Phases of Penetration Testing

Understanding the important Phases of Penetration Testing

The primary use of Penetration testing is to augment a Web application firewall (WAF), which is essential for Web application security. Another word for penetration testing is pen testing. There are some common strategies involved in penetration testing. Pen testing is a form of ethical hacking demonstrated by white hat testers with the help of different tools and techniques. The main objective of penetration testing is to identify exploitable issues and implement adequate security controls. This article will study the 5 phases of penetration testing with their type.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a form of ethical hacking used for Web application Security. For an organization, penetration testing helps security professionals to identify issues and evaluate the effectiveness of security measures in the organization. IT professionals can also use penetration testing tools and techniques to check the robustness of an organization’s security policies.

The objective of testing is to find out defects and weaknesses in systems. For example, if we talk about web applications, pen-testing helps identify vulnerabilities like SQL injection, buffer overflow, and many more. The critical thing for Networks is closing unused ports, calibrating firewall rules, and increasing security with some troubleshooting services.

According to Wikipedia, “A penetration test, colloquially known as a pen test or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated cyberattack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security of the system; this is not to be confused with a vulnerability assessment”.

Below mentioned are some standard pen-testing tools:

  • Port scanners
  • Vulnerability scanners
  • Application scanners
  • Web application assessment proxies

Further, by using the set as mentioned above of practical tools, professionals can plan their penetration strategies accordingly on how to fortify defenses.

How does Penetration Testing work?

There are some common penetration testing strategies:

  • External Testing
  • Internal Testing
  • Blind Testing
  • Double-Blind Testing
  • Targeted Testing

External Testing:

In external testing, attacks on the company’s network area generally occur from outside, for instance, the Internet and Extranet.

Internal Testing:

As the name suggests, internal testing is performed within the organization. This involves understanding what could happen if the network is successfully penetrated also what user should take actions to penetrate the information from the organization’s network.

Blind Testing:

In a blind tasting, the tester or ethical hacker tries to stimulate good actions. In this type of testing, the tester does not have the correct information about the organization network, so it depends on public information to know more about the target and use penetration tests.

Double-Blind Testing:

Less number of people in the company may be aware of this testing. The IT staff are uninformed about the testing, so they are blind to the already planned strategies in the organization.

Targeted Testing:

Targeted testing or light turned on approach involves both IT and testing teams. Here, the testing strategies and information about the target need to be found. This testing needs minimum time as compared to blind tests. But did not deliver perfect security vulnerability regarding organizations’ security.

5 phases of Penetration Testing

The pen testing process starts with the stimulated attack. Professionals will study the whole system to find out the strength and weaknesses and should plan strategies accordingly. They can learn more and perform penetration processes using the proper testing tool. Testing tools and design play an essential role in this process.

The pen testing process has mainly 5 phases of testing, as below:

  • Planning and reconnaissance
  • Scanning
  • Gaining Access
  • Maintaining access
  • Analysis and Reporting

Planning and reconnaissance

Planning and reconnaissance are the first steps of the pen testing process. Moreover, it involves planning to simulate an attack. The attack is managed so that it can collect all the required information on the system.

This is the most time-consuming phase of penetration testing. Ethical hackers inspect the whole system and note down the issues and vulnerabilities that can breach the organization’s system. Further, the information searching will start from employee name, address, and email ids to the IP address with many other things. It will depend on the information type and how the investigation is needed according to the objectives set. Similarly, network scanning and social gathering are the important methodologies included in this process.


Scanning involves exploring the system and network weakness in the organization. In short, it depends on the planning phase, which requires the tester to consider before scanning. In other words, the scanning phase requires tools to explore and discover the exploited attacks’ weaknesses. Meanwhile, this phase Is crucial as it will define the success of the following phases.

Gaining Access

We understood the system’s vulnerability and weaknesses from the above two phases. In this phase, we need to check how deep they attempt to exploit the Organization system. However, by gaining system access, it is possible to understand the level of the target environment.

Maintaining access

This stage aims to check whether the vulnerability is used to access the system. Therefore, the professionals can maintain access to hold the simulated attack for an extended period. Hence, this is enough to know and replicate a malicious hacker’s aim.

As a result, this phase is critical as we will discuss what this security breach could mean to our users. To clarify, we will try to capture as much network information as possible in this stage.

Analysis and Reporting

Analysis and Reporting is the last phase of penetration testing. It provides the result of the pen testing. Here, testers deliver the finalized report about the whole penetration testing process. Moreover, the details appear are:

  • Firstly, the amount of risk comes out from the vulnerabilities discovered.
  • Secondly, tools that help to penetrate the system
  • Thirdly, description Of how security can implement correctly.
  • Lastly, how to prevent future attacks. In detail information.

Types of Penetration Testing

The types of penetration testing include the following:

  • Network Services
  • Web Application
  • Client Side
  • Wireless
  • Social Engineering
  • Physical Penetration Testing

Every penetration test type requires proper knowledge of methodologies and tools to perform testing. In the same vein, it has a specific business goal, so it needs complete understanding.

Network Service Penetration Testing

Network service is the most common pen testing type. This testing aims to identify vulnerabilities and security weakness that occurs in an organization’s network. The network infrastructure contains servers, firewalls, routers, etc., that can exploit by attackers. Similarly, network services tests require to secure a business from network-based attackers. Further, the network-based attacks include:

  • Firewall Misconfiguration and Firewall Bypass
  • IPS/IDS Evasion Attacks
  • Router Attacks
  • DNS Level Attacks

Web Application Penetration Testing

Web application pen testing requires discovering issues and weaknesses in the web-based application. Also, it can identify problems in different components like database, the back-end network, and source code. Therefore, this testing is considered the best practice while developing any software application.

Client-Side Penetration Testing

As a user, everybody wants a security feature for their network. Hence client-side pen testing helps an organization identify issues in the client-side network. In addition, this testing includes attackers like:

  • Cross-Site Scripting Attacks
  • Clickjacking Attacks
  • Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)
  • Form Hijacking
  • HTML Injection

Wireless Penetration Testing

Wireless pen testing helps an organization examine the connections between all the devices in the same business Wi-Fi. Devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc., are connected to the network. However, wireless testing is done in the organization itself as it requires to be in the range of their wireless signal to perform testing.

Social Engineering Penetration Testing

We need to check for malicious attackers who can trick users into providing sensitive data like usernames and passwords in this testing. Therefore, the most common types of attacks include:

  • Phishing Attacks
  • Vishing
  • Smishing
  • Tailgating

Physical Penetration Testing

Physical penetration testing helps to simulate real-world threats. Moreover, a pen tester tries to identify the physical barriers to gaining business data, building, etc. Physical barriers such as cameras, locks, sensors, etc., can be checked to get exposed attackers.


In conclusion, this article’s detailed information will help you with insights and opportunities to improve network infrastructure security. The 5 phases of penetration testing will help on how you can remediate the security weaknesses identified during the process.

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