Security Audit

CREST Accredited Penetration Testing: Your Go-To Guide

Published on: January 9, 2023

CREST Accredited Penetration Testing: Your Go-To Guide

CREST or Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers is a non-profit membership body that was established in 2006 as a response to the need for more regulated, standardized cybersecurity services. 

You might be wondering what CREST-accredited penetration testing is and why your organization is in need of it. Well, this article will delve into everything related to CREST from its formation to what its function is as well as how such a standardized pentest from an accredited professional can be crucial for your company.  

CREST Accredited Penetration Testing

CREST accredited penetration testing are pentesting service offered by organizations that have been assessed, vetted, and accredited by the CREST body. 

The CREST accredited penetration tests provided by such companies and the professionals working in them are extremely trustworthy and are even employed for assessing governmental assets and for testing the security of other confidential information. 

With CREST accredited penetration testing, you can expect quality services that do not compromise on any facet involved with testing your security. From carrying out a thorough scope to final rescans, CREST-accredited pentests do not leave your assets unprotected. 

Initial CREST accredited penetration testing was only mandatory for the UK and the governmental organization within the UK, this even included critical infrastructure. 

However, now CREST accredited penetration testing can be carried out by an organization that wishes to test, assess and bring up their security to standards to a truly global level. 

All about CREST

Established in 2006, this membership body aims to enhance the cybersecurity industry globally. The multi-tiered membership body aims to create a secure digital world for all by quality-assuring our members and delivering professional certifications to the cybersecurity industry.

Member companies are introduced to the body through a rigorous accreditation process that vets quality security professionals worldwide. Initially, however, the membership was solely available to organizations in the UK and worked closely with the UK government. 

It initially worked with civil aviation, finance, telecommunications, and national infrastructure to support cybersecurity frameworks and standards.  

Currently, it is available in various regions such as Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), the Americas, Australasia, and the UK. Its accreditation isn’t limited to entire companies, but rather can be obtained by seasoned cyber security professionals as well. 

CREST Mission

CREST was established with a mission to build capability, capacity, consistency, and collaboration in the cybersecurity industry internationally through services that nurture, measure, and enhance the performance of individuals and organizations. 

Their mission is encapsulated into the four following core values: 

  • Capability: Develop standards to measure the capabilities of organizations in the cybersecurity industry. 
  • Capacity: Work across industries to grow the web that is cyber security expertise. 
  • Consistency: Setting a global standard for organizations to assure the delivery of consistent high-quality service. 
  • Collaboration: Engage with the global cyber security community to impart shared knowledge and capabilities for the benefit of all. 

Let’s take a deeper look at them. 

CREST Values

CREST follows four core values which are: 

1. Capability

With over 300 quality-assured members including world-famous cybersecurity companies, their combined assured services offer an industry-leading quality of service that is tested and assured against CREST audits and accreditation processes. 

This enables thoroughly vetted cyber security organizations to work with governments, national security agencies, and regulatory bodies internationally to support and safeguard their confidential information from individuals with ill intent. 

Such information includes personal details, information that concerns national security, and infrastructures. 

2. Capacity

With the number of cyber threats increasing exponentially by the day, the need for competent cybersecurity professionals is also on the rise. 

CREST-qualified individuals undergo rigorous professional examinations that test their knowledge, skills, and competency thoroughly at an application level. 

These hard-earned certificates are internationally recognized and respected thus bolstering an individual’s career professional standards. 

3. Consistency

Accreditation by CREST is an internationally recognized badge of quality and trust for member companies. 

All member companies are required to submit policies, processes, and procedures relating to their services as a part of the accreditation process. 

This is then critically analyzed by the accreditation committee before CREST membership is approved for the organization. Once this is carried out, companies are required to renew their accreditations in a lighter process annually. 

Customers who choose CREST-accredited services are assured that they are dealing with a trustworthy company that offers high-quality services through professional technical staff. 

4. Collaboration

CREST draws on its extensive international network to collaborate and bring about a wide range of unique content to inform and support other members globally. 

This is done by conducting multiple events, webinars, and workshops that allow member interactions to bring about conversations around cyber security to mold it to higher efficiency. 

CREST Accreditation

The CREST accreditation process begins when you or your organization shows interest in obtaining the certification and contacting the team. After this, a Non-Disclosure Agreement is sent to be signed and once that’s complete, a membership portal is created for your organization. 

An application consisting of all the necessary documents are completed and sent after which the potential member can select their preferred discipline for which they wish to obtain accreditation. 

This is followed by a review by the CREST team who then provide you with valuable feedback which should be resolved based on number and severity. After this, your organization is subject to membership payment upon receiving the invoice for which your CREST membership is considered valid. 

Steps in CREST Accredited Penetration Testing

Here are the steps taken in a pentest provided by a trusty CREST-accredited pentester for CREST accredited penetration testing. 

Website VAPT Process
Astra’s VAPT Process
  1. Scoping

This is the initial phase where a scope is agreed upon by the pentesters and the customer which details the number of assets to be audited, the rules of attack, and the understanding of the needs of the client.

Proper scoping is required for a thorough CREST-accredited penetration test, to avoid scope creep and legal troubles in the future. 

  1. Scanning

This is the second phase of the CREST pentesting where the assets are scanned and audited for any vulnerabilities or areas of non-compliance that endanger data safety by the CREST accredited pentest provider. 

