Smartgrid’s cyber security team has performed a penetration test that is also known as a pen test, to find out the attempted breaching of any number of application systems, (e.g., application protocol interfaces (APIs), frontend/backend servers) used by our customer so that it can uncover vulnerabilities, such as unsanitized inputs that are susceptible to code injection attacks. In the context of web application security, we performed the penetration test to augment a web application firewall (WAF). The Insights provided by the penetration test was used to fine-tune the WAF security policies and patch detected vulnerabilities. The pen testing process was done in five stages as shown in the figure.
Penetration testing methods comprises external, internal, blind, double-blind and targeted testings. External penetration tests target the assets of a company that are visible on the internet, e.g., the web application itself, the company website, and email and domain name servers (DNS). The goal is to gain access and extract valuable data. During internal test, a tester with access to an application behind its firewall simulates an attack by a malicious insider. In blind test, a tester is only given the name of the enterprise that’s being targeted. This gives security personnel a real-time look into how an actual application assault would take place. In a double blind test, security personnel have no prior knowledge of the simulated attack. As in the real world, they won’t have any time to shore up their defenses before an attempted breach. In targeted testing scenario, both the tester and security personnel work together and keep each other appraised of their movements. This is a valuable training exercise that provides a security team with real-time feedback from a hacker’s point of view.