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Beginner's Guide to Penetration Testing

Since you are here to read this article,  we assume that you are already aware of the terms “hacking”, “hackers” and other words associated with unauthorised access. Penetration testing or ethical hacking is the process of attempting to gain access into target resources and perform actual attacks to find loopholes in the system and measure the strength of security.In this article we will learn about penetration testing, its requirements and understand how real world ethical hackers perform hacking attacks.Penetration testing (also called pen testing) and Vulnerability Assessment are both individual activities. Vulnerability assessment is carried out to identify the vulnerability of the system or network and patch that particular vulnerability with the creation of some controls. Although the modus operandi may be similar, the motives behind hacking and penetration testing are polar opposites. Hacking is done with the intention of causing harm. It includes footprinting, attacks, gaining access, exploitation etc. And once the motive is fullfiled the hacker clears the tracks in other words, wipes the evidence. The target might not have any prior information regarding this.Penetration testing, on the other hand, is carried out with the motive of enhancing the existing security level of the system. It is carried out with the approval of top management or delegates, who provide support for the testing.  Penetration testing is the actual testing of the system by targeting and performing real attacks without having much information about the target systems. Many companies and government agencies hire penetration testers to check the strength of their security controls.UK’s National Cyber Security Center summarised pentesting in one line.”A method of gaining assurance in the security of an IT system by attempting the breach of system’s security, using some tools and techniques as an adversary might”.Types of Penetration TestingThere are 3 main type of penetration testing: 1. Black Box penetration testing Here the attackers have no prior or predefined information regarding the target. They have to perform common attacks using tools and techniques without any knowledge of the target's IP address, OS details or other information. This type of testing is called covert or Red team testing2. Grey Box Penetration Testing In this type of testing, attackers have some amount of information about the target like location, IP address, OS details, email ID etc. Based on the incomplete information at hand, they have to apply the appropriate method of attack and perform penetration testing.   3. White Box Penetration Testing.White hat testing is comparatively downright testing with full fledged information about the target, where the hacker has all required information to perform the attack. This might include IP address, OS details, known vulnerabilities, application version and so on. This is also known as overt testing or Blue Team testing. Why is Pentesting important in Hacking ?Penetration testing helps organizations to safeguard their assets and prevent loss of data and financial or other assest. It may be carried out by a variety of cyber criminals including hackers, extornists, disgruntled employees or any other undesirable elements.It also helps to check the actual implementation of compliance and find out the non-compliance in the entire system or network, which can eventually lead to big mistakes and result in business loss, heavy fines and defamation.Penetration testing helps shape your information security strategy by identifying vulnerabilities and their impacts, and defining the likelihood of future attacks, that can be mitigated proactively.Penetration testing Methodology Penetration testing is more advanced than any other form of testing. In normal testing, the tester assumes that such a scenario is unlikely to happen, wherein there’s an attempt at unauthorised access and hence might have skipped some functions.  Penetration testing on the other hand requires the tester to think of all possible scenarios of attack and act like an actual attacker to design the perfect system and get the desired result.To achieve this goal, the penetration testing process is designed in 4 major steps. 1. Planning In the planning phase, top management involvement is highly recommended. With the help of delegates, the penetration team identifies the rules, objectives and goals to perform successful penetration testing. Risk of testing, required permission to access the information systems, backup plan, alternative source allocation, required downtime etc. are carried out after discussions between the tester and client.(in case of white hat testing). Without proper planning, pentesting may lead to heavy data loss or any similar failure. It is also important to get approval from the management regarding the scope. Testing without management approval can lead to major production/business impact. The penetration tester can get fired or face legal action in some cases. 2. Target Discovery In this phase, penetration testers have to get as much  information as possible about the target. This includes but is not limited to IP address, OS, email IDs, locations, network maps etc. In major cases, OSINT framework will help the tester to get most of the open information about the target. After getting all the required information, they have to start vulnerability assessment using automated tools. Usually testers have their own database giving the details of the vulnerabilities. Once enough data has been gathered during the target discovery phase3. Exploitation This is the core process of any penetration test. In this phase, testers identify potential vulnerabilities and get those vulnerabilities verified by exploiting them. If the vulnerability actually exists, then the attack takes place successfully. This phase includes a variety of attacks like social engineering, SQL injections, implementation of the backdoors, malware attacks, phishing attacks and more. Also, the goal of this phase is to check if access can be maintained that eventually converts into privilege escalation that can keep stealing the organization’s data or keep acting as a threat for the system. Sometimes, pentesters will leave a clue on the target system that can be reviewed in the post exploitation phase.4. Reporting The reporting phase is the final stage of penetration testing where the test results are compiled as a PT report. This report includes all details about the penetration test. For example,  Objective of penetration testing Tester team  Scope (Target team / system / network) List of vulnerabilities identified by the team Details of exploitation Key findings Calculation of time during access and maintaining access Impact and analysis Tactical and strategic recommendations Summary This report comes under the “confidential” category and only authorised personnel should have access to this report. Note of the “Acceptable use” of this report must be mentioned in this report and agreed to by both parties.Top 10 tools for Penetration testingTools play a major role in penetration testing.  