It’s important to note that the use of these tools should only be done with the explicit consent of the owner of the target system and within the bounds of applicable laws and regulations.
The use of such hardware for malicious purposes, such as stealing sensitive information or installing malware, is illegal and unethical.
Pen testers usually have a ‘get out of jail free card’ when on a job as if they get caught, they would surely be asked a lot of questions! For this reason, they are supplied with a document stating they are authorised to be performing the pen test. Pretty cool, hey? (⌐■_■)
Kali Linux is the most prominent open-source operating system used to perform pen tests on. It is important to note that having access to such a tool, or any open-source tool for that matter, is a double-edged sword. The explanation is simple and that is that both offenders and defenders will work with the same tools trying to ‘outsmart’ each other. In the cyber sec world, we refer to defenders as white-hat hackers – ethical hackers, those who work towards exploiting for the purpose of improving security, and then on the other hand we have offenders, the black-hat hackers, or adversaries – those who hack out of malicious intent.
There is a number of pen testing software and tools such as:
- Hashcat: an advanced password recovery tool used for cracking passwords – capable of cracking a variety of hash formats. It operates by using brute-force attacks, dictionary attacks, and rule-based attacks to crack passwords.
*Brute-force attacks try every possible combination of characters until the correct password is found. Dictionary attacks try words from a predefined list of words, while rule-based attacks modify words from the dictionary in a pre-defined way. By cracking passwords, organisations can identify weaknesses in their password policies and improve the security of their systems.
- Wireshark: a network protocol analyser that can be used to capture, analyse, and debug network traffic. It is often used for network troubleshooting but can also be used for network security testing and forensics.
- Metasploit: an open-source platform for developing, testing, and executing exploits. It’s one of the most used pen testing automation frameworks out there – it helps professionals verify and manage security assessments.
- Nmap: a network mapping tool used for port scanning, host discovery, and service enumeration. It can also be used for vulnerability scanning and detection of misconfigured systems.
- Burp Suite: a comprehensive suite of tools used for web application security testing. It includes a web proxy, scanner, spider, and other tools for detecting and exploiting web application vulnerabilities.
- Aircrack-ng: a suite of tools used for Wi-Fi network security testing. It includes tools for monitoring and capturing Wi-Fi traffic, cracking WEP and WPA-PSK keys, and performing various other Wi-Fi network security tasks.
The use of these tools requires a deep understanding of security principles and a thorough understanding of the target environment, as well as a strong ethical foundation.
There are various ways in which networks can get exposed to exploits and vulnerabilities. Let’s name a few:
- Outdated software: Networks can become vulnerable to exploits if the software and operating systems used on the network are not kept up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
- Unsecured configurations: If networks are not configured properly, they can become vulnerable to exploitation. Using weak passwords, not using encryption, or leaving services running that are not needed can all make a network more vulnerable.
- Human error: It is actually people who are considered the weakest link in network security. They may inadvertently download malware, click on phishing links, or reuse passwords, putting the network at risk.
Employee cyber awareness training!!! I cannot stress enough the importance of training your employees on the importance of cyber security hygiene. In this day and age, companies cannot afford not to have their employees trained on basic security practices. Training should be completed during employee onboarding and should be revisited at least once a year.
The best way to test employees is by simulating phishing attacks. These will often involve emails sent from within your organisation that are designed to look like legitimate messages. They will include links which are meant to lure the employees to click on them and this is then monitored by the security team. In this way, the company will get a better understanding on their security posture and will be able to determine if additional security training and education should be implemented.
A strong security posture helps an organisation minimise the likelihood and impact of cyber-attacks, reduces the risk of data breaches, and maintains the trust and confidence of customers and stakeholders.