A penetration testing, colloquially known as a pentest, is an authorized simulated cyber attack on a computer system or network performed to evaluate the security strength.
The penetration test is performed to identify both weaknesses (also referred to as vulnerabilities), including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system's features and data. The process typically identifies the target systems and running services, then reviews available information and undertakes various means to attain that goal. A penetration test target may be a white box (which provides background and system information) or black box (which provides only basic or no information except the company name). A gray box penetration test is a combination of the two (where limited knowledge of the target is shared with the auditor).
A penetration test can help determine whether a system is vulnerable to attack if the defenses were sufficient. This analysis is carried out from the position of a potential attacker, and can involve active exploitation of security vulnerabilities. Any security issues that are found will be presented to the system owner together with an assessment of their impact and often with a proposal for mitigation or a technical solution. The output of a penetration test is a report which contain information for management and technical audience.
The vulnerability scanning is the process of assessing computers, networks or applications for known security weaknesses. This service is used on regular bases in the identification and detection of vulnerabilities arising from mis-configurations or flawed programming within a network-based asset such as a firewall, router, web server, application server, etc. This process is mainly performed by using automated tools which are update daily based on publicly known vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scanning is considered as a first step of a penetration testing process. However this service could be offered as a standalone one. This service could be used to detect any changes to the scanned infrastructure along to detection of any backdoor if such was implanted after a cyber security attack or any malicious actor.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) assessment is performed as a gap analysis against all 12 requirements categories and 6 milestones. Internal and External penetration testing service come to maintain the compliance level for Service Providers based on requirement 11.3. Vulnerability scanning is also recommended to be performed on quarterly basis.
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