5 steps penetration test

Cybersecurity audit or penetration testing (pentest) consists of tests of existing defense mechanisms in the analyzed environment. These tests range from checking the victim's devices to studying human factors through social engineering.

Why is it important to conduct a penetration test?

In many cases, companies suffer from incidents that could have been avoided if the protection mechanisms had been strengthened in a timely manner. Incidents include events such as information leakage, unauthorized access or data loss, and more.

The analysis of protection mechanisms should be a proactive task, allowing the pentester (the person conducting the audit) to discover their vulnerabilities and find a solution before a cybercriminal takes advantage of this weakness.

These techniques can save organizations the money and time they need to address future application vulnerability issues.

Steps to Perform a Penetration Test

The penetration testing process begins long before an attack is simulated. This allows ethical hackers to study the system, examine its strengths and weaknesses, and determine the right strategies and tools to break the system.

The penetration testing process usually goes through five stages: planning and reconnaissance, scanning, gaining access to the system, permanent access, and final analysis/report.

Step 1: Planning and Research

At the first stage of penetration, a malicious attack is planned and simulated. The attack is designed to collect as much information about the system as possible.

This is perhaps one of the most time-consuming steps, as ethical hackers test the system, identify vulnerabilities, and study how the company's tech stack responds to system breaches. The information sought ranges from company names and email addresses to network topology, IP addresses, and more.

It should be noted that the nature of the information or the depth of the investigation depends on the objectives of the audit. Information gathering methods include social engineering, dumpster searches, network scanning, and obtaining domain registration information.

Step 2: Scan

Based on the data obtained during the planning phase, penetration testers use scanning tools to investigate system and network vulnerabilities. At this stage of testing, weaknesses in the system are identified that can be used for targeted attacks. Getting all this information right is vital, as the success of the next steps will depend on it.

Step 3: Gaining access to the system

Having discovered system vulnerabilities, pentesters invade the infrastructure, exploiting vulnerabilities. They then try to further exploit the system by elevating their privileges to demonstrate how far they can penetrate the target environment.

Step 4: Permanent Access

This testing phase determines the potential consequences of exploiting a vulnerability by exploiting access rights. After gaining access to a system, penetration testers must maintain access and sustain the simulated attack long enough to reach and reproduce the targets of malicious hackers.

Therefore, at this stage of testing, we are trying to get the maximum level of privileges, network information and access to as many systems as possible by determining what data and / or services are available to us.

At this point, we need to show what this security breach could mean for the client. Accessing an old computer that isn't even part of a domain is not the same as accessing passwords or compromised data directly.

Step 5: Analysis and reporting

This is the result of a penetration test. In the final step, the security team creates a detailed report describing the entire penetration testing process. Some information or details that should be included:

- The severity of the risks associated with the discovered vulnerabilities.

- Tools for successful system hacking.

- Highlighting moments where security is implemented correctly.

- Vulnerabilities that need to be eliminated and ways to prevent future attacks (recommendations for elimination).

This step is perhaps the most important for both sides. Since this report is likely to be read by both IT professionals and non-technical managers, it is advisable to divide the report into a general explanation section and a more technical section, i.e. a manager's report and a technical report.


In conclusion, it is essential to take the necessary precautions to avoid attacks and incidents in the future. This is largely due to the fact that the number of attacks has increased exponentially in recent years, and it does not seem to stop anytime soon (it is believed that this year will be a new record year for cyberattacks).

Businesses are a prime target for cyberattacks as hackers can steal valuable information from there. Sometimes they even demand a ransom for information.

Mainton Company - custom software development and testing, SEO and online advertising since 2004.