What Is Network Penetration Testing?

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Network Pen Testing in Brief

There is no doubt that in today’s digital world, security is the main concern for everyone, in particular, our computer networks. Network pen testing is one stage of penetration testing performed within an organization and can be carried out alongside other forms of penetration tests or apart.

Network pen testing is carried out in order to highlight possible threats in Internet connections, business networks, VPN, the local networks of organizations, wireless access and of course, cloud systems. This type of security test includes checking firewalls, routers, hubs, servers, workstations, computers, and IoT devices.

Network Security Testing and the Core Principles

Within the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES), there are 7 stages that must be carried out:

  • Pre-engagement interactions
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Threat modelling
  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Exploitation
  • Post exploitation
  • Reporting

For additional assistance, the Information Systems Security Assessment Framework (ISSAF) can provide ideas for a complete network security plan. An extensive network pen test will require the following information systems to be inspected:

  • CDP attacks (spoofing)
  • DNS enum/AXFR
  • SMTP relay
  • SNMP recon
  • Port security
  • Brute force
  • Encryption tests
  • Password strength tests
  • Spot HTTP user rather than HTTPS

Recommended Network Penetration Testing Tools

The first tool we find to be excellent is Kali Linux. It is open-source and concentrates on penetrating testing as well as security auditing tools. That being said, there are over 600 tools that will perform network penetration tests, such as Nexpose, Nipper, W3AF, Wireshark and Metasploit, so it is worth researching one that appeals to you.

Network Penetration Testing Frameworks

Metasploit is an advanced and robust framework that will configure and run payload on a system with the intent of exploiting the system for pen-testing. From there, you can scan web apps, networks, servers, desktops, and mobile devices.

Network Mapping

Nmap and Fierce are ideal mapper tools for host discovery, port scanning, and operation system detection. They will also permit application version detection, IP range scanning, and name server discovery.

Network Scanning

Favored network scanners and sniffers include Netcat, Unicornscan, OpenVAS, and Nikto. All of these can function with TCP and UDP connections and analyze reverse and forward DNS records. These are good choices for scanning local and remote ports too.

Wi-Fi Penetration Testing

Fluxion, Aircrack-ng, Kismet Wireless, and Yersinia will test 802.1q and 802.1x wireless networks. On top of this, they can test an MDK3 process, analyze WPA/WPA2-PSK and be used for packet sniffing and injecting.

VOIP Penetration Testing

While testing your systems, it is necessary to remember the VOIP systems, and for this, you could choose Wireshark or Viproy VOIP kit to capture VOIP calls with the intent to decode them, run pen tests for SIP/SD and MSRP issues.

Pen Testing and Cryptography

If you are looking for a solution to test code for problems or weak encryption methods, you could use John the Ripper, THC Hydra, findmyhash, or RainbowCrack. They will also perform parallel brute force cracking attacks that will detect empty hashes and use dictionary attack lists.

SQL Penetration TestsSQL Injection Scanner and sqlmap can help detect attacks on SQL databases and assist in the prevention of data leaks.

Other Helpful Tools

In terms of data collection from open information sources such as social networks, you could select WPScan, CMSMap, or Social Engineering Toolkit.

Just How Complex is a Network Penetration Test?

The hardest part of a network pen test is the number of potential places that need to be checked. Cybercriminals will try to find the weak spots on any type of device. Once they succeed in gaining access, they are able to attack any other device that is connected to the same network, more so when there are unencrypted procedures for authorization and access to databases.

If you are considering automated network penetration, then it is crucial that the proper preparation is carried out and whenever possible, the test should be as close to the mannerisms of a real penetration of the system. Never forget, that the smallest of vulnerabilities can open the doors to an attack and unimaginable damage.

Cloud Network Penetration Testing

In the first place, you need to check with the system provider because there are some that will have strict limitations on network penetration testing. The principal goal is to test apps, services and/or APIs. Cloud providers will already have extreme safety configurations on devices and network devices. It is important to analyze three areas:

How the staff responded to testing if admins and DevOps realized an attack was being carried out and what their procedure was.

If being used, the automated protection system response, or even the automatic actions that will block attacks.

The Security Improvement Plan

IoT Network Penetration Testing

As more of our devices and appliances become linked to networks, it is becoming increasingly important to perform network pen testing on IoT devices which are known to perform crucial functions. IoT plays a critical role in the healthcare industry, industrial control systems, Smart Home automation, wearable devices, and more. And, the hardest part of this test is to overcome wireless protocols, as well as the sheer number and diversity of devices.

There are principal components that should be checked with a penetration test in IoT systems:

  • The connection to either Wi-Fi or local networks
  • The connection from a wireless router to the server or cloud system
  • All of the databases/information stored in the processing system
  • Client-server applications, not excluding user apps and API

In Conclusion

The potential damage unauthorized access to your network could cause irreparable losses. If you have never carried out a network penetration test, or you haven’t done so for a while, this has to become your priority. If you are dedicated to any type of critical functions (like the industries we mentioned above) it is advisable to continuously carry out network pen tests and even consider using various companies to do this so that you gain more complete results.