Penetration testing can help fortify online and offline data security, strengthen system stability and improve user privacy protocols. This is the process of simulating likely user behavior and specific user activities in platforms with weak network security ports, high-risk system protocols, user privacy exploits, and potentially vulnerable access points. These simulated test cases are performed across target computer networks, online or offline databases, operating systems, third party applications or standalone devices and electronic equipment.

Penetration Testing VS Vulnerability Testing

Penetration testing is different from vulnerability testing. The former is used to implement specific test cases of existing bugs and vulnerabilities for possible security breaches and covert data access. The latter is on the other hand done to discover vulnerabilities and bugs.

For example, penetration tests are initially performed to observe how certain malicious programs are designed to exploit known vulnerabilities and bugs in specific test cases. Results are then logged and re-tested to verify if these exploits were successful in infiltrating the target network, system, and device, or in carrying out their programmed operations across these platforms.

Vulnerability tests are on the other hand carried out to identify unknown security breaches and potential access points. For example, these vulnerability tests are helpful in identifying possible backdoor entry points of malicious programs and hacking rootkits that can potentially expose the network, OS, software product or hardware device to information theft, data loss and corruption, user privacy risks and other possible exploits.

Why Implement Penetration Testing Procedures?

The main objective of penetration testing is to simulate likely user behavior and possible user activity in target platforms with vulnerabilities, bugs and implemented exploits. This is to streamline the creation of new and improved solutions for preventing possible security breaches, malware infiltration, system stability issues, user privacy risks, data loss and corruption in these specific test cases. These solutions can include new or additional configurations for network ports, the introduction of additional code and security protocols to device-specific platforms, and the distribution of updates or improved versions of third party applications, user privacy tools and firmware components of hardware devices.

Who Can Do Penetration Tests?

This can be performed by network administrators, Webmasters, system security specialists, usability testers and third party software product developers or hardware device manufacturers. Certain resources are helpful in cost-effectively conducting penetration testing procedures. Here are some resources designed for beginner to intermediate penetration testers:

Test Websites and Systems

The test websites below can allow you to practice your penetration testing skills legally. These sites are deliberately designed with common vulnerabilities and bugs so you can hone your penetration skills to your heart’s content!

  1. Bricks – OWASP.Org designed this PHP site with a MySQL database. This allows penetration testers to practice their AppSec skills and perform specific test cases with their online scanning engines. There are certain vulnerabilities that are built into the components of this Web app, which are called “bricks.” These include content pages, login pages, and file upload pages. These are integrated with common backdoors and vulnerabilities.
  2. DVWA – Practice your penetration testing skills when it comes to cross-platform scripts, captcha-bypassing bots, SQL injections and malware executions by heading over to DVWA.Co.UK. These vulnerabilities are built into this site. DVWA stands for Damn Vulnerable Web Application, and this site was built using PHP and MySQL.
  3. Google Gruyere – Head on over to Google-Gruyere.AppSpot.Com to learn about the different ways hackers use to locate security vulnerabilities. This site was built for beginners and modest penetration testers. Through this site, you can also learn the variety of methods that are used by hackers to exploit common vulnerabilities and the things that you can implement to thwart these exploits.

Now, found below is a list of downloadable systems that can help hone your penetration testing skills. Some of these also offer Web-based platform editions. Many of these have free and demo versions:

  1. ExploitMe Mobile Android Labs – This platform was developed by SecurityCompass for penetration testers who want to practice their skills across various Android system versions. In this platform, you can simulate hacker attacks against common vulnerabilities in the Android OS. These include encryption and manipulation methods for mobile traffic parameters, the deployment of screen-locking applications with password protection functions, the exploitation of file system access-granting privileges, login hacks and so on.
  2. DVIA – Go to DamnVulnerableiOSApp.Com if you want to practice your penetration testing skills across iOS platforms versions 7 and above. DVIA stands for Damn Vulnerable iOS App, and this platform allows you to test hacking procedures and exploit deployment methods that are commonly implemented by criminal syndicates across iOS devices.
  3. bWAPP – This system can be downloaded from ITSecGames.Com. bWAPP stands for buggy Web Application and offers penetration testers with the ability to simulate test cases for more than 100 bugs, vulnerabilities and security loopholes from the top 10 list of OWASP.

Ethical Hacking Training – Resources (InfoSec)

Free and Trial / Demo Versions of OS’s and Software

Penetration testing is also helpful in simulating test cases for common vulnerabilities and security breaches in the code of certain free or demo OS versions and software products. Many criminal syndicates and hackers inject malicious code into downloadable installers of these products. These are then distributed across the Web, primarily through widely used torrent sites, popular freeware or shareware download repositories and heavily trafficked crack sites or warez platforms.

Once these injected exploits initialize in a user’s target platform or device, these hackers can gain access to report logs with stolen personal details, financial information, social media credentials, etc. These malicious applications can also grant stealth access to these hackers into the user’s compromised device.

With the right penetration testing procedures for these free or demo versions of widely used OS versions and software products, application developers and network administrators can develop solutions for thwarting these threats. Penetration testers can also help improve certain security standards across relevant networks and users within their organizations through these penetration testing methods for these free or demo versions of their target OS versions and software products.

What Are Bug Bounty Programs?

A cost-effective way for performing penetration testing procedures across your online and offline networks, software products, and hardware devices is to offer bug bounty programs. This gives you the chance to invite as many hackers and InfoSec specialists as you want to simulate penetration test cases in your target networks, platforms, and devices.

A bug bounty program is where you offer some sort of remuneration to hackers and InfoSec specialists who find certain test cases where known vulnerabilities and bugs in your target networks or platforms have been successfully compromised by widespread exploits. This gives you the opportunity to have many penetration testers and InfoSec specialists launching simultaneous attacks against the platforms, applications, and devices that you want to test.

Conclusion

Penetration testing resources are helpful in honing your relevant skills, and also in ensuring that you keep pace with the perpetually changing world of information security. This is made quick and easy with all the free and reasonably priced penetration tester practice software platforms in the market today.

If you need to run frequent large-scale penetration tests on your networks, products, and devices, then bug bounty programs can help you save time and money. If you’re a freelance penetration tester, then you can even earn some money through the many bug bounty programs out there. Plus, you do this while helping other organizations in strengthening the security protocols of their products and networks.

SOURCES

http://www.tns.com/PenTestvsVScan.asp

15 Vulnerable Sites To (Legally) Practice Your Hacking Skills

37 Powerful Penetration Testing Tools For Every Penetration Tester

http://www.cio.com/article/2383927/outsourcing/how-bug-bounty-programs-bring-big-savings-and-better-security.html