What is Penetration testing?

As the Cyber security Industry grows, so will the terminology used within the industry. This blog aims to explain what Penetration testing is, the different types of Penetration testing and how it can be beneficial towards certain businesses.


What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing uncovers weaknesses in your computer systems, networks, and applications before an attacker can take advantage. It is a security testing method used to evaluate the effectiveness of an organisation’s Cyber defences and identify its weaknesses.

A Penetration test will generate a report of discovered vulnerabilities, managed exploitations, and remediations on how to improve the Cyber security stature of an organisation. With both manual methods and automated tools available to conduct these tests – organisations looking to protect their data should consider investing in this service.

Penetration testing is a sophisticated method of discovering and exploiting vulnerabilities within an IT system. It emulates tactics used by real-world attackers to gain access and steal data, which helps organisations identify weaknesses in their Cyber security practices so they can fix them before any harm is done.

The Penetration tester begins with information gathering methods, such as reconnaissance, followed by scans that map out potential points of entry on the target network or server, exploitation if these are successful, and finally, reporting results.



To effectively penetrate a system, the first step is Reconnaissance. This involves researching the target to uncover its identity, which can be through IP addresses, domain names and other information which can be used to identify vulnerabilities. Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) is external data in the Public Domain which can be used against an individual target or a target organisation.

OSINT is identified during the Reconnaissance phase, and used in conjunction with the rest of the reconnaissance data to craft an initial overview of the target, potentially identifying unique attack vectors the Penetration Tester could employ.



The next step is scanning, which involves using tools to identify open ports, services, and other vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Scanning tools can be either manual or automated. Manual scanning involves using specialised software to identify vulnerabilities, while automated scanning uses tools to identify and assess vulnerabilities automatically.



The third step is Exploitation, which is an attempt to breach the security of a system via the channels and exploits identified during the Reconnaissance and Scanning phases. Through its scanning phase, Penetration Testers can locate weaknesses and attempt to use those as gateways for access, which could potentially lead to the exfiltration or manipulation of valuable and sensitive data.


Baseline Testing Methodologies

Penetration Testing can be performed using different Testing methodologies, including black-box, white-box, and grey-box testing.

Black-box testing is a method of evaluating systems without any insight into the inner workings. The only information given to the Tester are details such as IP addresses, domain names and other specifics relevant to target system identification.

White-box testing, on the contrary, allows full access to all elements like architecture or source code, making it possible for Testers to understand functioning from the inside out.

Grey box testing combines the advantages of both approaches – despite a lack of overall knowledge about the internal side, some parts remain accessible, making tests more comprehensive than in the case of black-box yet quicker than with the white-box approach.


Why is Penetration Testing Important?

Penetration Testing is an essential piece of the puzzle in establishing and maintaining a secure environment for any organisation. It helps identify weak spots that cybercriminals can exploit so organisations can quickly remediate them to improve their security profile.

Additionally, Penetration Testing plays a role in helping organisations meet government regulatory requirements, such as  Critical Infrastructure Cyber security Requirements through The NCSC, which mandate periodic assessments as part of their compliance processes.

Penetration Testing is an essential cyber security measure that helps protect information systems. Internal teams are often best suited to perform this task due they’re in-depth knowledge of the organisation, but external vendors can bring valuable insights for uncovering overlooked vulnerabilities and potential threats.



In conclusion, Penetration Testing is vital to any organisation’s Cyber security strategy. By simulating real-world attacks, the process can identify weaknesses an attacker could exploit and help organisations take preventative measures against cyber threats. Penetration Tests will identify the gaps in an organisation's Internal and External Cyber security and offer mitigation recommendations and remediations.

This alone will not keep an organisation secure, it will simply identify the gaps and offer advice. Bolstering this against a standard such as Cyber Essentials and the implementation of security applications such as Anti-Virus, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Vulnerability Scanner software comes as a strong recommendation for any organisation worried about Cyber security.

At Texaport, we understand the importance of these advancements and work with our clients to put a reliable system in place to improve their business efficiency. Our team has a wide range of IT knowledge and remains acquainted with the movements in the IT industry. Find out more here.


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