  1. Exploitation

The vulnerabilities discovered during the pentest are exploited, evaluated, and categorized based on the threat’s severity. This is done according to CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) scores in which 8-10 represents critical vulnerabilities, 5-7 medium-level vulnerabilities, and 1- 4 low-level vulnerabilities.

  1. Reporting

Once the CREST accredited penetration testing is complete, a detailed report is generated for the customers to help them understand the measures taken, vulnerabilities found, remediation measures that can be opted for, and help with good documentation of security. 

  1. Remediation

The report will contain remediation measures for the vulnerabilities found on them. These vulnerabilities are to be remediated and patched based on criticality, the ones with high criticality should be patched immediately. 

  1. Rescanning

Once the patches are made the assets are scanned again to verify the airtightness of the fixes made and to make sure there are no further vulnerabilities. 

Benefits of CREST Accredited Pentesting and Accreditation

Here are some of the benefits that help make CREST accreditation and CREST accredited penetration testing stand out among others.

CREST Accreditation

  • Members and potential members undergo a rigorous assessment of the services provided by them including the processes, and procedures followed by them. 
  • The thoroughly vetted members are then featured in CREST’s searchable database, allowing them to be discovered by various companies in need of CREST-accredited penetration testing and other services. 
  • These members have access to knowledge of cybersecurity that is shared at a global level.
  • Access to other CREST members through webinars, workshops, and focus groups. 

CREST Accredited Penetration Testing

  • Improvement in your technical environment would help reduce support calls. 
  • A reduction in incident expenses. 
  • Allows one to have greater confidence in the cyber security of your assets. 
  • Increases awareness of the need for proper regular pentest and continuous upkeep of cybersecurity. 
  • Professionals who work to test your asset security will be skilled, component, and knowledgeable in penetration testing. 
  • Members of CREST have an insider track on keeping up with the evolving cyber threats and the constantly shifting needs of cybersecurity. 
  • CREST accreditation is a gold standard certification that provides a sense of security and trust in services provided by member companies. 

Differences Between CREST and CHECK Penetration Testing

Given below are the differences between CREST, CHECK, and penetration testing for both. 

CREST Penetration TestingCHECK Penetration Testing
Accreditation by the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST)Accreditation by National CyberSecurity Centre
For private organizations but also collaborate with NCSC. For public and government organizations
Internationally recognized. Endorsed by the UK
Uses CREST pentesting methodologiesUses NCSC-recognized pentesting methodologies
Mainly aimed at cybersecurity companiesMainly aimed at cybersecurity experts

CREST Examinations

The CREST professional examinations are generally broken down into three categories: 

1. CREST Practioner

These are entry-level professional examinations held for individuals who have at least 2500 hours or 2 years of penetration testing experience. The examination for this is the CREST Practioner Security Analyst or CPSA.

2. CREST Registered 

These examinations are steps above and perfect for you if you’re willing to prove your commitment to information security testing. Candidates applying for this examination must have a minimum of 6000 hours of experience with penetration testing.

The examinations for this include, CREST Registered Security Analyst (CRSA), and CREST Registered Penetration Tester (CRT).

3. CREST Certified

These are exams designed for seasoned professionals in the penetration testing field with over 10,000 hours or 5-6 years of experience. 

The exams for CREST Certified include, CREST Certified Infrastructure Tester (CCT INF), CREST Certified Web Applications Tester (CCT APP), CREST Certified Simulated Attack Specialist (CCSAS), CREST Certified Simulated Attack Manager (CCSAM).

CREST Requirements For Accreditation Of Company

CREST has 4 major requirements that need to be met by potential companies in order to achieve CREST certifications. They include: 

  1. Companies operating processes, procedures, and standards. 
  2. Personnel security and development
  3. Testing approaches and methodologies
  4. Security applied for data protection. 

Interested organizations and individuals in cyber security can not only apply for CREST accreditation in penetration testing alone but rather in cyber security incident responses and SOC as well. 

Conclusion

Confidential, susceptible data is always on the move or is stored digitally by most public and government agencies. This makes CREST accredited penetration testing a much-needed safety measure to ensure their systems are safe from any vulnerabilities that could threaten data safety. 

It is prudent to regularly conduct CREST-accredited penetration tests with the aid of CREST-accredited companies that make the job of security easier for you.

What is CREST penetration testing?

CREST penetration testing refers to CREST-certified pentesters assessing your cyber security protection and defense systems to test their ability to keep hackers at bay.

How do you become CREST certified?

In order to become CREST certified, one can take three levels of examinations based on their hours or years of experience. These exams include:
1. CPSA (CREST Practioner Security Analyst) – Experience of 2500 hours or 1-2 years.
2. CRSA (CREST Registered Security Analyst)- 6000 hours of experience.
3. CCT INF (CREST Certified Infrastructure Tester)- 10,000 hours or 5-6 years of experience.

What is the validity of CREST certifications?

Complete examination-based certifications are valid for 3 years while written components of practical examinations have a yearly validity which needs to be renewed yearly.

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Nivedita James

Nivedita is a technical writer with Astra who has a deep love for knowledge and all things curious in nature. An avid reader at heart she found her calling writing about SEO, robotics, and currently cybersecurity.
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