These tools help to identify security weaknesses in the network, server, hardware and application. Penetration tools are nothing but a software application which is developed to check loopholes that are used by the actual hacker.  However, the same tools are also used by pentesters to check the threats that may compromise the security of the organization. This is like a weapon that can kill but can also protect from the enemies.There are hundreds of tools available in the market to perform various penetration testing operations. We will look at some of the most common tools used for penetration testing which are helpful for common testing features and are widely accepted by most organizations.1. MetasploitMetasploit is a widely used penetration testing tool framework. Using metasploit, testing teams can verify and manage security assessments that keep white hat hackers a step ahead.Metasploit has a user friendly GUI interface along with a command line. It also supports all operating systems like Mac OS, Linux and Windows, But it’s more commonly run on Linux.  Metasploit allows testers to break into the system and identify severe flaws. Testers can exploit the flaws and perform actual attacks with this tool. Metasploit provides more than 1500 exploits using metadata.2. WiresharkWireshark is the world's most widely used network protocol analyzer. This tool helps testers to check what's happening on the network at a microscopic level. Wireshark helps for deep inspection of hundreds of protocols along with live captures and offline analysis features. Wireshark also supports all major OS like Windows, Linux, MacOS, Solaris etc.Powerful display filters, rich VoIP analysis, coloring rules, decryption ability and many other features make Wireshark an unbeatable industry leader in the market.3. BeEFBeEF stands for Browser Exploitation Framework. This penetration testing tool is used to check a web browser and explore weaknesses on the client system and network. It also looks past hardened network parameters and client systems.It can use more than one browser for launching directed command modules and further attacks in the context of the browsers.4. Burp suiteBurp suit is ideal for testing web-based applications.  Burp Suite is widely used by most information security professionals.This framework uses web based penetration testing on the JAVA platform with automatic crawling capacity over the application.It has features to map the tack surface and analyze requests between a browser and destination servers.5. NessusFor 20 years, 30000 companies have been using Nessus tools for their penetration testing process. This is the most powerful tool in the world with more than 45000 CES (Cyber Exposure Score) and 100000 plus plugins for scanning the IP addresses, websites and completing sensitive data searches. Using Nessus testers can locate the weak points in the systems.  Nessus can be helpful for locating and identifying missing patches, malware including all operating systems, applications, mobile scanning. Fully featured dashboard, wide range scanning capacity and multi format report facility makes Nessus the best tool for VAPT worldwide.6. NmapFree, flexible, powerful, portable and easy to use, Nmap is an open source network discovery and security auditing tool.Nmap is useful to check and manage service upgrade schedules, monitoring host and running services with uptime, network inventory management etc. It uses raw IP packets to determine whether hosts are available or not. Nmap also helps to check what services are running hosts along with application name, version, operating systems details. Testers can check what type of packet filters are in use. Nmap has the ability to scan a single system to large networks. It supports almost all operating systems.Nmap is so popular that it has been featured in 12 movies including The Matrix, Snowden, Ocean’s 8, Die Hard 4, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc.7. AircrackAircrack NG is the tool for assessment of wireless security. Aircrack can monitor captured packets and transfer data to the text file which can help third party tools for monitoring processes. Using Aircrack, pentesters can crack WEP and WPA protocols. The CLI interface of Aircrack allows heavy scripting yet also supports GUIs and operating systems like Windows, OSx etc.8. SQLmapSQLmap is a tool to automate the process of detection and exploitation of SQL injection flaws into the application and database servers. SQLmap comes with a powerful detection engine that supports all database management systems.  It supports all six SQL injection techniques like boolean based blind, time based blind, error based, Union based etc.By providing proper authentication, IP address, port and database name it can bypass SQL injection and connect with the database.9. OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)ZAP is a free, open source penetration testing tool for testing web applications. It is also known as “man in the middle proxy” because it stands between the tester’s browser and the web application so that it can intercept messages, modify if required and send to the destination. It supports all major OSs and Docker.It can also construct a map of the application and record the requests and responses and generate alerts if something is wrong.10. SET - Social Engineering ToolkitSET (Social engineering toolkit) is an open source penetration testing framework designed to perform social engineering attacks. It is designed to perform a human-side penetration test to check if any human error can convert into a threat for the organization.SET has a number of custom attack vectors in which targets can get trapped easily.  SET can be integrated with Metasploit framework. Using SET penetration, testers can perform  Phishing attack, website attack, malware attack, create payload and eavesdropping, mass mailing etc.These are the very basic and common tools used by penetration testers or white hat hackers to find out major weaknesses in the systems or network. There are more than 300 tools available on specialised OS for penetration testing like Kali Linux, Parrot Security Operating system, Backbox, DEFT, Samurai Web testing framework, Node Zero etc. SummaryIn this article we have learned what exactly penetration testing is, and what is the importance of testing in the organization. The tools and techniques discussed can vary from organization to organization, but the objective will remain the same - to protect the assets of the organization from outside attackers. Skilled penetration testers can find more and more loopholes, which can then be patched to make systems more secure.Mobile device security and cloud security are also expanding the scope of penetration testing. As a penetration tester,  one has to get ready and know about the vulnerabilities and testing in these areas as well. Remember, this is a game where a penetration tester always has to stay one step ahead of a black hat hacker, since ultimately there can only be one winner; either the attacker or the organization.

