Penetration testing (PenTest) is a method of testing and evaluating the security of a computer network by simulating an attack from an outside malicious user (Unauthorized user) and malicious insiders (Someone with some level of authority to connect to the network). The process can range from a fully automated inexpensive process to a set of complex, labor intensive activities that focus on an entire organizations infrastructure to identify areas of concern. The main and most important difference from a PenTest vs. a hacker is permission. The PenTester will have permssion from the owner or manager of the computing resource being analyzed.
Penetration testing is the process of attempting to gain access to resources without knowledge of usernames,passwords and other normal means of access. If the focus is on computer resources, then examples of a successful penetration would be obtaining or subverting confidential documents, pricelists,databases and other protected information. Some penetration testers are contracted to find one hole, but in many cases, they are expected to keep looking past the first hole so that additional vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed. It is important for the pen-tester to keep detailed notes about how the tests were done so that the results can be verified and so that any issues that were uncovered can be resolved.
There are two reasons why you might want to conduct a penetration test. One, you want to know whether a certain vulnerability is present because you're going to fix it if it is. And two, you need a big, scary report to persuade your boss to spend more money. If neither is true, I'm going to save you a lot of money by giving you this free penetration test: You're vulnerable.
Now, go do something useful about it.
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