Modern entrepreneurs should pay their attention not only to financial, organizational, and promotional aspects of their business development and functioning but also to its informational security. In a lot of cases, the importance of this aspect is neglected until a first serious attack. This danger is topical for small local businesses and for large international corporations. The managers and directors of both categories are usually sure that they have no reasons to worry about cyberattacks.
An owner of a small business might think that nobody is interested in their affairs while major entrepreneurs are confident in their security department. In the first case, it is important to understand that black hat hackers might steal a lot of various information, and even if the income of a local business is minor, there is always information about the clients, banking accounts, and financial operations. In a second case, even a group of professional programmers or security engineers who are responsible for the company’s security cannot usually predict all the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the information system. Thus, a security audit should become an important part of each business development plan.
To understand if penetration testing is really needed, it is necessary to determine the essence of this service and its difference from the other ones in this sphere. Description of penetration testing for a website might seem to be rather awkward: it is the attack of a hacker who wants to find vulnerabilities and receive access to the information without authorization. Who might want to pay for it?
There are so many black hat hackers nowadays, they will perform it for free and with great enthusiasm! At the same time, there is a great difference between these kinds of attacks, as a service of web penetration testing is not aimed to steal your information, money, and data, it is conducted by a professional white hat hacker who is testing an information system to evaluate the risks that will take place is black hat hackers start their attack. It is impossible to predict whether black hat hackers will be interested in attacking an application or website related to your business, it is impossible to prevent their attack. The only way to be ready is to check the website carefully, and it can be done only by professional hackers who can determine the way how criminals will act.
In some way, a primary task of a white hat hacker who performs web application security testing is similar to profiling that is utilized by the FBI, the only difference is that testing prevents potential penetration. Sounds like real science fiction, but this service is real and available for all entrepreneurs who do not want to suffer from any attacks on their websites and applications. Even if a website used to be checked by means of vulnerability scanning conducted automatically, it is rather challenging to determine which weaknesses are the most critical in case of a possible future attack. Web penetration testing might be rather time-consuming, but it will guarantee an appropriate security level.
Methodologies of web application pentesting are similar to the ways of treatment, all of them are written in the books and manuals for doctors, but their utilizing varies because of the individual features of a patient. The same can be related to a website, as even the most common methods are modified by the white hat hackers to receive the most effective result. There are several phases that determine the success of web penetration testing if they are conducted in the right way and right order.
Each white hat hacker has to evaluate the scope of web application penetration testing before a first attack. In fact, a scope will determine priorities, time spent for testing, and, what is specifically important, a budget. If a customer does not want a total and full testing but would like to pay attention to some specific aspects of website functioning, it should be considered by a hacker.
Also, at this stage, it is important for a tester to understand all the data and documents that are available and to request them. To determine the right understanding of how to pentest a website of a customer, a tester should be provided with all the needed material, otherwise, it makes a little sense. The most important information is related to the firewalls and security protocols not to make a tester spend additional time defining them. The stage of gathering information can determine the final success of the whole process.
A tester can be situated anywhere, a physical presence in the organization is not required at all. The main condition that should be taken into account is following the plan that was agreed during a stage of planning, try the access of different users, and prepare a clear and accurate report related to the results of attacks.
A tester should prepare a list of recommendations related to the results of the testing, and they should include the ways to deal with the most critical vulnerabilities. Concerning the rest of them, a tester should recommend the next testing. The most important aspect of the final stage is cleanup. All the results of the external attacks should be removed to make sure that the website if fully protected all the issues of its security are addressed. Only after the final report with recommendation is finished, penetration testing can be defined as successful.
Each tester has its own favorite tools applied in the process of web penetration testing, and it is appropriate to select several ones that are commonly used and approved by the majority of professionals in this sphere.
Responder – for the admirers of the Linux operation system and beginners who are only trying penetration testing.
PowerShell – a command line for system administrators created especially for Windows and easy to learn.
Hashcat – a tool that is used for cracking hashes and passwords recovery that is compatible with any operating system and should be used by white hat hackers.
These tools will work appropriately only in combination with skills, understanding of the processes, and the right access to the website that should be provided by the customer. A common user who does not have a needed qualification will not be able to use them in an effective way.
Web penetration testing that is performed by a professional white hat hacker will provide a customer with a full idea about a topical stage of a website and the issues of it that should be addressed in the nearest time. It should be conducted exclusively by professionals who have an appropriate certification and are capable of creating an individual approach with the consideration of website specificities. This aspect of business development worth spending time and resources as if your customers lose their money once because of your carelessness, it will be rather difficult to restore a reputation of a business.