What is a penetration test?

A penetration test, often referred to as a “pen test” or “ethical hacking,” is a type of cybersecurity assessment that involves simulating a cyber attack on a computer system, network, application, or other digital asset in order to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could be exploited by malicious hackers. The purpose of a penetration test is to proactively assess the security of a system and identify potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by real attackers.

Penetration testing typically involves a team of skilled security professionals, often referred to as “ethical hackers” or “penetration testers,” who use a combination of automated tools and manual techniques to attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in the target system. This may include attempting to gain unauthorized access, privilege escalation, data exfiltration, or other attack scenarios, depending on the scope and objectives of the penetration test.

Once vulnerabilities are identified, the penetration testers provide detailed reports to the system owner or administrator, outlining the vulnerabilities discovered, their potential impact, and recommendations for mitigating or remediating them. This allows the system owner to take appropriate measures to address the identified vulnerabilities and improve the security of their system.

Penetration testing is a crucial component of a comprehensive cybersecurity program and is often required for compliance with industry regulations or standards. It helps organizations identify and address vulnerabilities in their systems proactively, improve their overall security posture, and protect against potential cyber attacks.