Network penetration testing is an authorized attempt to hack into a computer network or infrastructure to identify security vulnerabilities and risks.
Usually, security experts perform the tests to safely find and exploit network weaknesses, such as open ports, exposed data, weak cryptography, and passwords. Penetration testing also uncovers misconfigurations, poor privilege controls, unpatched operating systems, and other system vulnerabilities.
Ideally, it is important to regularly assess the security and get a holistic view of the entire network, operating systems, applications, devices, and other assets.
Towards this, you can perform internal network penetration testing and external network penetration testing. This means launching attacks from within the organization’s network, intranet, or outside, such as from the internet, other networks, WI- FI, and other sources.
Why is Network Penetration Testing Important?
The security assessment helps to identify flaws attackers can exploit and compromise the network, infrastructure, data, and other resources. It checks a wide range of assets and services, including perimeter security compliance with various industry and standard regulations and validating existing security solutions and practices.
Other benefits include:
Identify and resolve security vulnerabilities attackers can exploit on the network components, services, configurations, applications, and other resources.
Discovering assets with the most vulnerabilities – enabling the organization to prioritize them.
Identifying the security flaws and potential impact if attackers exploit.
Helps the organization to assess its network and infrastructure and consequently take action where necessary to meet audit as well as industry and legal compliance requirements.
Gain and maintain the trust of users and customers.
Top Network Penetration Testing Solutions
The choice of a network penetration testing solution varies from one organization to the other, depending on requirements, type of infrastructure, objective, in-house skills, and other factors.
With the market full of products, we have compiled a list of the top network penetration testing tools to help you narrow down to what best suits your unique requirements.
Intruder Vanguard is an effective penetration testing service that enables teams to identify and address various security weaknesses. The hybrid vulnerability scanner offers wide coverage backed by highly skilled on-demand security professionals.
Additionally, the web-based service provides continuous checking and intelligence-driven investigations, making accurate assessments and ensuring teams do not miss anything.
Enables organizations to perform comprehensive vulnerability scanning of the infrastructure. It also has an automatic scanning that you can schedule to run at the preferred intervals.
Provides continuous monitoring of your infrastructure, enabling you to detect and quickly respond to all threats, including zero-day vulnerabilities. The service is backed by highly experienced Intruder professionals who act quickly to address any detected risk.
Excellent and highly experienced on-demand security professionals to respond when in-house teams cannot adequately respond to a threat.
Integrates manual vulnerability checks to identify and remove reported threats that cannot be exploited or are false positives.
Easily integrates with productivity tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and others.
It requires improvement in filtering the discovered vulnerabilities. It lacks the ability to pick and resolve an individual vulnerability. It would be great to resolve a vulnerability and validate the fix without re-running the entire test.
It may take a long time to complete scanning and also slow some machines during the test. It does not have the ability to pause and resume scans, which can be useful when servers are overloaded.
Astra Pentest is an intelligent vulnerability scanner backed by highly skilled security experts. A great tool that enables you to discover and address vulnerabilities by providing comprehensive coverage and a step-by-step guide on addressing discovered security weaknesses.
Additionally, it has a user-friendly management dashboard that enables security teams, CXOs, Astra’s security experts, and other stakeholders to collaborate seamlessly.
Clear and actionable step-by-step instructions on addressing threats discovered in your IT infrastructure.
A CXO-friendly dashboard that enables you to track the scan progress, prioritize, and address critical vulnerabilities faster.
The intelligent scanner uses historical pentest data to build a profile that addresses your unique IT environment and threats.
Real-time and great support from highly skilled security experts.
It provides automated and manual vulnerability scanning while allowing you to scan the network perimeter and re-run tests to ensure you have resolved the vulnerabilities adequately.
Provides continuous and intelligent-driven scanning and has an always-evolving security engine based on new CVEs and hacks
Provides an industry-recognized and trusted certificate – enabling you to easily meet GDPR, HIPAA ISO 27001, SOC2, and other compliance requirements.
Comprehensive scans can take a long time to complete, and this may delay some crucial services within the organization. There may be some false positives at times, and these require more time to verify manually.
It does not support exporting a report for an individual vulnerability. Although not such a big problem, it would be good to integrate Astra with popular instant messaging tools such as Telegram, Teams, Slack, and others instead of just email.
Target Defense is an advanced network and infrastructure penetration testing tool that offers both automated scanning and human insights.
