Security Audit

Online Penetration Testing – Tools, Benefits, Features

Updated on: October 30, 2022

Online Penetration Testing – Tools, Benefits, Features

Traditionally, penetration testing is an exhaustive procedure involving a lot of time and resources. It uncovers hidden vulnerabilities and attempts to exploit those to find out how much damage they could incur.

An extensive pentest like this is ideally conducted once a year and the results help with strengthening the security protocols, gaining compliance, and whatnot.

However, there’s a problem with this approach. Traditional penetration testing is designed to give you a point-in-time snapshot of your security posture which is very detailed but not quite enough considering the current state of the cyber threat landscape. That’s where penetration testing online comes in. We’ll discuss its various aspects.

Online Penetration Testing brings in the immediacy and consistency required to cope with the rapidly changing cyber threat landscape. Applications are built faster than ever, they use an enormous amount of external resources to function.

This just means bigger and better targets for hackers to shoot at. It’s imperative for business owners, CIOs, and product managers to make use of the consistency offered by penetration test online.

Here, we will talk extensively about its benefits. With online penetration testing, you can

What is online penetration testing?

Penetration test online is a form of cloud-based security testing where an automated tool is used to test an organization for security vulnerabilities and loopholes. A great online penetration testing tool offers in-depth coverage of attack surfaces and keeps false positives to a minimum.

The best part about pentest online is that it can be conducted on-demand, as often as required. This is in stark contrast to the traditional penetration testing process which is usually scheduled once a year.
Network penetration tests online are just one arena that can be covered by a cloud-based tool for pentesting online, it can also cover cloud infrastructure, APIs, and mobile applications.

Read also: What is Penetration Testing (In Cyber Security)

Top 11 Online Pentest Tools To Know

Here are some of the top online network and firewall penetration test tools to know of to make the right choice for your security needs.

Astra Pentest

1. Astra Pentest

This leading provider of penetration testing services assures zero false positive report generation through a comprehensive scan that is capable of running more than 3000 tests. The reports are vetted by expert pentesters who also provide remediation assistance. The website penetration testing tool is capable of testing for compliances like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and ISO 27001.

Besides website pen testing, Astra also provides firewall penetration testing, and pentesting online for networks, cloud environment, mobile apps and APIs.

Over the past year, Astra has added names like ICICI, UN, and Dream 11, to their already impressive roster of clients which included Ford, Gillette, and GoDaddy, among others.

Pros

  • Provides gap analysis.
  • Rescanning is a must after remediation.
  • Provides publicly verifiably certificate.
  • Ensures zero false positives.
  • Detects business logic errors and scans behind the logins.

Cons

  • Could have had more integrations.
  • Does not provide free trials.
metasploit

2. Metasploit

This is a versatile freely available firewall testing tool that helps with the identification and exploitation of vulnerabilities. It has an inbuilt security scanner that is capable of detecting flaws and potential attack vectors.

Pros

  • Includes nearly 1677 exploits. 
  • Freely available online pentest tool.
  • Easy to use. 

Cons

  • Not beginner friendly. 
  • Initial navigation can be difficult.
sql map

3. SQLmap

Yet another important open-source tool for penetration test online, sqlmap is the best tool for finding SQL injections vulnerabilities through thorough scans of web applications. The found SQL injections are exploited automatically and are popular for various database servers like Microsoft, MySQL, IBM, Oracle, and more.

Pros

  • Open source website penetration testing tool
  • Supports servers like MySQL, and Microsoft Access. 
  • Automated methods of finding various types of SQLs. 

Cons

  • No graphical user interface. 
Nmap

4. Nmap

This is a tool mainly for network penetration tests online. It helps with network inventory, monitoring, and performance of upgrades. It is easy to install and highly scalable for a network security testing solution.

Pros 

  • Shows open ports, and running servers.
  • Open-source tool.
  • Usable for large and small networks alike.

Cons

  • Could have improved user interface.
  • Might show different results each time.
Karkinos

5. Karkinos

This efficient tool for penetration test online offers free services and can be used for the encryption or decryption of data. It provides a bundle of services that when combined can result in enabling a wide range of tests.

Pros

  • Beginner friendly penetration testing tool. 
  • Allows encoding and decoding of characters. 
  • Encryption and decryption of files possible. 
  • Compatible with linux and windows. 

Cons

  • Not suitable for beginners. 
Wireshark

6. Wireshark

Yet another famous tool among open-source online pen testing tools, Wireshark allows the inspection of protocols as well as the analysis of network traffic. The contributions of numerous expert pentesters all over the world help boost the efficiency and credibility of this pentest tool.

Pros 

  • Easy to install
  • Freely available

Cons

  • Can be difficult for beginners to navigate. 
  • Could improve its user interface. 
Nessus

7. Nessus

A standard firewall test tool, Nessus is known for its vulnerability assessments and constant updates which ensure holistic protection and detection of vulnerabilities. It has a free version but this is a bit lacking in features when compared to its commercial product.