Beginner's Guide to Penetration Testing

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Beginner's Guide to Penetration Testing

Since you are here to read this article,  we assume that you are already aware of the terms “hacking”“hackers” and other words associated with unauthorised access. Penetration testing or ethical hacking is the process of attempting to gain access into target resources and perform actual attacks to find loopholes in the system and measure the strength of security.

In this article we will learn about penetration testing, its requirements and understand how real world ethical hackers perform hacking attacks.

Penetration testing (also called pen testing) and Vulnerability Assessment are both individual activities. Vulnerability assessment is carried out to identify the vulnerability of the system or network and patch that particular vulnerability with the creation of some controls. 

Although the modus operandi may be similar, the motives behind hacking and penetration testing are polar opposites. Hacking is done with the intention of causing harm. It includes footprinting, attacks, gaining access, exploitation etc. And once the motive is fullfiled the hacker clears the tracks in other words, wipes the evidence. The target might not have any prior information regarding this.

Penetration testing, on the other hand, is carried out with the motive of enhancing the existing security level of the system. It is carried out with the approval of top management or delegates, who provide support for the testing.  Penetration testing is the actual testing of the system by targeting and performing real attacks without having much information about the target systems. Many companies and government agencies hire penetration testers to check the strength of their security controls.

UK’s National Cyber Security Center summarised pentesting in one line.”A method of gaining assurance in the security of an IT system by attempting the breach of system’s security, using some tools and techniques as an adversary might”.

Types of Penetration Testing

There are 3 main type of penetration testing: 

1. Black Box penetration testing 

Here the attackers have no prior or predefined information regarding the target. They have to perform common attacks using tools and techniques without any knowledge of the target's IP address, OS details or other information. This type of testing is called covert or Red team testing

2. Grey Box Penetration Testing 

In this type of testing, attackers have some amount of information about the target like location, IP address, OS details, email ID etc. Based on the incomplete information at hand, they have to apply the appropriate method of attack and perform penetration testing.   

