Sometimes the best way to test out the security of a site or IT infrastructure is to try to break into it. Pen testing tries to mimic cyber attacks, hoping to find security vulnerabilities before hackers do. Penetration tests are a vital part of planning a security-first design for real-world applications.
Penetration testing has many computer applications. Computer systems are more complex than ever, and with the addition of black box AI applications, security and remediation are critical to businesses and organizations.
Ethical hacking involves an authorized attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, application, or data. Carrying out an ethical hack involves duplicating strategies and actions of malicious attackers. This practice helps to identify security vulnerabilities which can then be resolved before a malicious attacker has the opportunity to exploit them.
Hacking experts follow four key protocol concepts:
1. Stay legal. Obtain proper approval before accessing and performing a security assessment.
2. Define the scope. Determine the scope of the assessment so that the ethical hacker’s work remains legal and within the organization’s approved boundaries.
3. Report vulnerabilities. Notify the organization of all vulnerabilities discovered during the assessment. Provide remediation advice for resolving these vulnerabilities.
4. Respect data sensitivity. Depending on the data sensitivity, ethical hackers may have to agree to a non-disclosure agreement, in addition to other terms and conditions required by the assessed organization.
A bug bounty is a monetary reward given to ethical hackers for successfully discovering and reporting a vulnerability or bug to the application's developer. Bug bounty programs allow companies to leverage the hacker community to improve their systems’ security posture over time continuously.
Companies create bug bounties to provide financial incentives to independent bug bounty hunters who discover security vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems. When bounty hunters report valid bugs, companies pay them for discovering security gaps before bad actors do.
A red team is a group of offensive security professionals tasked with using real-life adversarial techniques to help organizations identify and address vulnerabilities across infrastructure, systems, and applications, as well as weaknesses in processes and human behavior.
In contrast, a blue team, typically based in a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), is a group of analysts and engineers responsible for defending organizations from cyber-attacks through a combination of threat prevention, deception, detection, and response.