What Are the Main Types of Penetration Testing

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Penetration Testing helps organizations assess the security of their IT infrastructure by proactively exploiting system vulnerabilities the same way an attacker would. Organizations can simulate an actual attack in a controlled environment using ethical hacking mechanisms, gaining insights into how threat actors infiltrate the system.

By mimicking the actions of a hacker, security teams can patch up open vulnerabilities that can be potentially exploited to destabilize IT infrastructure, thereby improving the organization’s security posture. A typical penetration test involves identifying vulnerabilities that affect an application workflow.

Types of Pen Testing:

To ensure a comprehensive audit, different types of penetration testing cover specific security goals. Let’s explore these pentest types:

Penetration test graphical representation

External Penetration Testing

These pentests target IT infrastructure components that can be accessed from the internet. To do so, these tests are focused on – gaining unauthorized access to web applications, API endpoints, emails, and domain servers to extract valuable information. In short, it’s like an attack by an “ethical” hacker that runs against an organization’s external web servers, website hosting,  or devices. The goal is to determine if and how far an attacker can penetrate the system remotely.

Internal Penetration Testing

These types of pen tests are performed by security teams or authorized users simulating an attack by an insider. This is one of the most common internal manual penetration testing scenarios, which involves getting into the account of a staff/team member whose credentials are compromised due to a phishing attack. In this way, you may determine what damage can be caused by an employee who has access to the administrator rights.

Blind Penetration Testing

In such tests, the ethical hacker is only given the enterprise’s name whose systems they are testing with no background information. Also known as the closed-box penetration test, this type of penetration test provides software teams with a real-time simulation of how a malicious threat actor gains entry into the system. This type of pen testing can require considerable time for recognition; it can be costly.

Double-blind Penetration Testing

This penetration testing approach simulates an organization’s preparedness for an attack since the security team has no idea whether penetration testing has been appropriately performed. This also means that security experts have no time to leverage to strengthen their defenses before the data breach, similar to a real-life attack scenario. This type of pentesting can help test an organization’s security monitoring, incident identification, and response procedures.

Targeted Pen Testing

A commonly used penetration testing where ethical hackers and security teams work together to keep tabs on each other’s capabilities. Targeted testing offers valuable insights that provide real-time feedback on a hacker’s thought process and subsequent exploits. They are also called “lights-on,” as everyone who runs these pentests knows that it is being carried out and the start and end time for the testing.

Physical Penetration Testing

Here, cybersecurity professionals try to find “physical threats,” which means every attack that could be simulated that involves physical locations. It may include picking door locks, stealing devices, or using social engineering to convince an employee to let hackers into a server room.  

It is helpful to expose weak physical barriers and physical security vulnerabilities like secure procedures that are not being followed,  intrusion alarms not working, gaps in fences, or even checking the security guards.

Differences between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment

Penetration testing differs from vulnerability assessment as the latter offers a passive security management approach where only potential security flaws are identified. On the other hand, vulnerability assessment tools scan applications, devices, networks & physical IT infrastructure components for possible vulnerabilities and generate detailed reports.

Which Pentest Tool Should I Choose?

Crashtest Security’s team of cyber experts decided to develop software that identifies all the vulnerabilities of web apps and APIs. Thus, with a reasonable price and unmatched quality, we help small and medium companies manage their cyber security without spending too much money and with the reliability of a German company. 

What makes us different from other types of pentesting tools? First, our software has been developed for years to be the best of our competitors. We generate reports using artificial intelligence that show you the results of your automated penetration testing exactly whenever you want.

Check here for a free trial with all the functionalities included and find the full potential of this new generation of best penetration testing tools that carry the less false-positive cases within the market.

Penetration Testing Types Video Explanation

The main penetration testing types explained in a short video


What is the difference between vulnerability and weakness?

Vulnerability refers to a flaw or defect in a web application that allows malicious users to gain unauthorized access to protected resources. Weaknesses are flaws that allow authorized users to perform tasks they are not supposed to do.

A vulnerability may exist because a bug has been introduced during development or improper configuration settings. On the other hand, weaknesses are usually caused by poor programming practices, such as insufficient input validation, lack of error handling, or failure to comply with industry standards.

How do I determine what kind of security penetration testing measures my organization needs?

The first step is to determine whether you need to implement new security measures. You can start by asking yourself some basic questions about your current security practices. For example, do you have adequate physical controls such as locks on doors, alarms, and surveillance cameras? Do you require users to log in before accessing sensitive information? Do you have proper firewalls and antivirus software installed? Are employees required to change passwords regularly? Do you conduct regular audits of user accounts? These are just a few examples of things you might want to consider.