3. White Box Penetration Testing.

White hat testing is comparatively downright testing with full fledged information about the target, where the hacker has all required information to perform the attack. This might include IP address, OS details, known vulnerabilities, application version and so on. This is also known as overt testing or Blue Team testing. 

Why is Pentesting important in Hacking ?

Penetration testing helps organizations to safeguard their assets and prevent loss of data and financial or other assest. It may be carried out by a variety of cyber criminals including hackers, extornists, disgruntled employees or any other undesirable elements.

It also helps to check the actual implementation of compliance and find out the non-compliance in the entire system or network, which can eventually lead to big mistakes and result in business loss, heavy fines and defamation.

Penetration testing helps shape your information security strategy by identifying vulnerabilities and their impacts, and defining the likelihood of future attacks, that can be mitigated proactively.

Penetration testing Methodology 

Penetration testing is more advanced than any other form of testing. In normal testing, the tester assumes that such a scenario is unlikely to happen, wherein there’s an attempt at unauthorised access and hence might have skipped some functions.  

Penetration testing on the other hand requires the tester to think of all possible scenarios of attack and act like an actual attacker to design the perfect system and get the desired result.

To achieve this goal, the penetration testing process is designed in major steps. 

Penetration testing Methodology

1. Planning 

In the planning phase, top management involvement is highly recommended. With the help of delegates, the penetration team identifies the rules, objectives and goals to perform successful penetration testing. Risk of testing, required permission to access the information systems, backup plan, alternative source allocation, required downtime etc. are carried out after discussionbetween the tester and client.(in case of white hat testing). Without proper planning, pentesting may lead to heavy data loss or any similar failure. It is also important to get approval from the management regarding the scope. Testing without management approval can lead to major production/business impact. The penetration tester can get fired or face legal action in some cases. 

2. Target Discovery 

In this phase, penetration testers have to get as much  information as possible about the target. This includes but is not limited to IP address, OS, email IDs, locations, network maps etc. In major cases, OSINT framework will help the tester to get most of the open information about the target. After getting all the required information, they have to start vulnerability assessment using automated tools. Usually testers have their own database giving the details of the vulnerabilities. Once enough data has been gathered during the target discovery phase

3. Exploitation 

This is the core process of any penetration test. In this phase, testers identify potential vulnerabilities and get those vulnerabilities verified by exploiting them. If the vulnerability actually exists, then the attack takes place successfully. This phase includes a variety of attacks like social engineering, SQL injections, implementation of the backdoors, malware attacks, phishing attacks and more. Also, the goal of this phase is to check if access can be maintained that eventually converts into privilege escalation that can keep stealing the organization’s data or keep acting as a threat for the system. 

Sometimes, pentesters will leave a clue on the target system that can be reviewed in the post exploitation phase.

4. Reporting 

The reporting phase is the final stage of penetration testing where the test results are compiled as a PT report. This report includes all details about the penetration test. For example,  

  • Objective of penetration testing 
  • Tester team  
  • Scope (Target team / system / network) 
  • List of vulnerabilities identified by the team 
  • Details of exploitation 
  • Key findings 
  • Calculation of time during access and maintaining access 
  • Impact and analysis 
  • Tactical and strategic recommendations 
  • Summary 

This report comes under the “confidential” category and only authorised personnel should have access to this report. Note of the “Acceptable use” of this report must be mentioned in this report and agreed to by both parties.

Top 10 tools for Penetration testing

Tools play a major role in penetration testing.  These tools help to identify security weaknesses in the network, server, hardware and application. Penetration tools are nothing but a software application which is developed to check loopholes that are used by the actual hacker.  However, the same tools are also used by pentesters to check the threats that may compromise the security of the organization. This is like a weapon that can kill but can also protect from the enemies.

There are hundreds of tools available in the market to perform various penetration testing operations. We will look at some of the most common tools used for penetration testing which are helpful for common testing features and are widely accepted by most organizations.

1. MetasploitMetasploit

Metasploit is a widely used penetration testing tool framework. Using metasploit, testing teams can verify and manage security assessments that keep white hat hackers a step ahead.

