The cost and effort of securing a network against data breach pale in comparison to the cost and effort of cleaning up after a breach.
Thus, conducting a VAPT should be prioritised to protect an organisation's data and information assets.
Benefit of VAPT
A shift to a more proactive approach to protecting data and the organisational infrastructure has become a necessity. This perspective will help to reduce risks and the high costs associated with recovering from a security and data breach.
To be proactive, an organisation needs to acknowledge and accept that certain myths continue to put their data and information assets at risk. Some of the myths include that an organisation assume secured because:
A hacker is not interested in breaching the organisation's infrastructure because it is not well-known.
The organisation has not experienced a breach in a long time or has never experienced any intrusion.
The organisation uses the firewall and has up-to-date endpoint security systems.
Process how we do it.
1. Planning and reconnaissance
The first stage involves:
Defining the scope and goals of a test, including the systems to be addressed and the testing methods to be used.
Gathering intelligence (e.g., network and domain names, mail server) to better understand how a target works and its potential vulnerabilities.
The next step is to understand how the target application will respond to various intrusion attempts. This is typically done using:
Static analysis - Inspecting an application's code to estimate the way it behaves while running. These tools can scan the entirety of the code in a single pass.
Dynamic analysis - Inspecting an application's code in a running state. This is a more practical way of scanning, as it provides a real-time view into an application's performance.
3. Gaining access
This stage uses web application attacks, such as cross-site scripting, SQL injection and backdoors, to uncover a target's vulnerabilities. Testers then try and exploit these vulnerabilities, typically by escalating privileges, stealing data, intercepting traffic, etc., to understand the damage they can cause.
4. Maintaining access
The goal of this stage is to see if the vulnerability can be used to achieve a persistent presence in the exploited system long enough for a bad actor to gain in-depth access. The idea is to imitate advanced persistent threats, which often remain in a system for months in order to steal an organization's most sensitive data.
The results of the penetration test are then compiled into a report detailing:
Specific vulnerabilities that were exploited
Sensitive data that was accessed
The amount of time the pen tester was able to remain in the system undetected
This information is analyzed by security personnel to help configure an enterprise's WAF settings and other application security solutions to patch vulnerabilities and protect against future attacks.