Penetration Testing – What’s that?

Penetration Testing – What’s that?

Netragard Protects Voters

It amazes me that most of the “security companies” that offer penetration testing services don’t know what penetration testing is. Specifically, they don’t deliver penetration tests even though they call their services penetration testing services. In most cases their customers think that they’re receiving penetration tests but instead they’re receiving the lesser quality vulnerability assessment service.
When customers are looking to purchase penetration testing services they should receive penetration testing services. Likewise, when they’re looking to purchase vulnerability assessment services they should receive vulnerability assessment services. Unfortunately, customers won’t know what they’re receiving unless they clearly understand what those services are and how those services are defined. The services are not interchangeable and they are entirely different.
The English dictionary defines a Penetration Test as a method for determining the presence of points where something can make its way through or into something else. Penetration testing is not unique to Information Security and is used by a wide variety of other industries. For example, penetration testing is used to test armor by exposing the armor to a level of threat that is usually slightly higher in intensity than what it will face in the real world. If the armor is defeated by the threat then it is improved upon until it can withstand the threat.
The standard product of penetration testing is a report that identifies the points where penetration is possible. If the service that was delivered was a real penetration test then the report cannot contain any false positives. You either penetrate or you don’t, there is no grey zone. If the report contains false positives than a service that was delivered was not a true penetration test and was likely a vulnerability assessment which is an entirely different and lower quality service.
A Vulnerability Assessment as defined by the English dictionary is a best estimate as to how susceptible something is to harm or attack. Vulnerability assessments are often used where penetration testing is too risky. Specifically, a vulnerability assessment might be used to assess the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the strength of a bridge, etc. The important difference between Penetration Tests and Vulnerability Assessments is that Vulnerability Assessments do not prove that vulnerabilities exist but instead provide a best guess as denoted by the word “assessment”.
With regards to IT Security, Vulnerability Assessments test at a lower than real world threat level. This is because Vulnerability Assessments do not exploit the vulnerabilities that they identify yet malicious hackers do. Vulnerability Assessments alone are inadequate when it comes to providing deep and effective testing services but are useful for performing quarterly maintenance and checkups.
Lastly, don’t allow your vendor to confuse methodology with service definition. Methodology defines how a service is delivered but not what a service is and from what perspective. With regards to security testing there are only two core services , Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Tests. You can apply those services to Web Applications, Networks, People, Physical Locations, WiFi, etc. For example, you can receive a Web Application Penetration Test, or a Network Vulnerability Assessment. You wouldn’t need to receive both a Vulnerability Assessment and a Penetration Test against the same target as that would be redundant. A Penetration Test covers the same ground as a Vulnerability Assessment only with even more depth, and accuracy.

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Karen Huggins

Chief Financial, HR and Admin Officer
Karen joined the Netragard team in 2017 and oversees Netragard’s financial, human resources as well as administration functions. She also provides project management support to the operations and overall strategy of Netragard.
Prior to joining Netragard, she worked at RBC Investor Services Bank in Luxembourg in the role of Financial Advisor to the Global CIO of Investor Services, as well as several years managing the Financial Risk team to develop and implement new processes in line with regulatory requirements around their supplier services/cost and to minimize the residual risk to the organization.
With over 20 years of experience in finance with global organizations, she brings new perspective that will help the organization become more efficient as a team. She received her Bachelor of Finance from The Florida State University in the US and her Master of Business Administration at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France.

Philippe Caturegli

Chief Hacking Officer
Philippe has over 20 years of experience in information security. Prior to joining Netragard, Philippe was a Senior Manager within the Information & Technology Risk practice at Deloitte Luxembourg where he led a team in charge of Security & Privacy engagements.

Philippe has over 10 years of experience in the banking and financial sector that includes security assessment of large and complex infrastructures and penetration testing of data & voice networks, operating systems, middleware and web applications in Europe, US and Middle East.

Previously, Philippe held roles within the information system security department of a global pharmaceutical company in London. While working with a heterogeneous network of over 100,000 users across the world and strict regulatory requirements, Philippe gained hands-on experience with various security technologies (VPN, Network and Application Firewalls, IDS, IPS, Host Intrusion Prevention, etc.)

Philippe actively participates in the Information Security community. He has discovered and published several security vulnerabilities in leading products such as Cisco, Symantec and Hewlett-Packard.

He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), PCI Qualified Security Assessors (PCI-QSA), OSSTMM Professional Security Analyst (OPSA), OSSTMM Professional Security Tester (OPST), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)and Associate Member of the Business Continuity Institute (AMBCI).

Adriel Desautels

Chief Technology Officer
Adriel T. Desautels, has over 20 years of professional experience in information security. In 1998, Adriel founded Secure Network Operations, Inc. which was home to the SNOsoft Research Team. SNOsoft gained worldwide recognition for its vulnerability research work which played a pivotal role in helping to establish today’s best practices for responsible disclosure. While running SNOsoft, Adriel created the zeroday Exploit Acquisition Program (“EAP”), which was transferred to, and continued to operate under Netragard.
In 2006, Adriel founded Netragard on the premise of delivering high-quality Realistic Threat Penetration Testing services, known today as Red Teaming. Adriel continues to act as a primary architect behind Netragard’s services, created and manages Netragard’s 0-day Exploit Acquisition Program and continues to be an advocate for ethical 0-day research, use and sales.
Adriel is frequently interviewed as a subject matter expert by media outlets that include, Forbes, The Economist, Bloomberg, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and The Register. Adriel is often an invited keynote or panelist at events such as Blackhat USA, InfoSec World, VICELAND Cyberwar, BSides, and NAW Billion Dollar CIO Roundtable.