Metasploit has a user friendly GUI interface along with a command line. It also supports all operating systems like Mac OS, Linux and Windows, But it’s more commonly run on Linux.  Metasploit allows testers to break into the system and identify severe flaws. Testers can exploit the flaws and perform actual attacks with this toolMetasploit provides more than 1500 exploits using metadata.

2. WiresharkWireshark

Wireshark is the world's most widely used network protocol analyzer. This tool helps testers to check what's happening on the network at microscopic level. Wireshark helps for deep inspection of hundreds of protocols along with live captures and offline analysis features. Wireshark also supports all major OS like Windows, Linux, MacOS, Solaris etc.

Powerful display filters, rich VoIP analysis, coloring rules, decryption ability and many other features make Wireshark an unbeatable industry leader in the market.

3. BeEFBeEF

BeEF stands for Browser Exploitation Framework. This penetration testing tool is used to check a web browser and explore weaknesses on the client system and network. It also looks past hardened network parameters and client systems.

It can use more than one browser for launching directed command modules and further attacks in the context of the browsers.

4. Burp suite

Burp suit is ideal for testing web-based applications.  Burp Suite is widely used by most information security professionals.Burp suite

This framework uses web based penetration testing on the JAVA platform with automatic crawling capacity over the application.It has features to map the tack surface and analyze requests between a browser and destination servers.

5. Nessus

For 20 years, 30000 companies have been using Nessus tools for their penetration testing process. This is the most powerful tool in the world with more than 45000 CES (Cyber Exposure Score) and 100000 plus plugins for scanning the IP addresses, websites and completing sensitive data searches. Using Nessus testers can locate the weak points in the systems.  
Nessus

Nessus can be helpful for locating and identifying missing patches, malware including all operating systems, applications, mobile scanning. Fully featured dashboard, wide range scanning capacity and multi format report facility makes Nessus the best tool for VAPT worldwide.

6. Nmap

Free, flexible, powerful, portable and easy to useNmap is an open source network discovery and security auditing tool.

Nmap

Nmap is useful to check and manage service upgrade schedules, monitoring host and running services with uptime, network inventory management etc. It uses raw IP packets to determine whether hosts are available or not. Nmap also helps to check what services are running hosts along with application name, version, operating systems details. Testers can check what type of packet filters are in use. Nmap has the ability to scan a single system to large networks. It supports almost all operating systems.

Nmap is so popular that it has been featured in 12 movies including The Matrix, Snowden, Ocean’s 8, Die Hard 4, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc.

7. Aircrack

Aircrack

Aircrack NG is the tool for assessment of wireless security. Aircrack can monitor captured packets and transfer data to the text file which can help third party tools for monitoring processes. Using Aircrack, pentesters can crack WEP and WPA protocols. The CLI interface of Aircrack allows heavy scripting yet also supports GUIs and operating systems like Windows, OSx etc.

8. SQLmap

SQLmap

SQLmap is a tool to automate the process of detection and exploitation of SQL injection flaws into the application and database servers. SQLmap comes with a powerful detection engine that supports all database management systems.  It supports all six SQL injection techniques like boolean based blind, time based blind, error based, Union based etc.

By providing proper authentication, IP address, port and database name it can bypass SQL injection and connect with the database.

9. OWASP Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP)

OWASP Zed Attack Proxy

ZAP is a free, open source penetration testing tool for testing web applications. It is also known as “man in the middle proxy” because it stands between the tester’s browser and the web application so that it can intercept messages, modify if required and send to the destination. It supports all major OSs and Docker.

It can also construct a map of the application and record the requests and responses and generate alerts if something is wrong.

10. SET - Social Engineering ToolkitSET - Social Engineering Toolkit

SET (Social engineering toolkit) is an open source penetration testing framework designed to perform social engineering attacks. It is designed to perform a human-side penetration test to check if any human error can convert into a threat for the organization.

SET has a number of custom attack vectors in which targets can get trapped easily.  SET can be integrated with Metasploit framework. Using SET penetration, testers can perform  Phishing attack, website attack, malware attack, create payload and eavesdropping, mass mailing etc.

These are the very basic and common tools used by penetration testers or white hat hackers to find out major weaknesses in the systems or network. There are more than 300 tools available on specialised OS for penetration testing like Kali Linux, Parrot Security Operating system, Backbox, DEFT, Samurai Web testing framework, Node Zero etc. 

