EXTERNAL NETWORK PENETRATION TESTING
Identify your external infrastructure vulnerabilities, emerging threats and assess the risks affecting external networks through our external network penetration testing service. This exercise follows a risk mitigation plan to maintain a minimal attack surface over the internet.
What is an external network penetration test?
The external network penetration test simulates an internet attacker on organisational devices, applications, and data. This threat actor mimics an internet user with zero prior knowledge and relies on internet-based information about your organisation (Open Source Intelligence).
An external pen test exercise establishes an organisations’ internet footprint. It helps in vulnerability identification in the remote workforce infrastructure, devices such as firewalls, email servers, applications and web servers.
Compared to internal penetration testing, it is a quick and short exercise. For instance, a medium to the large organisation may expect results within a week to two weeks maximum.
As a customer, it is important for you to know where you require external network pen testing or external vulnerability scan and if you are making an informed choice. This is more than running automated scans that you can do within your team without our expertise.
Penetration tests include identifying vulnerabilities, detecting new and emerging threats and justifying the investment by following a manual approach to safely exploiting the security vulnerabilities to mimic real world threats. A network penetration tester also elaborates risk impact, likelihood and technical supporting information to ensure the customer security team is aware of the risk.
An external vulnerability scan is a sub-set of penetration tests that includes analysis of network vulnerabilities that may or may not affect the environment. It is a helpful exercise for assets at scale and continuous checks to know the threat surface (less deep, more wide analysis).
External pen test methodology
01. Initial Scoping & Objectives
As this is a black box external infrastructure penetration testing, we only require the target IP addresses or ranges in scope. An authorisation form is sent to seek customer’s permission to allow us work in line with Computer misuse act before the project.
With increased awareness about cyber attacks, these opportunities are few and far between. We try exploitation using attack vectors such as external networks or web application security vulnerabilities, misconfigured servers or default credentials mainly.
02. reconnaissance & intelligence gathering
The reconnaissance phase in external pen testing services works with the single objective – information gathering and analysis to establish the initial layout of the organisation’s presence on the Internet. Based on project scope, intelligence gathering is mostly infrastructure related (e.g. network layouts, domains, servers, infrastructure details) unless it is a red team pentesting where personnel are in scope.
05. data analysis & reporting
This includes analysis on the test output, evaluation of the risk impact and attack likelihood before providing action plans to remediate the identified risks. Our penetration test report is a comprehensive report addresses business as well as the technical audience with supporting raw data, including mitigation measures at strategic and tactical levels.
03. active scanning & vulnerability analysis
Using manual external pentest approaches and penetration test tools, our network penetration testers identify security weaknesses and prepare an attack layout to target vulnerable systems. Manual vulnerability analysis includes removing false positives from automated scans, performing tasks such as enumeration and application related issues.
06. debrief & support
Our engagement process in a external network penetration test services includes delivering a free of charge debrief to management and technical teams. This session involves help to prepare a remediation plan and Q&A to ensure that customer contacts are up to date. Cyphere also provide a remediation consultancy where we define and execute the risk mitigation plan.
Vulnerabilities discovered by our External Penetration Testing service
Frequently Asked Questions about External Network Penetration Testing
External network pen test provides results of security threats faced by your internet-facing infrastructure. An example is to check for information security weaknesses that help to avoid data breaches such as exposed databases or sensitive data.
This includes detailed issues along with proof of concepts supporting technical teams. For example, a firewall administrative interface that is running a vulnerable version is exposed to the internet. However, it could do with exposure to your IT service provider IP ranges only. This is an excessive exposure and should be reviewed in line with the defence in-depth approach.
An external pen test starts with port scanning over the Internet, followed by vulnerability assessment, analysis and exploitation phase. An internal network penetration testing is different to external penetration testing in its methodology and purpose. Due to latency over the internet, the port scan test window is agreed with the client based on several factors such as hosting provider, the sensitivity of the assets and business operations sensitivity of the target assets. This input is fed into the vulnerability scanning phase to figure out if the identified vulnerabilities could be exploited. The exploitation phase involves an attempt to gain access to different services, and external assets. Any other attack vectors that an attacker could exploit or issues that could lead to data breaches are explored. All output from this execution is fed into the data analysis & reporting phase.
An external pen test starts with port scanning over the Internet, followed by vulnerability assessment, analysis and exploitation phase. An internal penetration test is different to external pen testing in its methodology and purpose. Due to latency over the internet, the port scan test window is agreed with the client based on several factors such as hosting provider, the sensitivity of the assets and business operations sensitivity of the target assets. This input is fed into the vulnerability scanning phase to figure out if the identified vulnerabilities could be exploited. The exploitation phase involves an attempt to gain access to different services, and external assets. Any other attack vectors that an attacker could exploit or issues that could lead to data breaches are explored. All output from this execution is fed into the data analysis & reporting phase.
This is a fully remote test. Our external IP addresses are shared with the customer before the external pentest as part of seeking authorisation (Computer Misuse Act), providing sufficient time window to share the originating IPs with relevant devices and teams where needed for monitoring and white-listing purposes.
Cyphere’s external penetration test reports are world class deliverables containing raw data to support proof of concept and risk remediation measures.
Risk remediation is sometimes a complex process due to the specialist security skill-set needed for IT teams. As part of our aftercare support, we provide help in preparing remediation plans for all our customers.
Optionally, we provide remediation consultancy services to ensure all agreed findings are mitigated in line with best information security practices.
Why do you need External Penetration Test?
External Penetration Test is an important part of your cyber security program. It helps you identify vulnerabilities in your organisation that could be exploited by Internet-based attackers. Network Penetration Tests allow you to assess the risk that identified vulnerabilities pose to your business. You can protect your company from cyber-attacks by identifying and mitigating these risks.
Based on the Ponemon Institute’s report, average cost of a data breach around the world has been calculated at $4.35m. However, these numbers are changing every year given the risk of data breaches due to increased attach surfaces.
What can you gain from External Penetration Testing?
External Penetration Testing can help you with a better understanding of your organisation’s security posture. By identifying security issues during security assessment, the customer is aware of their attack surface on the Internet.
External penetration testing can help you make informed decisions about how to improve your security (e.g., hardening, information leakage, patching, etc). Network pen tests can also help you prioritize the mitigation of risks, which can help protect your business from cyber-attacks.