Provides a comprehensive security vulnerability scanning to help you strengthen your security posture. During the exercise, the Target Defense penetration testers often simulate authorized attacks using technologies and tools similar to those used by real attackers.
Internal and external penetration testing to provide security teams with complete visibility of all the vulnerabilities
Has flexible payment plans with competitive prices that make it suitable for all sizes of organizations
Has a modern, easy-to-use dashboard that enables teams to prioritize vulnerability scanning and fixing.
Provides a continuous, automated scanning necessary to quickly detect and address any detected vulnerability.
The comprehensive penetration testing platform helps security teams detect and fix a wide range of security flaws before real attackers find and exploit them.
Defensecom is a comprehensive network penetration testing platform that enables you to perform vulnerability scanning of the infrastructure, networks, cloud, applications, and other assets. The comprehensive pentest solution combines various testing packages, and you can customize it to address your current needs.
Enables running simulated phishing attacks and determining security awareness training needs for employees.
Remediation assistance upon discovering security vulnerabilities.
Detailed assessment report including a list of critical threats on software and hardware resources.
Actionable reports and details for each discovered vulnerability.
Threat prioritization, log monitoring, and real-time data to improve vulnerability management.
Excellent support from Defensecom’s highly skilled, experienced security experts.
You can choose specific tests for the infrastructure, applications, authentication, Office 365, or other individual services or resources. Additionally, you can choose targeted penetration testing, which is an exhaustive penetration testing targeting the organization. This involves launching various simulated attacks on the organization’s network and infrastructure.
vPenTest is an efficient, feature-rich, and affordable automated penetration testing solution that performs various hacking activities on an organization’s network.
To demonstrate what a real attacker would do, the vPenTest goes ahead and exploits the identified vulnerabilities. For example, testers can use the scalable tool to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks, find unprotected sensitive data, crack passwords, impersonate users, or exploit other identified security flaws.
Benefits of vPenTest
Efficient, faster, and consistent penetration testing tool based on an ever-evolving proprietary framework.
Provides an affordable and comprehensive penetration test with detailed, actionable reports.
Flexible monthly or on-demand scheduling for internal or external network penetration testing.
Allows you to monitor the vulnerability scanning progress and alerts in real-time.
Conduct pre-breach and post-breach simulations either from within or from outside the network.
Clear, detailed assessment reports with step-by-step instructions on how to resolve detected vulnerabilities.
Allows for segmented penetration testing to assess the security and effectiveness of the isolated sensitive networks.
Though the platform meets almost all penetration testing needs for all types of businesses, some advanced users may require some issues addressed.
The alerts are mainly on email. It could be more convenient if the platform with other instant business tools such as Slack and Teams.
The dashboard is simple and easy to use for everyone, including users with average technical skills. However, it lacks some advanced customization options skilled admins would like to use to tailor the scanning to suit their unique or complex IT environments.
BreachLock is a comprehensive vulnerability scanning service that combines AI and human insights. The scalable penetration testing service is available as a Pen Testing-as-a-Service (PTaaS).
The tool combines automation, human hackers, and artificial intelligence to provide a comprehensive and accurate penetration testing service.
Delivered as Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS), the Breachlock pen testing enables organizations to quickly and cost-effectively perform advanced vulnerability scanning and validate their security and compliance requirements.
Scalable with cost-effective on-demand or annual subscriptions.
Allows testers to track the scanning progress online and also obtain real-time results
Organizations can also choose between continuous or one-time penetration testing.
It is an easy-to-use and excellent platform to improve your organization’s IT security.
Friendly and highly experienced support team who can help in the setup and also in resolving identified vulnerabilities.
BreachLock enables organizations to gain valuable insights regarding their security and vulnerabilities. The Pentest tool helps them to address the issues, prevent potential threats, and comply with HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, SOC 2, and other regulatory requirements.
Automating some tests on some assets may lead to some issues. However, once identified, the Breachlock experts can resolve them. Need to provide additional options to download scan vulnerability reports.
The tests come with a free vulnerability scan. However, you can only run it once per month. Cost can be high for multiple licenses.
CYBRI network penetration testing platform is an effective network and infrastructure pentest solution that scans a wide range of assets.
On-demand network and infrastructure penetration testing solution conducted by CYBRI’s red team members. Besides the on-demand plans, organizations can subscribe to annual plans or increase the frequency of the pentests to ensure regular assessments and opportunities to discover emerging threats.
