Penetration testing and ethical hacking are both important aspects of the cybersecurity domain. Even though the role of penetration tester and ethical hacker share some similarities, these are two entirely different fields. Both ethical hacking and penetration testing helps to identify IT systems’ vulnerabilities and help in preventing different cyberattacks.
People usually confuse both due to some similarities between ethical hacking and penetration testing. We will describe each of these in detail to let you better understand things in this regard.
So, here we go:
Ethical hacking is a type of hacking that the owner approves of a target system. This hacking approach is motivated by moral and ethical values instead of harmful intent.
The practice is essential to put proactive security practices to guard against malicious attacks by unauthorized access.
Over time, ethical hacking has become a familiar and preferred approach to analyzing the security systems and practices of the company. A certified ethical hacker combines red teaming, security judgments, vulnerability assessment, and intrusion testing.
There exist different types of hackers that, include:
· Black hat hackers: These are skilled hackers who take advantage of a system’s vulnerabilities and gain access to it for financial gain.
· White hat hackers are ethical hackers who enter a target environment for penetration testing and system vulnerability assessments. These hackers never intend to harm a system; instead help organizations learn about vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity system.
· Gray hat hackers: These hackers try to get into system vulnerabilities to gain rewards or gratitude from the organization.
Ethical hacking is beneficial for organizations to test their security solutions. The approach helps keep the systems safe from black hat hackers. Due to hacking assaults becoming common, ethical hacking has been becoming an in-demand skill.
The approach helps in protecting sensitive information and users’ data from malicious users, advertisers, and more. These practices can help organizations to protect their data from extortion by those who want to exploit a weakness.
Overall, trained, ethical hackers can be a core strength of an organization’s secure cybersecurity systems. They can help in everything from detecting software flaws to helping organizations to correct abnormalities in their security system.
Penetration testing is a security test in which a certified and professional penetration tester assesses an organization's cyber security defenses and strengths. The process is usually based on an organization’s on-site security audit, which an ethical hacker launches to test an organization's security infrastructure.
This offensive security testing form offers an in-depth, technical analysis of vulnerabilities of a target environment to attack and exploit.
The process goes beyond automated techniques and basic risk assessments. The entire process depends upon the expertise of a professional and skilled penetration tester. The tester follows a test process to conduct a simulated, authorized attack to evaluate security.
Typically, every penetration test is different. However, each of these follows the following methodology:
Here penetration tester will identify as much info about the target environment as possible. They will use multiple available sources for this purpose, including mailing lists, DNS, search engines, and more.
The penetration tester will also utilize vulnerability and port scanner to identify and fingerprint the environment's open ports and services. They will also determine the potential vulnerabilities in these services.
The penetration tester will then conduct manual and automated testing to investigate in-scope apps. The tester can also utilize provided credentials for emulating an authorized user.
The security vulnerabilities that the tester detected during penetration testing will be exploited to identify their scope and impact. The tester can also use the advantage to penetrate the environment further.
At the end of this procedure, the penetration tester will provide a detailed report that includes all the findings regarding founded and validated vulnerabilities. Every vulnerability will be listed with a severity rank and level compared to other vulnerabilities they discovered in the target environment.
Besides that, the tester will also include the impact description of every vulnerability and recommendations on how to remediate the vulnerability.
Overall, both ethical hacking and penetration testing are important to improve the strength of any organization’s cybersecurity approach. Ethical hacking is a broader term that covers every aspect of cybersecurity. On the other hand, penetration is a testing approach that helps identify a security system's vulnerabilities.