Filling the Gaps: Understanding Penetration Testing

As more people work remotely, companies are faced with new vulnerabilities. In the past year, there has been a surge of cyberattacks in the past year and it has only been steadily rising. Companies now need security more than ever and an effective method that will allow companies to understand where they can improve is Pen Testing.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing, or pen testing, is a cybersecurity method that experts use to identify, test, and highlight vulnerabilities in a company’s digital assets. These tests are performed by ethical hackers to see how secure these assets are and identify blind spots that developers missed. Pen testing attempts to breach several applications in the system to uncover any weak spots— vulnerabilities that hacker can take advantage of.

Ethical hackers are professional IT experts that use hacking methods to help identify possible entry points in the system. They perform a controlled attack against a system, service or application using real-world attack techniques. Ethical hackers use various methods, tools, and approaches to fully grasp the condition of a network. By pinpointing where the flaws in the system are, professions can patch the gaps to ensure a more secure defense against any bad actors.

Stages of Penetration Testing

According to Crest, to do a pen test, these are some of the pertinent steps that professionals follow,

  1. Preparation
    1. It is important to firstly create a technical assurance framework that is managed by an appropriate penetration testing with governance structure. Testers must determine the drivers to be used for the test and the purpose and target environment, deciding on what are the suitable suppliers are to perform the tests.
  2. Testing
    1. The testers will conduct the tests enterprise-wide with the approved testing style and type while allowing for testing constraints and managing the testing process. The tests are carried out effectively by identifying, investigating, and remediating the vulnerabilities found.
  3. Follow up
    1. With the findings gathered, follow up activities are made by remediating the weaknesses of the targeted environments and carrying out the improved plan that is agreed upon as an action plan.

Types of Pen Testing

  1. Black-box Testing
    1. With this software testing method, no information is provided to the tester. They are not provided internal knowledge or source code for the target system, relying on the dynamic analysis of the current programs and systems in place. The testers also need to be able to create their own map of the network based on their finding. This method allows the testers to simulate an external attack with no prior knowledge and understand what an uninformed attacker do to the target’s system.
  2. Gray-box Testing
    1. With gray-box testing, also known as translucent box, the testers are given limited information about the target. This information can be the login credentials to a system or even the design and architecture of the internal network. The purpose of this method is to provide more a focused and efficient evaluation of a network’s security, emphasizing on the greatest risk and value from the start rather than determining this information on their own.
  3. White-box Testing
    1. Unlike black-box, white-box pen testers are given full access to information about the target network. They can perform more static code analysis and other similar tools important in this test. They can also provide a comprehensive evaluation of the internal and external vulnerabilities that the target has.

Why is it important?

Reports say cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion dollars annually by 2025. The cost of these damage includes stolen money, intellectual property, personal data, financial data and many more. As more hackers treat cybercrimes as businesses, more and more institutions will be targeted all over the world, big and small. Penetration testing helps ensure that a company is capable of handling that inevitable attack. By uncovering the weaknesses that a network has, the less risk a company has to exposure and the damage that it can cause. The goal of pen testing is to detect any possible vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of so companies are aware of what to improve and fix.

Ethical hacking is a procedure that companies should do regularly, especially for government institutions and large-scale corporations.  As cybercrimes become more sophisticated, organizations need to strengthen their defenses. By performing a pen test, companies can identify the problem and come up with an action plan. Pen testing serves as an important step in the enhancement of a company’s cyber defense, ensuring the safety that they need.



Poston, Howard. “What Are Black Box, Grey Box, and White Box Penetration Testing? [Updated 2020].” Infosec Resources, 17 June 2021,

Creasey, Jason. A Guide for Running an Effective Penetration Testing Programme. Crest, Apr. 2017, Accessed 18 June 2021.

Contributor, TechTarget, and Puneet Mehta. “Pen Testing (Penetration Testing).” SearchSecurity, 19 May 2021,

Drugeot, Constance. “The Rise of Penetration Testing –.” Software Testing News, 2 June 2021,

Morgan, Steve. “Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025.” Cybercrime Magazine, 27 Apr. 2021,