Conducts a discovery to ensure coverage of all assets and resources using the most appropriate team.
Upon discovery of a flaw, CYBRI’s red team uses the platform to collaborate quickly and seamlessly with your organization’s teams on how to address the issues.
Clear, easy-to-understand, and shareable report for each completed test.
Rescan the network and infrastructure after remediating discovered issues.
Besides the network and security protocols, the PTaaS (Penetration Testing as a Service) platform checks all the other assets, including overall security configurations, operating systems updates and patching, web servers, apps, and other components.
Packetlabs is a powerful network and infrastructure penetration testing tool that accurately detects security vulnerabilities in your environment. It provides a comprehensive security solution combining Infrastructure Penetration Testing and Objective-Based Penetration Test (OBPT). After the scanning, you get detailed reports that enable you to resolve the flaws and protect your environment.
Provides infrastructure penetration testing that assesses the IT and network systems to identify security vulnerabilities.
Checks authentication vulnerabilities such as weak passwords and policies
Verify the security of all the critical and sensitive data and resources while checking the potential impact of unauthorized access to exposed assets
Perform vulnerability scanning for network systems, including the legacy ports and protocols attackers exploit to gain unauthorized access and privileges.
Check for insecure configurations in the network infrastructure, cloud, applications, and other resources.
It would be great to have the option to schedule some resource-intensive scanning to run after working hours. Need to update the client about scanning activities and the scope of the network assets.
Key Features of a Penetration Testing Tool
The network penetration testing tools available in the market differ in features, cost, support, and other factors. On the other hand, organizations require certain features to meet their unique requirements and objectives.
That said, there are some basic features that you should look for in a network penetration testing solution. Besides affordability, scalability, ease-of-use, and great support, other factors to consider include:
Ability to perform internal and external penetration testing
On-demand vulnerability scanning service.
Provide vulnerability scanning reports, preferably actionable results with step-by-step instructions on how to resolve issues.
Vendors who can provide on-demand professional support to resolve issues in-house teams cannot fix.
Real-time vulnerability scanning activity monitoring, reporting, and analysis.
A product that offers both automated and manual penetration testing and comprehensive coverage.
How Penetration Testing Works?
During network penetration testing, the security expert or ethical hacker scans the IT infrastructure for security flaws that a real attacker would exploit and gain unauthorized access. Upon detecting these, the ethical hacker may simulate attacks to find out the impact of such a real breach. Afterward, the expert generates a report of the assessment.
The network penetration testing can be done by either an in-house or external service provider team. However, in most cases, both teams collaborate when conducting the tests, and the external experts may provide the step-by-step remediation procedures where necessary.
Additionally, the organization can outsource the entire service, especially when the in-house security team does not have much expertise in the detection and resolution of modern threats.
Steps in Network Penetration Testing
The steps and methods of performing the network penetration tests may vary from one organization to the other. However, below are some of the common activities of network penetration testing.
Planning: This involves establishing the scope and objective of the penetration testing, platform to use, assets to test, success metrics, etc. It also involves assigning a team or individual to act as an ethical or white-hat hacker.
Identify assets, operating systems, applications, and other resources with known vulnerabilities.
The testing phase is where internal or external ethical hackers launch various simulated attacks using different methods.
Depending on the plan, the organization’s security team will try to contain the threat by stopping it and investigating the cause, thinking that it is a real attack. This happens if they are unaware that it is a pentest, but it is a good way to also test the response in case of a real incident. Even if they were aware, the security team would still try to contain the attack to verify what they can do when there is a real attack.
This is followed by documentation that shows where the weaknesses are and the steps to be taken to address them and prevent future attacks. The report includes the impact if the real attackers were to exploit the weaknesses.
Resolve all the identified security vulnerabilities. Some security experts may even provide instructions on how to address the issues and improve overall security.
The organization may conduct another test after addressing the vulnerabilities to verify that they have eliminated the flaws.
Despite the benefits of network penetration testing, teams should be careful. Otherwise, poorly planned and conducted testing can cause real damage to target assets, such as servers, and result in unnecessary downtime.
Network penetration testing enables IT teams to identify and address security vulnerabilities before the real attackers find and exploit the flaws. Typical network penetration testing involves simulating real attacks to assess the security of the organization’s infrastructure.
By performing regular vulnerability scanning, organizations can continuously improve their security posture and protect themselves against current and emerging threats.