Summary

In this article we have learned what exactly penetration testing is, and what is the importance of testing in the organization. The tools and techniques discussed can vary from organization to organization, but the objective will remain the same - to protect the assets of the organization from outside attackers. Skilled penetration testers can find more and more loopholes, which can then be patched to make systems more secure.

Mobile device security and cloud security are also expanding the scope of penetration testing. As a penetration tester,  one has to get ready and know about the vulnerabilities and testing in these areas as well. Remember, this is a game where a penetration tester always has to stay one step ahead of a black hat hacker, since ultimately there can only be one winner; either the attacker or the organization.

KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

Author

KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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For this, you need to learn how to give the exam and what type of questions are asked. For a second, let’s imagine the scenario of a war. If a new trainee soldier having knowledge of arms and wearing his 15 kgs protective suit jumped into the warzone, do you think he can fight better and save the lives of others without having any practice? Probably not, because he is unaware of war scenarios, combat methods, and ways of attack and defense in real war zones where the situation is uncertain. The same concept applies to CEH exams. You may face a lot of weird-looking or twisted or tricky questions with confusing multiple answers. Therefore, once you are done with your CEH training and you have knowledge of all topics, you need to test it like a mock drill of the war zone.There are many sources available where you can practice the exam questions. This platform will help you to understand the methods to ace the exam questions, and complete them within the required timeframe. Here we are sharing some links to practice for your exams. ( Note: We do not promote any website or any platform here. These links are shared to help students find good options for studying.) CEH ASSESSMENT- EC-CouncilEC-Council® CEH™ Exam PrepCEH practice examApart from this, you can follow blogs, industry experts, and relevant videos for more understanding and guidance.Required soft skills Every job roles needs certain skills apart from the core skills needed to perform on the job. These include soft skills that will help you grow as an individual and as a professional.Be Curious – Be hungry for knowledge and for learning new things and gaining new skills.  Be Enthusiastic - Be enthusiastic and motivated throughout your journey as a hacker and you will be rewarded.  Eliminate the distractions - Avoid time-wasting or non-productive activities during the training like spending time on online games or social media. About the exam After getting trained and completing your practice, it is time for the exam. The CEH exam is a 4 hour exam with 125 multiple choice questions. Check the below link for the exam blueprint to get an idea of the percentage ratio of each module during the CEH exam. Examination centres can be chosen based on your location. Keep your exam code with you. The exam organizers have a process to determine the difficulty rating of each question. For more information, you can check out the EC-Council website and get in touch with your training center.Conclusion So, start your journey on becoming a certified cyber security professional with the CEH course and credential. As with anything else, practice makes perfect and you will become better as an ethical hacker with practice. Work hard and you will definitely achieve your CEH certification at the very first attempt. 
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How To Clear CEH in First Attempt?

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What Is SQL Injection (SQLi)

