Network Infrastructure Penetration Testing?

Network penetration testing is the process of simulating a hacker-style attack on your network assets to detect and exploit security misconfigurations, network vulnerabilities, and threats like open ports, vulnerable devices, or outdated software running on the network.

Benefits of performing network infrastructure penetration testing

The benefit to implementing network pen testing is that it allows a business to gain valuable insight into its overall security posture and empowers it to take informed action to resolve problems before a malicious attacker can exploit its systems.

More specifically, network pen testing provides the following:

  • The ability to analyze and understand security posture and controls.
  • The ability to prevent breaches before they can happen
  • Help in learning what to do in case of an actual attack by understanding how a system responds to hacking activities
  • Less time and money spent fixing damage caused by preventable attacks.

Common Vulnerabilities in Network

  • Weaknesses in Security Controls: The most common vulnerabilities detected by network penetration tests are weaknesses in security controls. These include weak passwords and the lack of two-factor authentication. Attackers can also use open ports to find potential exploits (Tunggal, 2022).
  • Lack of Segmentation: Another common vulnerability is the lack of segmentation between networks. This can allow attackers to move laterally through a network and gain access to sensitive data. Network segmentation divides the network into distinct sub-networks to enhance security control delivery.
  • Unpatched Software: Outdated or unpatched software is yet another concern. It can provide attackers with a way to exploit known vulnerabilities and gain access to a network.
  • Insecure Configuration: Incorrectly configured devices and services are other vulnerabilities detected through pen testing. Improper configuration may allow attackers to bypass security controls and access sensitive data.

Types of Networks infrastructure Penetration Testing 

Penetration testing can be internal or external. Internal penetration assesses an organization’s security posture and identifies security control shortcomings. External penetration testing examines enterprise perimeter security and detects security control flaws.  

There is another big difference between internal and external network penetration testing: internal network pen testing is performed by authorized personnel within an organization. In contrast, external network pen testing is done by authorized parties outside of the organization.

Perimeter network penetration testing aims to evaluate how effective perimeter security measures detect and deter attackers. It also spots flaws in internet-facing assets like FTP servers. Perimeter devices and testing include:

  • Firewalls: Assessing firewall security implementation.
  • Routers: Examining the security posture before traffic appearance on an untrusted network.
  • Switches: Evaluating switch security.
  • IDS devices: Detecting unusual or suspicious activity in network traffic and alerting the administrator.
  • IPS devices: Monitoring malicious activity on a network and taking action to stop it.

Steps in the Network infrastructure Penetration Testing Process

There are four steps in the network penetration testing process:

  • Client Expectations: The first step is to understand the client’s expectations. This includes the scope of the engagement, the objectives, and any constraints.
  • Reconnaissance: This involves gathering information about the target system and can be accomplished through passive or active methods. Passive reconnaissance requires the tester to collect information about the target system without interacting with it. This can be done by searching public records, social media, and other online resources. Active reconnaissance has the tester interact with the target system to gather information. This can be achieved through port scanning, banner grabbing, and other methods.
  • Performing the Network Penetration Test: The next step is to perform the actual penetration test. Doing so includes identifying vulnerabilities and exploiting them to gain access to the system.
  • Reporting and Recommendations: In this final step, the security team prepares a detailed report describing the whole testing process. The report should include a list of all identified vulnerabilities and a risk assessment. Recommendations should be made to mitigate the identified risks.