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The Art of Ethical Hacking: Part 1 - Understanding Authorized Testing

02/09/2024 | Chris Griffin
2 min read

In today's digitally-driven world, the battle against cyber threats has become more critical than ever. With organizations storing vast amounts of sensitive data, safeguarding against malicious actors is a top priority. One powerful weapon in the arsenal of cybersecurity is authorized testing, often referred to as "ethical hacking" or "white-hat hacking." In this two-part series, we'll explore the intricacies of authorized testing, shedding light on its importance and the key steps involved.

Permission and Agreement

Authorized testing begins with a formal agreement between the organization (the target) and a qualified penetration testing team or individual. This agreement outlines the scope, objectives, and rules of engagement for the testing process. It often includes legal documentation like a "penetration testing authorization" or "pentest agreement," specifying the authorized testing period and permitted actions.

Scope Definition

The scope of the penetration test is clearly defined, detailing the systems, applications, networks, and assets that are within the testing boundaries. Here, we craft a roadmap that meticulously outlines the systems, applications, networks, and assets encompassed by the evaluation. This ensures that the testing focuses on specific areas of concern and avoids unintentional disruption of unrelated systems.

Methodology Selection

Penetration testers follow a predefined methodology that outlines the techniques, tools, and approaches they will use during the assessment. Common methodologies include the OWASP methodology (tailored for web applications) and the versatile Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM), adaptable for diverse testing domains, including web applications, physical assessments, and network evaluations.

In Part 1, we've established the fundamental principles of authorized testing. We've emphasized the significance of formal agreements, the clarity of scope, and the relevance of selecting the right methodology for effective ethical hacking. These foundational elements are essential for ensuring that authorized testing is conducted ethically and effectively.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we dive deeper into the testing process and vulnerability assessment.

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