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Lifecycle   »   Agile Testing   »   Penetration testing


Bear in mind, this may or may not apply to your solution. The objective of a penetration test is to assess the security of a solution by creating and imitating an attack from an outside source. The solution is often on the web and the outside source is a cracker or hacker. The penetration tests are trying to identify and unpick potential vulnerabilities. Often these vulnerabilities are well documented technical flaws, exploitations or weaknesses known throughout the industry and also well-known to hostile or malicious intruders. Penetration testing is used to uncover these flaws, outline the feasibility and method of possible attacks, document the risks and business impact as well as identify proper mitigation for the flaw.

Penetration testing is split into 2 main types. Black box testing (aka blind penetration tests) and White box testing (aka full disclosure penetration tests). Black box tests assume no prior knowledge of the solution that is to be penetrated. These are the tests used to uncover the routes and security breaches that hackers find into unfamiliar systems. Where sensitive information is compromised or there are security breaches by employees this assumes some prior knowledge of the system and white box testing is used.

As a minimum, you perform white box testing and try to automate as much of this is possible. Black box testing can be expensive and time-consuming but the costs need to be compared with the financial loss involved in a system rendered inoperable or permanently damaged.

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