In today’s world cyber-attacks are triggered to alter or steal the information of a person or an organization in a huge volume of data. It is very much important to protect the data/database from security related attacks.SQL injection is one of the top trending cyber attack techniques recognized by the world’s top non-profit security foundation OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project). SQL injection attacks are made by inserting or injecting the SQL query input from the client end of the application. In this article, we will learn about the SQL injection, types of attacks using SQL injection and preventive steps.  What is SQL Injection? SQL injection attack is used to insert malicious SQL statements into an entry field for execution. This injection technique is the most common web application hacking attack that allows an attacker to get unauthorised access, commit identity spoofing, tamper, take control or destroy your database. This is an attack that is very simple and easy to carry out even for script kiddies.  As we can see in the above picture, this is the second most common vulnerability that can impact databases. SQL injection flaws occur because of poorly designed web applications that can exploit SQL statements that execute malicious code.  How SQL injection is used is very much dependent on the intention of the hacker. With unauthorized access to a database server, what can attackers do? Here are some examples: Download unauthorized data of a person or an organization Delete/modify data Permanently destroy data/backups Add a virus to a system Alter security Encrypt/steal/alter data and hold it for ransom Publicly shame an organization via a web or social media hack Use data to harm business operations How does SQL injection work? To understand SQL injection, you need to know what SQL is.   SQL – SQL stands for Structured Query Language. This language is mainly developed for interacting with the relational database. For data manipulation, Query is used to insert data, modify the database, or just to access the required data.Image SourceSQL Injection is one of the most vulnerable threats which may exploit the entire database of any private organization or government sector where code is injected in a web page.  An SQL statement will be altered in a manner which goes with ALWAYS TRUE as constraint. (In simple words 1=1  This will be always true) It allows an attacker to view unauthorized data. This might include data belonging to other users, or any other data that the application itself is able to access. An attacker can modify or delete this data, causing persistent changes to the application’s content or behavior.SQL injection TypesThere are a wide variety of SQL injection vulnerabilities, attacks, and techniques, which arise in different situations. Some common SQL injection examples include:Tautologies – Used to Bypass AuthenticationSelect * from USERTable where uid=‘xyz’ and pwd =’x’ or ‘5’=’5’;Union – Used to Extract Data. A different dataset is returned from the Database.  Illegal/Logically Incorrect Queries - Used to Identify injectable parameters.  Piggybacked Queries - Multiple queries are executed without the knowledge of the user which may lead to Database exploitation. Injected queries are added to the normal executable query. Inference - Different responses from the database are cross checked by changing its behavior.  Stored procedure - Injection is done to the stored procedure present in the Database.Common Causes and how to avoid SQL Injection Attack-If we are assuming our application’s code/web forms are well protected against any kind of attack by default, application changes and assumptions that were true in the past or present may not be true in the future and may require additional changes. These assumptions eventually lead to compliance and security auditing failures. Using unsupported or legacy software/code/tools or features may lead to security holes and there could be chances of delay in catching or fixing such issues. Running patched and upgraded versions of code is critical to avoid security exploits. Continuously monitoring for new security vulnerabilities and reacting as needed is an important step towards avoiding unnecessary surprises. Reviewing old code is very important, and timely changes in the code are highly recommended as technologies keeps changing. The versions, functions, and extensions require regular upgrades. Older versions or codes are quite vulnerable and might be unable to maintain the integrity of your application. How to detect SQL injection vulnerabilitiesAs a pentester, you can use two techniques to find SQL injection vulnerabilities with high efficiency - manual and automated testing.Manual Testing During application development there are set of tests performed on each level, that help to detect any SQL injection vulnerability, if it exists. Check with the single ' character ‘ and look for errors or other anomalies. The tester can add some SQL specific syntax into code that can evaluate the original value of the entry point and other values, and check for different responses by the application. Another method is to create a Boolean condition, for example “OR 1=1” and “OR 1=2”, and check again to see if the application response is different.  There are some payloads available that are designed to trigger time delays if executed in SQL query, and you can check if there is any delay in response. Automated TestingThere are many good tools and frameworks available in the market. Here is the list of some of the best tools for SQL injection detection. SQLMap Appsider by Rapid7 Accunetix Wapiti Netsparker etc.How to prevent SQL injection vulnerability? To prevent or avoid SQL injection vulnerability, we must first understand why it occurs, and why it is listed as one of the vulnerabilities in the OWASP top 10.  The SQL injection is so easy to perform, that even a script kiddie can make an attempt.  Another reason is the treasure of critical data that lures the attacker to use SQL injection.  Below is the vulnerable code for SQL injection where the user input is concatenated directly into the query: String query = “;SELECT * FROM products WHERE category = ‘";+ input + "’" Statement statement = connection.createStatement(); ResultSet resultSet = statement.executeQuery(query); Check out the code below that helps to prevents the user input from interfering with the query structure: PreparedStatement statement = connection.prepareStatement("SELECT * FROM products WHERE category = ?");  statement.setString(1, input);  ResultSet resultSet = statement.executeQuery(); Primary recommendations: Use Parameterised queries  Least Privilege Use stored procedures if required White listing the input fields Avoid displaying detailed error messages that are useful to an attacker. It is also important to get patch updates regularly, as every day there are many new vulnerabilities that are found.  It is also recommended to use a Web Application Firewall to protect your application, which can help you to filter and find malicious data.  Where Do We Go Next? It is very important to identify and mitigate this notorious vulnerability and take immediate actions to keep your systems secure. Many skilled attackers are waiting to take advantage of your mistakes, like poor code, so that they can hack into the database. We know this vulnerability is very old but we have to be aware of the outcomes of this type of vulnerability and try to prevent this during the development phase, rather than covering up the liability later.  
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What Is SQL Injection (SQLi)

