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  • Writer's pictureRACHIT YADAV

Reimagining Network Pentesting With Automation

Network penetration testing plays a crucial role in protecting businesses in the ever-evolving world of cybersecurity. Yet, business leaders and IT pros have misconceptions about this process, which impacts their security posture and decision-making.

This blog acts as a quick guide on network penetration testing, explaining what it is, debunking common myths and reimagining its role in today's security landscape.

What is network penetration testing?

Network penetration testing is a proactive approach to cybersecurity in which security experts simulate cyberattacks to identify gaps in an organization's cyberdefense. The key objective of this process is to identify and rectify weaknesses before hackers can exploit them. This process is sometimes called "pentesting" or "ethical hacking."

Network pentesting checks for chinks in an organization's armor to help mitigate cyber-risks and protect against data, financial and reputational losses.

Differences between internal and external network penetration tests

Internal and external network penetration tests focus on different parts of an organization's defense posture and are important for different reasons.

Internal network penetration tests assess the security of an organization's internal network components like servers, databases and applications. Their objective is to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited by an insider — a malicious employee, someone who could accidentally cause damage, or an outsider who's already gained unauthorized access.

On the other hand, external network penetration tests look for threats from outside an organization caused by cybercriminals. They assess external-facing parts of an organization's network, like websites and web applications, to simulate attacks that cybercriminals perform to gain unauthorized access.

It's not a question of choosing one over the other. Internal and external network penetration tests are complementary layers of a comprehensive cybersecurity approach.

How network penetration testing works

The process of network penetration testing can broadly be divided into seven stages.

  1. Defining the scope: The organization decides which systems to test using which methods and what is off-limits in collaboration with experts or penetration testers.

  2. Gathering information: Testers collect information on the network, like IP addresses and domain names.

  3. Detecting vulnerabilities: Testers identify vulnerabilities in the networking using various manual and automated tools and techniques.

  4. Exploiting the vulnerabilities: Testers exploit the exposed security flaws to try and gain unauthorized access to systems and sensitive data.

  5. Post exploitation: Testers use the information gathered in the previous stages to escalate access into systems and sensitive data to test and demonstrate the impact of a potential attack.

  6. Reporting on the vulnerabilities: Testers report on identified vulnerabilities and recommend security fixes.

  7. Fixing the vulnerabilities: Based on the report, the organization mitigates risks and improves its security posture.

Network penetration tests help organizations get a clear view of the effectiveness of their cyberdefense, helping them make informed and strategic security decisions.

Common misconceptions about network penetration testing

Now that we know what network penetration testing is and how it works, let's dispel common myths.

Myth 1: Network penetration tests are a form of hacking.

While testers' methods may be similar to those deployed by hackers, network penetration testing is an ethical process aiming to protect organizations. The same cannot be said of hacking because the intent is malicious.

Myth 2: You only need to run a network penetration test once.

Several factors determine an organization's security, including the ever-evolving and advancing abilities of threat actors or cybercriminals and changing components in an organization's IT infrastructure.

New threat avenues open frequently due to changes to these factors. Hence, you need to perform network penetration tests often, not just once, to keep up with the changes and identify potential vulnerabilities to mitigate risks and stay ahead of threats.

Myth 3: Network penetration tests are only for large corporations.

Small and medium businesses are prime targets for hackers because these organizations often lack the means to protect themselves efficiently. Roughly 40% of small businesses lose data due to cyberattacks, and about 60% go out of business within six months of a cyberattack. Network penetration testing can help these organizations improve their defense by identifying vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit in advance

Myth 4: Network penetration testing disrupts business operations.

The fear around network penetration testing is understandable. However, you can perform network penetration testing with minimal disruptions using advanced tools and technologies. In addition, you can request to conduct the pentest outside of business hours and on weekends.

Myth 5: Manual network penetration tests are the only way to be compliant.

Compliance requirements vary according to industries and geographies. The scope, frequency and testing requirement for network penetration testing differs for various standards. No one size fits all, and manual network penetration testing is certainly not the only way to be compliant.

Manual vs. automated network penetration testing

Network penetration testing, whether done manually or automatically, offers the clear advantage of identifying and rectifying vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.

With that said, both methods have their pros and cons.

Manual penetration testing is more hands-on and guided by human intuition, allowing you to explore security threats and vulnerabilities through the lens of security experts.

However, it's also prone to human errors and inconsistencies. The methods testers use may fail to keep up with the evolution of threats. More importantly, manual network penetration testing is notoriously time-consuming and costly.

As far as automated network penetration testing is concerned, its efficacy depends on you choosing the right solution. However, if you can manage that, then automated network penetration testing can help you overcome the limitations of manual penetration testing.

Automated network penetration testing enables you to identify vulnerabilities that a malicious actor could exploit faster and more consistently. It's also less prone to human errors and more scalable and cost-effective.

An advanced automated network penetration testing solution like vPenTest from Vonahi Security lets you continuously stay ahead of issues by running tests more frequently and enabling you to monitor your organization's risk profile in near real-time. Improve your network and cybersecurity defenses – explore the benefits of vPenTest today at!

Protecting your business with automated network penetration testing

Given the complexity of modern IT infrastructures and the innovation of new attack methods, network penetration testing is a must-have in your cyber defense because it allows you to proactively check for vulnerabilities and fix them to prevent cyber catastrophes.

While manual penetration testing can be tedious and expensive, automated network penetration testing offers an efficient, cost-effective, and reliable alternative, allowing you to test more frequently with on-demand scheduling and monitor your network in near real-time.

In the battle for greater cybersecurity, automated penetration testing is an effective shield, helping organizations protect against downtime, reputation and financial damages and data loss incidents.

Empower your organization's cybersecurity with Vonahi Security's vPenTest – the industry-leading automated network penetration testing solution. Safeguard your business against cyber threats efficiently, cost-effectively, and in real-time. Join over 8,000 organizations benefiting from vPenTest. Visit Vonahi Security to secure your network and stay ahead of evolving cyber risks.

About Vonahi Security

Vonahi Security, a Kaseya Company, is a pioneer in building the future of offensive cybersecurity consulting services through automation. vPenTest from Vonahi is a SaaS platform that fully replicates manual internal and external network penetration testing, making it easy and affordable for organizations to continuously evaluate cybersecurity risks in real time. vPenTest is used by managed service providers, managed security service providers, and internal IT teams. Vonahi Security is headquartered in Atlanta, GA.

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