Security Audit

Planning for a Pentest? Here’s What You Should Know (All FAQs Answered)

Published on: December 17, 2021

Planning for a Pentest? Here’s What You Should Know (All FAQs Answered)

Data theft and data breaches have become the most common form of cybercrimes, and with the advent of complex SaaS applications, they are getting even more frequent. And here comes the time when you realize that you might have been the next target of a cyberattack, and you become paranoid about the security of your data.

Penetration testing (aka. pentest) is the most crucial thing in a business. Because if you are a business owner and do not perform penetration testing, you would be in a terrible position. The penetration testing will help you find the different vulnerabilities in your system and fix them. You can identify the security flaws in your system and prevent hacking or cyber-attacks. Penetration testing also helps you find the different things you can do to fix your security flaws. But what exactly is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a process of identifying vulnerabilities in an information system and attempting to exploit them. The goal of a penetration test is to determine if a system can be compromised. 

Penetration testing is a method of validating the security of an information system by simulating or emulating an attack on the system or software. The pentesting is used to identify security vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the system or software and determine the extent of damage a malicious user could cause to the system or software.

Why should I undergo Penetration Testing?

Penetration Testing helps to identify any problem that a cyber-criminal can exploit. The most important benefit of penetration testing is that it helps improve the system’s security by identifying weaknesses. 

Penetration testing is a way to provide your organization with an external view of the security of your applications and get a higher level of detail and focus than an internal vulnerability assessment would provide. Penetration testing is the best way to determine the security of a network or an application. It ensures that the network or an application has been tested for flaws and vulnerabilities.

Benefits of Pentest
Image: Benefits of Pentest

Who performs Penetration Testing?

Based on the size of the organization, penetration testing is performed by two parties: 

  • Internal security team 
  • External penetration testing provider

The main difference between them is the perspective. An external penetration testing provider tests your security systems from outside, from the perspective of a malicious hacker. An internal security team member takes a more internal view, testing their security systems from inside, from the perspective of an insider who could damage the system.

Most organizations opt for an external penetration testing provider to test the security of their network infrastructure and applications. Many companies, especially large organizations with multiple locations, rely on an internal security team to perform penetration tests.

How often should I perform Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is a highly effective method for evaluating the security of your IT infrastructure and network. Yet, this method is one of the most neglected and underused solutions for managing the security of a network and application. 

Every penetration test is different and should be treated as such. However, penetration testing should be performed regularly to ensure consistent IT and network security management. 

Smaller businesses that offer essential services may only need to perform penetration tests once every year. In comparison, larger companies that provide more valuable services may often want to perform penetration tests.

Make your Website / Web Application the safest place on the Internet.

With our detailed and specially curated SaaS security checklist.

How much does a Penetration Test cost?

The purpose of penetration testing is to provide business leaders with a solid understanding of the security posture of their network and test the effectiveness of existing network security controls. The cost of a penetration test is driven primarily by the following factors: 

  • Size of the company 
  • Complexity of the application or network 
  • The approach of Pentest black box, grey box, and white box
  • Scope of work
  • Level of expertise

The Pentest market is highly competitive, with a vast range of Pentest companies offering their services for a wide variety of prices. Pricing primarily depends on the factors that have been enumerated earlier. However, one might expect a fee within the range of $4500 to $6500 for simple applications or networks and around $10,000 to $15,000 for more complex networks or applications. 

Do I need permission from my Cloud Service Provider before Performing Pentest?

Simply answering the question, No, you don’t need permission from your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) before you can perform penetration tests on your applications. Earlier, Amazon Web Services and Azure by Microsoft needed permission, but now all 3 top cloud providers (AWS, GCP and Azure) allow cloud penetration testing. However, there are specific boundaries to what a Cloud Penetration Tester can play with while the rest remains out of bounds for pen-testing.

Learn about the limits of cloud providers (AWS, GCP, and Azure)

I have an in-house Security Team. Why should I choose an External Pentest Provider?

Choosing an external pentest provider can significantly benefit your organization, even if you already have an internal team. External pentest providers can provide you with a much more in-depth analysis of your security. This can be highly beneficial if you are a small organization with limited resources to dedicate to your pentest. It also provides you with independent analysis. This allows you to view the results from an objective point of view.

An external pentest provider can act as an extra layer of security for your internal security team. If your internal team is already stretched thin, an external pentest provider might be a good fit for your business. An external pentest provider can also act as a second set of eyes and give you the peace of mind that your network and application are safe.