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The Importance Of PCI ; Data Security Standard (DSS)

As the world moves towards digital means of payments and transactions, there has also been concerns over the security and protection of cardholder information. According to the PCI Security Standards Council, more than 500 million card holder records with confidential information have been breached since 2005. Merchants, who accept digital forms of payments, are at the centre of digital payments, and can become a victim of financial fraud at multiple points, including: • The point-of-sale device or machine • Wireless hotspots • Connected computer or any other device • Transmission of the cardholder data to the service provider. Risk factors According to a business survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, a majority of businesses conduct activities increase the risk of card fraud, including storage of card number, expiration date, any verification code, and customer date. Introduction to Data Security Standard (DSS) The Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a security standard mandatory for organizations that handle payments using cards, issued from major card types including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. This PCI standard is mandatory for all card brands and is administered by the PCI Security Standards Council. The sole aim of the PCI standards is to protect cardholder data and to reduce card frauds. Objectives The objective of PCI-DSS course is the protection of cardholder data during storage, processing, and transmission. Cardholder account information includes the unique primary account number (PAN) printed in the front of every card. Merchants or any service provider, who process card payments, must never store sensitive information about the transaction after the authorization. This includes confidential data that is stored in the magnetic stripe of the card, along with any personal identification information entered by the cardholder. Requirements The PCI Data Security Standards specifies a list of 12 mandatory requirements, which are grouped under 6 control objectives, as listed below: 1) Build and maintenance of a high-security network, which includes: * Installation of a secure firewall to protect cardholder data. This restricts (or blocks) all traffic from untrusted networks, and prohibit direct public access between the Internet and the cardholder data environment. * Changing of the vendor-provided default password and other security measures. This is important as most card fraudsters are able to break into the cardholder’s internal network using the default passwords. 2) Protection of cardholder information, which includes: * Encryption of cardholder information that is transmitted over public networks. Encryption technology renders the transmitted data unreadable by any unauthorized person. Use of cryptography and security protocols such as SSL/TLS or IPSec can be used to safeguard customer data. * Protection of the stored cardholder data. Sensitive data on the magnetic chip of the card must not be stored. In case the PAN needs to be stored, it must be stored in an unreadable format. Limit the duration of storage of cardholder data. 3) Maintenance of a vulnerability management program, which includes: * Use and regular updates of anti-virus software programs on all systems. Harmful viruses can enter the user network through email and other online activities. Anti-virus software is an effective tool to protect computer systems from external attacks. * Development and maintenance of secure systems and applications. Security vulnerabilities in the system and applications can enable cyber criminals to access PAN and other secure data. Ensure that all the systems and application are updated with the latest security patch from the vendor. 4) Secure access control measures, which includes: * Restricting business access to cardholder information. Limit access to confidential cardholder data to only those users whose work requires this information. Additionally, restrict the access to the least amount of data required for business purpose. * Assigning of a unique ID to every person with computer access. This is important to be able to trace if the access to critical data has been executed by only authorized persons. 5). Restricting of the physical access to cardholder data. Physical access to cardholder data must be restricted to all onsite personnel, visitors, and all paper and electronic media. 6) Regular monitoring and testing of networks, which includes: * Tracking and monitoring of all access points to network resources and cardholder data. Use of logging mechanisms and tracking of user activities are included. * Regular testing of security procedures and processes. Periodic testing of security controls is important, along with internal and external network scans. 7) Maintaining of an information security policy, which includes: * Maintenance of a company policy that addresses information security. This includes establishing a security policy that addresses all the PCI-DSS requirements, along with an annual process to detect any vulnerability. These set of requirements is mandatory for companies that manufacture devices that accept and process PIN-based transactions or any other type of digital payments. Financial institutions, merchants, and service providers must ensure that they only use devices, approved for PTS (PIN transaction security).
The Importance Of PCI ; Data Security Standard (DS...

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