What is a penetration test?
Penetration testing simulates an attack by a malicious party by using tools and manual investigation to identify weaknesses. Testing involves the exploitation of found vulnerabilities to gain further access. Using this approach will result in an understanding of the ability of an attacker to gain access to confidential information, affect data integrity or availability of a service and the respective impact.
What do you get?
This approach looks at the depth and impact of a potential attack, as compared to the security assessment approach that looks at the broader coverage. It is great for understanding the depth of exposure from a vulnerability but it can result in a narrow focus that potentially misses other vulnerabilities that would have been identified through a security assessment. The level of assurance gained is directly associated with the ability of the tester, the scope of engagement and the time and effort allocated.