Pros

  • Quick asset discovery.
  • Reduces attack surface and ensures compliance
  • Malware detection and sensitive data discovery are also carried out by this tool.

Cons

  • Expert remediation is only available at an additional cost.
  • Cannot handle large volumes of data while scanning.
W3af

8. W3af

W3af is a framework for online penetration testing that enhances any penetration testing tool due to its guidelines. It is capable of identifying nearly 200 various kinds of flaws within web applications.

Pros

  • Allows brute-forcing and auditing.
  • Can carry out SQL injections and file inclusions
  • Comes with a graphical user interface. 

Cons

  • False positives can occur. 
  • GUI can be difficult to navigate. 
OWASP ZAP

9. Zed Attack Proxy

ZAP is an open-source penetration testing tool provided by OWASP. It can be used for Linux, Microsoft, and Mac systems to run penetration tests on web apps to detect a variety of flaws.

Pros

  • Sends automated alerts after crawls and scans
  • Perfect for beginners and experts alike. 
  • Open-source online penetration testing tool. 

Cons

  • Can be slow. 
  • Reports can be cluttered and long.
burpsuite

10. Burp Suite

Burp Suite is a penetration testing tool provided by Port Swigger that provides a variety of services that is essential for any penetration tester. Some of the tools include Spider, Proxy, Repeater Intruder, and more.

It has a free version called the community edition as well as an advanced commercial solution, Professional Edition.  

Pros

  • Provides manual and advanced automated online pentest.
  • Provides step-by-step advice for every vulnerability found.
  • Can crawl through complex targets with ease based on URLs and content.

Cons

  • Advanced solutions are commercialized and can be expensive.
  • Does not provide expert customer service and assistance. 
Kali linux

11. Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a Debian-based platform designed for penetration testing provided by Offensive Security. Kali Linux offers a collection of tools that can be used for penetration testing.

Pros

  • Open source tool. 
  • A large collection of online pentest tools. 
  • High level stability.  

Cons

  • Not recommended for beginners.
  • Installation can be tedious.
  • Difficult user-interface. 

7 benefits of penetration test online

Online penetration testing brings a lot of rapidity to your security efforts. Every organization deals with vulnerabilities. What really matters is how fast you can discover, analyze, and do away with a vulnerability. It requires preparedness and planning, and an online pentest can be of great help.

Automated security testing

In the DevOps environment security often takes the back seat owing to the overwhelming pressure of releasing new features or updating functional fixes. With an online pentest, you can automate security scans that take place whenever you are about to release a major update.

Not all cloud-based pentest solutions come with such features, but some do. Later in the article, we will talk about one of the best pentest platforms that offer integrated automated online pentest.

penetration test online Penetration testing services - continuous penetration testing

Check Out: A Detectify Alternative That’s Miles Ahead

Consistent pentesting

We have already talked about the importance of consistent testing as opposed to point-in-time security checks. There are some clear disadvantages of being inconsistent with online pentests.

  • Vulnerabilities can take root between two scans conducted months apart
  • Your website or application can be subject to SQLi, cross-site scripting, or social engineering attacks
  • It becomes difficult to inspire good security habits in your employees
  • The pressure of remediation can be overwhelming when you conduct infrequent manual pentests

The consistency achieved with the help of penetration tests online goes a long way when it comes to maintaining your company’s security health.

Read also: What is Continuous Penetration Testing? | Third-Party Penetration Testing And Why You Should Consider It

Seamless vulnerability monitoring and management

While pentest reports are an important source of information for an organization when it comes to risk management and resolution of security loopholes, they do not match the impact of a dynamic dashboard that shows you graphical representations of vulnerability-related data, and lets you manage their status and remediation process.

Online firewall penetration test platforms like Astra come with interactive dashboards that make vulnerability management much easier while also helping you with the remediation process.

Read also: A Complete Guide to Automated Vulnerability Scanning

Constant feedback for developers

If you opt for an online pentest tool that can be integrated with your company’s CI/CD pipeline, it can send your developers feedback in terms of the security stature of a certain code update.

It is what helps you build a DevSecOps environment where security testing is an integral part of the software development and the gap between the discovery and remediation of a vulnerability is minimized.

Building trust among customers

Security is slowly but surely becoming one of the key factors that influence the choice of vendors among business owners. When you are continuously secured by both defensive and offensive security measures, it inspires trust among the clients. In fact, it says a lot about your organization.

The fact that you’ve integrated security with your regular business functions shows that you care about the security of your client’s data and their privacy. It is a great quality to have in the current circumstances.

Speedy remediations

Cloud, web, and mobile applications, and network penetration tests online are easy, inexpensive, and quick, you can allocate the resources for prompt remediation of the issues. Some pentest providers offer you the option to build collaborative channels between security engineers and your developers.

It also means that vulnerabilities do not pile up, and the discovery and remediation processes go as smoothly as you can imagine.

