Social engineering, which is the act of gaining unauthorized access to an individual’s or company’s online data, is today more rampant than ever before. While companies are doing all they can to try and minimize the extent of this phenomenon, social engineers are also learning up several different strategies and methods to gain access to organizations. One of the most effective methods companies can use to tackle this problem is by using pentesting. In this article, we study the process of pentesting and how a pentester can effectively help combat the social engineering menace.
What is Pentesting?
Pentesting or penetration technique is a method whereby supposedly secure systems can be tested for security vulnerabilities. Pentesting had a somewhat bleak reputation in the past, but with the changing times and technology of the present, it has evolved to emerge as a most useful device to test office security. Now, using advanced pentesting techniques, you can get a good idea as to how a hacker’s mind may function while gaining access into your company’s data systems.
The highly advanced pentesting systems in existence today can give you amazingly accurate results, provided of course, that it is performed by a trained professional whose knowledge on this process is very thorough.
Sometimes, pentesters are contracted to find just one security loophole in the system. However, most of them are hired to keep searching for and fixing newer vulnerabilities as and when they arise. This is why it is vital for the pentester to take down detailed notes of all the tests performed and systematically file the results of each of these tests.
Pentesting is an immensely responsible job, which can put a lot of stress on the professional tester. Here is what you can do to enhance your own performance as a pentester:
Do Your Homework in Advance
As a pentester, you should always keep abreast of the latest trends and techniques of using software exploits. Thankfully, many social engineering toolkits that are available to you today do not require the use of exploits – they use more legitimate methods to work with the various office systems. In any case, prepare well in advance of your particular project and make it a point to study the techniques built into the toolkit that you use.
Also look into the company structure and study in detail how it functions, much before actually performing pentesting on its systems. Learn everything about the company’s ways of working, its branches and sister concerns, the social and business networks it uses, the software versions that it uses and so on.
Gathering as much information as you can, earlier on, may help you plug security holes later. So glean as much information as you possibly can, well in advance of your testing.
Educate the Company Employees
When you do find a security flaw, it becomes your duty not only plug and fix it, but also to let employees know about the same, educating them about the ways and means to avoid this problem the next time round. As a pentester, you should teach employees to identify potential security threats, thereby preventing the possibility of such future attacks.
Be careful never belittle the company management or the employees for having made themselves vulnerable to attack. Instead, let them know that it is perfectly natural to fall for these strategies, while also training them to recognize such threats in future.
Your approach to coaching the company on security has to be serious and strictly educational in nature. A company management would never find it amusing to make a joke of itself in public. Hence, follow a serious teaching pattern and focus only on tutoring the company.
Work to Enrich Your Own Knowledge
Once you are through with pentesting, you should not only inform the company and employees of its security vulnerabilities, but also learn from the entire experience of it. Each business establishment is unique and poses different issues at various levels. Study each of these companies and maintain records of the same, so that it becomes a learning experience for you each and every time.
Think about the things you may have left out while pentesting the last time and keep track of your own performance. Gradually, you will be able to expand your knowledge of the subject and will be able to tackle future projects more efficiently and in lesser time.
Pentesting is a long and tedious profession, which can also prove to be highly rewarding, both in terms of finance and satisfaction. Working on the above aspects would go a long way in helping you help a company with its security issues.