How long does it usually take for a complete Pentest?

A complete pen test should take about 1-3 weeks on average. This may extend for a few more days if additional tasks are requested. If a pen test is performed for an organization with an extensive scope, then the test might take more time. The same goes for the organization that has less of a scope. As a rule of thumb, the time it takes to perform a complete pen test depends on an organization’s security requirements. Note that this time frame is only average.

For instance, if your organization is starting and you only want to test the security of a single application, then it will probably take you only a day or two. If your organization is a large corporation with complex network infrastructure, the pentest will probably take a week or two.

Can Pentest help me in achieving Compliance?

Yes, a Penetration Testing Report is one of the major requirements for most compliance standards such as PCI DSS, NIST, etc. A penetration testing report describes the vulnerabilities found in the system and how they were discovered, and the risk associated with the vulnerabilities. 

A Penetration testing report can be complex if you do not involve the right people and an agile approach is not adopted. Astra has the skills and expertise to seamlessly integrate penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and security management into your existing processes as a trusted partner of leading organizations. Astra’s penetration testing is completely compliance-friendly, be it NIST, PCI DSS, or others.

What would be required from my end for a Pentest?

A third-party pentest is an assessment of your security performed by an external party. Before you engage in one, make sure you understand what your third-party vendor is planning to test. It is essential to know what assets will be tested and whether the vendor will scan your internal and external facing systems.

Also, here are a few other things to keep in mind before starting a pentest

1. Prepare a Penetration Testing Contract

2. Decide which environment will be scanned. If production is to be tested, inform your customers.

3. If you are undergoing White Box Testing, share relevant accounts and access controls with the team.

4. Authorize IP addresses for automated scanners which third-party pentest teams will be using.

5. Discuss the timeline, pentest methodology, reporting guidelines before engaging.

What are the Top 3 Penetration Testing Tools?

Automated penetration testing tools are the best ways to keep your company safe and secure. Here is the list of the top 3 penetration testing tools organizations use worldwide.

1. Astra’s Vulnerability Scanner

Astra’s Vulnerability Scanner offers more than 3000 tests that can test your application thoroughly. The test cases are based on OWASP Top 10, CWE Top 25, CERT Top 25, CIS Top 25, NIST Top 25, SANS Top 25, SANS 25 Risks, NIST 800-53, PCI DSS, HIPAA Security Rule, FISMA, GLBA, ISO 27001, etc. 

2. Vega

Vega Vulnerability Scanner is a free and open-source web security scanner and web security testing platform to test the security of web applications. It is also available as a commercial product. Vega was developed by the team behind the popular open-source penetration testing framework, OpenVAS. 

3. OWASP Zap

OWASP ZAP is an open-source security tool for finding vulnerabilities in your web applications. It is designed to be used by people with a wide range of security experience. It is ideal for developers and functional testers who are new to penetration testing. 

Why is Astra a trusted pentest provider?

Astra is a pentest provider with a team of highly skilled professionals who help organizations find vulnerabilities in your web apps and security systems. Our team of ethical hackers and penetration testers allows organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Astra has the experience and the technical knowledge to proactively protect our clients’ assets. Our assessment includes a broad range of tests and services that cover the complete security chain from web application attacks and web services to networks. 

Astra is one of the only pentest companies to provide a complete security audit with more than 3000 tests at a very pocket-friendly price. Our pentest services are based on the latest industry standards, and we use the best tools and methods (including our proprietary tools and methodologies) on the market.

5 Reasons to choose Astra
Image: 5 Reasons to choose Astra

Wrapping Up

Exploitable vulnerabilities are one of the most significant risks to any organization. An unsecured server, weak application passwords, invalidated session IDs, and hackers can exploit other security vulnerabilities to gain access to your information and steal sensitive information, which is why performing regular pentests are essential. Astra’s Pentest Suite is a go-to security solution for all your security needs.

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Kanishk Tagade

Kanishk Tagade is a Marketing Manager at Astra Security. Having a hawk-eyed view on the cybersecurity threat landscape, market-shifts, and hacktivism activities, Kanishk is a community member of the Nasscom and corporate contributor at many technology magazines and security awareness platforms. Editor-in-Chief at "QuickCyber.news", his work is published in more than 50+ news platforms. He is also a social micro-influencer for the latest cybersecurity defense mechanisms, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning, AI and IoT products.
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