Compliance readiness

Compliance audits are worrisome events that send cold anxious winds across an enterprise. It involves a lot of paperwork, reporting, minute assessment of security protocols, etc. A consistent online pentest program can significantly alleviate the anxiety we associate with compliance audits.

penetration test online SaaS security certifications

Also Read: 10 Best Cyber Security Audit Companies [Features and Services Explained]

it becomes way easier to be compliance-ready when you integrate great security practices into your regular operations. When you are already aware of the vulnerabilities present in your system and have the time to cope with the situation, it becomes easier to approach a compliance audit with confidence.

It is one small security loophole v/s your entire website or web application

Get your web app audited with Astra’s Continuous Pentest Solution

Features you should look for in an online pentest tool

CI/CD integration: Your firewall penetration test tool should easily integrate with the CI/CD pipeline so as to enable you to automate continuous scans and schedule scans with ease.

penetration test online penetration testing services - integrations

Scan behind log-in: In order to get the full value of external pentesting, you need authenticated scans where the scanner scans seamlessly behind the logged-in pages.

The problem with this is that once a session runs out, you need to manually re-authenticate the scanner. This issue is tackled by Astra’s login recorder – it takes certain credentials once and keeps the scanner running.

Optimization for single-page apps: It helps you get efficient scans if your pentest tool is optimizable for single-page apps and different frameworks.

Contextual collaboration: It helps your developers collaborate easily with security experts by referring to shared resources. This speeds up the remediation process manifold.

What is the process of online penetration testing?

The exact process of web or mobile app, cloud, and or network penetration test online can differ quite a bit depending on the pentest provider and the target organization.

A lot of the intricate work around the pentest is performed by the pentest provider with little or no involvement from you, so we will focus on the parts of the process that actually concern you.

Step 1

The first step for you in conducting a website penetration test is getting on a call with the pentest providers and determining the scope of the pentest. This is the most important step for you since this is where you need to point at asset types that you want to be tested and the ones you want to be left alone.

Step 2

You share your website or app’s URL for an external scan and authenticate the scanner by providing the information required to run scans behind the logged-in pages.

Scanning behind the login is a prized feature offered by only a handful of pentest providers, and it is something you should definitely look for. More about this later.

Step 3

You monitor the vulnerabilities reported in the pentest dashboard. Refer to the pentest report to understand the risk associated with each vulnerability and prioritize the high-risk ones.

Step 4

Your team of developers works on the remediation with the assistance of the pentest provider.

Step 5

Once the vulnerabilities are taken care of, you can claim your free re-scans to ensure that the issues no longer exist.

Step 6

You integrate the pentest tool with your SDLC to get constant security feedback.

Astra’s Pentest Platform

When it comes to online penetration testing, Astra security comes with an unbeatable solution. Astra combines automated vulnerability scanning with pentest led by expert security engineers to create the most comprehensive and the most actionable penetration testing experience.

It is one small security loophole v/s your entire website or web application

Get your web app audited with Astra’s Continuous Pentest Solution

Astra takes everything offered by its competitors, adds some bonus features, and makes them easier to access. Let us look at some features that make Astra’s pentest platform stand out

DevSecOps

Astra’s pentest platform helps you achieve DevSecOps through CI/CD integration and contextual collaboration.

Regularly updated scanner rules

Astra’s security engineers update the vulnerability scanner every week. That’s more often than any of its competitors. It is important because it keeps you abreast with the cyber threat landscape.

Compliance specific scans

You can use Astra’s pentest dashboard to view the specific compliance regulations that are violated by a certain vulnerability. Thus you can prioritize the remediation of such vulnerabilities.

Scan behind logged-in pages with the login recorder

Share some information to authenticate the scanner once (it takes a few minutes – we’ve added a video to help you with it) and you are done. No need to re-authenticate the scanner every time the session runs out.

Publicly verifiable pentest certificate

Once you have remediated all the vulnerabilities and received the evidence for the same in the free re-scans, Astra offers you a publicly verifiable pentest certificate. It gives you bragging rights – it could make a real difference when your clients try to verify you as a vendor.

On top of all of these Astra maintains an impeccable record of customer assistance, they keep you updated about the cyber security landscape and offer you a number of integrations to strengthen your security with minimum alterations in your regular workflow.

Bottomline

You know what penetration test online is, how it can benefit your organization, and why Astra’s pentest platform would be your best bet when it comes to comprehensive and continuous penetration testing. Now you can go ahead, look at other products, use this as a line of reference, and make the best choice for your organization. Good luck!

FAQs

What is the timeline for a comprehensive pentest?

It takes 4-7 days to complete an in-depth pentest procedure. The re-scans after remediation requires half as much time.

What is the cost of online pentesting?

The cost of penetration testing online varies between $100 and $500 per month.

What makes Astra the best provider of penetration test online?

A perfect combination of automated and vetted testing, zero false positives, competitive pricing, publicly verifiable certificate, integration with CI/CD pipeline, the list could go on.

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Saumick Basu

Saumick is a Technical Writer at Astra Security. He loves to write about technology and has deep interest in its evolution. Having written about spearheading disruptive technology like AI, and Machine Learning, and code reviews for a while, Information Security is his newfound love. He's ready to bring you along as he dives deeper.
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