration, service, or deployment issues with external hosts.  
  • Identify potential weaknesses in external security controls such as firewall and detection methods. 
  • Research vulnerabilities identified and develop proof of concepts to determine viability for potential exploit. 
  • Identify weaknesses in specific applications deployed within the environment, testing client-side controls, authentication methods, session management, access controls, input-based controls, security issues related to functionality, logic flaws, and information leakage. 

4. Exploitation/Post Exploitation 

  • Develop and execute proof of concept for vulnerabilities identified within the environment. 
  • Execute attack scenarios based on successful proof of concepts developed such as internal data exfiltration, or access to internal data externally.  
  • Conduct proof of concept of identified weaknesses and develop impact results such as the capability of an attacker to commit fraud or pose monetary loss. 

5. Reporting  

  • Provide results on the overall security posture of all items in scope.  
  • Provide a risk/ranking profile of all items in scope.  
  • Provide prioritized recommendations and remediation strategies based on results.  

Difenda’s pen testing engagements differ from other cybersecurity companies, by: 

  • Not only providing an understanding of what exploitation techniques were possible against a target environment but Difenda also provides detailed, risk-based reporting and recommendations on how to resolve the issue. 
  • Using threat modelling to customize exploitation and attack techniques that are appropriate for a specific target or application. 
  • Deploying a consistent methodical approach, detailing not just how exploitation was accomplished, but recommendations and assistance on how to resolve the issue. 

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Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

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.

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.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon