The cost of IT downtime can vary significantly by industry and organization size. What does one minute of downtime look like to your organization? One recent study conducted by IDC on the Fortune 1000 found that the average hourly cost of an infrastructure failure is $100,000 per hour. That’s an expensive affair for 60 minutes, which is why many organizations employ pen testing to secure their infrastructure and information from brute force attacks. API keys and SSH logins are also frequent targets of brute force attacks. The login page of a website is frequently targeted by scripts or bots that employ brute force password attacks.
What distinguishes brute force assaults from other cracking techniques is that brute force attacks do not involve an intellectual plan; they just test various character combinations until the correct one is discovered. This is comparable to a criminal attempting to break into a combination safe by trying every possible number combination until the safe unlocks. To know more about brute force attacks and their types, read the blog.
IMPORTANCE OF PEN TESTING
The purpose of a pen test is to strengthen an organization’s defenses against potential threats to better detect, prevent, and respond to security incidents.
Pen testing helps firms evaluate their security by simulating assaults similar to those that hostile hackers would carry out, therefore revealing any vulnerabilities that may go undetected.
To accomplish this, brute-force attackers employ a wide variety of methods. For Penetration, you can use the brute-force attacking tools themselves. “pen testing” is also used to describe this analysis.
The penetration test involves simulating an actual cyberattack on one’s information technology infrastructure. Through this, you can spot potential vulnerabilities.
STEPS OF PEN TESTING
- Preparation and Investigation
The scope of the test, the approach is taken, and any necessary background information for the tester are all things that should be worked out in advance. At this point, both the tester and the target should have a solid grasp of what to expect from one another and what data the tester might have access to.
Scanning is the action of searching for security flaws. Scanning might be static or dynamic. To determine how an app or other target behaves and is tested, static scanning analyzes its source code at a fixed point. It scans the code or other targets while running and provides a real-time look at any issues that may arise. Dynamic scanning is more complex but provides a more helpful test benchmark because it is not a static image.
- Gaining Entrance
When the scanning process is complete, the tester will attempt to breach the system’s or app’s security by using the vulnerabilities discovered during the scan. Depending on the results of the scanning procedure, several tools and approaches may be employed.
- Maintaining Access
It’s one thing to break into a system and steal data or cause damage, but it’s another thing to keep that access going for long enough to do any of those things. At this point in the testing process, we’ll know if the flaws allow an attacker to gather information or plant a more serious security risk on the system. A hacker may only need temporary access to a system to plant a backdoor that grants them permanent, extensive access.
After the test has been completed, the data is analyzed to learn more about the system’s vulnerabilities, the information gained by the tester, and the length of time the connection was maintained. Your security team will be able to patch the holes and prevent “real” attackers from taking advantage of them once they have this information.
What to Look for (and Avoid) When Deciding on a Pen Testing Vendor or Service Provider
1. Make sure the team is experienced and properly trained
This is a significant factor to take into account. Finding a pen test firm that employs skilled pen testers is a must when shopping around for a service. Employees, for instance, would have one of the following professional certifications: CEH, GPEN, GWAPT, OSCP, OSCE, or SANS GXPN. It’s also helpful to find out what kinds of prior work experience are preferred throughout the recruiting process, as well as whether or not the organization provides possibilities for continuous training and growth.
2. Prioritize Risk Avoidance
Inquiring about the company’s systems for vetting new hires’ honesty and integrity is just as crucial as asking about their education and work history. Do prospective employees’ pasts being checked before employment? Does the organization have a system in place for regular security audits? Some form of screening and verification is necessary for pen testers since they can access sensitive information about the company’s internal infrastructure.
- Go with a firm that doesn’t hide anything about the way they do business
When choosing a vendor to outsource penetration testing to, businesses should make sure they use a tried-and-true penetration testing technique. The team must detail what will be tested, for how long, using what tools and methodologies, how sensitive information will be handled, how data will be accessed, and what kind of reports will be sent. Be sure that the company’s capabilities in terms of the services it can offer are commensurate with the requirements of the business.
Make sure the vendor is trustworthy in their service offerings and can confirm their findings through written documentation or verbal communication that highlights the step-by-step methodology used, which can offer reproducible results and can provide realistic solutions if you’re expecting something like an assessment of the organization’s security posture along with clear recommendations.
- Verify if the organization uses cutting-edge practices
Companies can offer a wide range of penetration testing services, using a wide range of pen test tools for different platforms and frameworks that can be modified to suit specific situations.
They should start with the homework. Always hire a company verified as up-to-date in their field with appropriate certificates, credentials, and standards compliance. Verify that while doing security audits, they also employ the most cutting-edge commercial penetration testing tools and methods.
- Make sure a well-thought-out contract is drawn out
You should provide the vendor with a specific window to test your network or application and specify which systems will be “off limits” during that time.
If you’re looking for an on-demand penetration testing service, you must specify the turnaround time for each test. Get the vendor and client to sign a “Rules of Engagement” (ROE) document outlining the parameters of the test and the expectations each party has for the results.
- Securing Information
Even after receiving guarantees during contract negotiation, it is prudent to ask pointed questions concerning the transmission, storage, and disposal of data before transferring it to a third party. For what length of time are files kept? Asking whether there have been any hacking attempts against the firm.
- Verify that the business carries liability coverage
An insured company provides the added safety net. Suppliers must have liability insurance if something goes wrong during testing or an attempted infiltration causes financial damage. Verify that the vendor doing the pen test has insurance that adequately covers any losses due to a leak or breach of sensitive information.
- Verify the credibility of the provider
Pen testing, like any other service, is best sought by established businesses with a solid reputation. In the same way, you would before making any further significant investment, ensure you conduct your due diligence by checking references, reading consumer reviews, and speaking with previous customers if possible.
There is always some degree of danger anytime a third party is granted access to a company’s systems or information, no matter how restricted that access is. Does the vendor have a solid reputation in penetration testing and vulnerability research? Nothing being discussed online in the InfoSec community is a warning sign in and of itself.
- Focusing on a Niche
There’s no reason to automatically rule out a pen testing firm just because they claim to have worked in every imaginable setting and testing situation. With so many options, it’s difficult for any expert to be well-versed and experienced in them all, no matter how well-established the company’s infrastructure may be.
Therefore, it is essential to have an early conversation about the systems, software, and setup that the pen testing tools will be expected to work with and to assess the actual level of competence that the pen testing organization can exhibit with similar installations.
- Watch out for the super-technical language
While penetration testers need to be thorough in their approach, it’s not ideal if management is flooded with technical jargon when discussing the pen testing processes or when getting incomprehensible findings for the layman.
One of the most desirable qualities in a pen tester is the ability to explain complex ideas so executives with little technical knowledge can understand and act upon them. Look at sample reports, ask questions, and evaluate how nebulous the answers are. Look for clarity and shy away from smoke thrown in your eyes.
Top Pen Testing Tools of 2023
1. John the Ripper
It is a password cracker that’s actually a sophisticated penetration testing tool. Password-cracking and system-security auditing software that is freely available to the public. The tool essentially combines various methods for breaking passwords. In addition, it can be adjusted to work with specific penetration testing requirements.
The tool essentially combines various methods for cracking passwords. In addition, it can be adjusted to work with specific penetration testing requirements.
John the Ripper is used by penetration testers to find insecure passwords and gain access to systems, data, and programs. In other words, it sees how vulnerable your passwords and other security measures are to being broken into. John the Ripper is robust for conducting thorough password tests, including both dictionary and brute force attacks.
Passwords in their raw and hashed forms are stored in this tool. John the Ripper finds all possible passwords in a hashed format and then uses brute force to crack the code. Then, it compares each of the hashed passwords to the original hashed password to find a match. In the event of a successful match, this tool will reveal the cracked password in its unfiltered form.
- Excellent for breaking a wide variety of passwords.
- Over 20 languages are available.
- Features tried-and-true pre-built bundles.
- It’s able to automatically identify threading.
- A+ for both Windows and UNIX.
- Set up time is lengthy.
- New, more complex hashes like SHA 256 and SHA 512 require adjustments before they can be broken.
2. Skip Fish
Web application security can be tested automatically with Skip Fish. An effective security tool, it generates a sitemap by crawling and probing application-specific dictionary files. Site maps are useful for a variety of security audits, and they can be accessed by users. If there are any vulnerabilities in the web app, Skip Fish will generate a report to help you fix them. It should serve as the basis for all vulnerability tests performed on web applications.
Common vulnerabilities like SQL injections, command injections, and directory listings can be quickly identified with the help of Skip Fish. This tool’s robust engine allows it to perform security inspections that other tools would struggle to achieve. And in LAN/MAN-based networks, it can process over 2000 requests per second with ease.
Furthermore, Skip Fish can be used to help authenticated websites. As a first step, it has support for HTTP authentication, which is used by sites that need only the most fundamental security measures. When using Skip Fish with a site that needs web application level authentication, you can get Skip Fish the necessary credentials by capturing authentication cookies.
- Implements Ratproxy-like logic for identifying vulnerabilities.
- Capable of identifying flaws in CMSes like WordPress and Joomla.
- It handles thousands of requests with a low central processing unit and memory consumption.
- More than 15 useful modules are supported, making it ideal for penetration testing.
- Good for keeping a tally of something.
- Super intuitive and extremely flexible.
- Provides state-of-the-art security evaluations and checks.
- Does not have a comprehensive library of exploits for banner checks.
- There’s a chance it won’t be compatible with your preferred web app.
Sqlmap is a free and open source pen testing tool that can find and exploit SQL injection vulnerabilities automatically. Strong detection engines and a wide variety of other tools make penetration testing a breeze with this platform. Using connections that are not part of the OS’s normal communication channels, it can retrieve information from SQL-based databases, browse file systems, and run commands.
Sqlmap, being written in Python, runs perfectly on Linux distributions like Ubuntu. SQL injection vulnerabilities in web applications can be found using this method. Password hashing, session retrieval, and other forms of back-end management are all available, and it can detect problems on the target host. Several SQL injection methods, such as those based on errors, time, booleans, blindness, stacking, and UNION queries, are available in Sqlmap.
Sqlmap is compatible with any SQL database, such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, etc. Furthermore, it can be used in a variety of ways by both attackers and defenders. It can be used to simulate attacks against databases. It gives you a SQL shell into the database, where you can enter and run any SQL command you like. You can use dictionary attacks on it to guess user passwords as well. In contrast, it can be used to check servers and web apps for injection vulnerabilities and weak passwords.
- The ability to detect password hash formats automatically.
- Hacking of protected accounts via the web.
- Capable of adding or removing files from the database.
- Locates the database structure mechanically.
- Accepts database dumps.
- Produces many spurious positive results.
- Users need to verify the security holes by hand.
- No graphical user interface.
4. Burp Suite
The Burp Suite is a toolkit for testing the security of websites and web applications. Additionally, it offers a unified environment wherein multiple tools collaborate to locate and exploit security flaws . These tools integrate mapping through analysis without a glitch.
You may combine manual and automated testing with Burp because it allows you full control. Because of this combination, penetration tests can be completed quickly and efficiently. While the Spider creates a map of the target web app or website, the Burp Proxy tool snoops on all HTTP and HTTPs traffic. The Intruder tool can perform a variety of attacks to help identify all potential weak points in security. It also has a number of complementary tools that can help you find security flaws in your websites.
There are three different packages available in the Burp Suite:
- The Enterprise Edition is free for commercial use while the Community Edition is not.
- The community plan is free and open source, while the professional and enterprise editions cost money.
- Detailed guides outline the functionality of each feature.
- Various options for vulnerability testing services.
- Security evaluation is performed by both humans and computers.
- Attacks targets instantly to identify vulnerabilities in their defenses.
- All pages can be mapped instantly using this web app.
- User friendly.
- Lackluster Windows support
- High cost of the premium versions.
Hydra, a password-cracking program, is downloadable for use against Kali Linux installations. This pen testing tool employs many protocols to perform brute-force assaults. The Hydra password breaker employs parallel computing to crack passwords and offers a straightforward API that makes customization easy. Hydra, with both a graphical user interface and a command line interface, is pre-installed on Linux. Debian is a supported OS, although the installation should work on any Linux distribution.
The Hydra attack technique combines brute-force and dictionary assaults designed to compromise user accounts. More complex assaults can be launched, and remote access to networks can be gained, using its many features. It is feasible to guess FTP passwords for known user names on a given host using a dictionary attack or a list of known passwords. One can also use brute force to try to guess a username from the field holding wordlists of usernames.
If a brute force attack on Hydra suddenly stops, the user is provided the opportunity to pick up where they left off. Overall, Hydra provides a great deal of flexibility to attackers in terms of how they might exploit systems. With the correct technique, this pen testing tool prepares secure, hack-proof systems.
- Several brute-force methods to choose from, and practical protocols may be implemented quickly and easily.
- Attacks can be launched through HTTP post forms on target web applications.
- Drupal users may use it to check the safety of their login information.
- Passwords and usernames are tough to crack and take a long time to figure out.
- The open-source community version has less customization options.
Traceroute is built on top of the ICMP protocol, making it a perfect instrument for network security audits. It helps system administrators monitor data packets by showing them a visual picture of their journey from source to sink.
With this tool, you may find out what machines were visited along the road to your intended one. You may use it to find out how many devices are connected to your network and what their IP addresses are.
IP addresses and their related nodes can be uncovered using traceroute. With this strategy, you may determine where issues are originating in your network as they emerge.
Using Traceroute, you may trace a network in a variety of ways, some of which are intended to circumvent security mechanisms like firewalls. On the plus side, there are several brute-force methods to choose from, and practical protocols may be implemented quickly and easily. Attacks can be launched through HTTP post forms on target web applications. Drupal users may use it to check the safety of their login information.
- Superior capacity for tracking network activity.
- A perfect tool for checking the reliability of your internet connection.
- Identifies potential weak spots along all routes.
- Network hops are mapped invisibly, and round-trip times are provided (RTT)
- It’s hard to see patterns because it doesn’t show any background information.
- Incomplete data can be displayed if ICMP requests are blocked by a firewall.
Nessus is a comprehensive security auditing and penetration testing platform. Weak points in computers are scanned for, and the results are utilized to make modifications. Around 1200 checks are performed on a machine by this program. Discovered vulnerabilities can be patched rapidly to restore confidence in the system’s safety.
Nessus does more than just look for vulnerabilities; it also offers guidance on how to fix them. It is a reliable pen testing tool since it verifies the results of each scan to eliminate the possibility of missing real security holes. Custom checks may be programmed in the user’s choice scripting language, and the system is also modifiable.
In addition, Nessus offers one of the largest and most often updated libraries of configuration and vulnerability tests. This ensures unmatched speed, accuracy, and productivity.
This tool may be used to test anything from web apps to cloud virtualization platforms to databases to OSes to network devices. Moreover, it is created to help you meet requirements like PCI DSS.
- Spots both local and remote security flaws.
- Patches and updates for computer security are detected mechanically.
- Used for finding security holes by simulating attacks.
- By scanning applications and auditing configurations, it satisfies regulatory standards.
- Poor compatibility with security information and event management (SIEM) tools like Metasploit.
- If you test on a large scale, performance suffers.
- The basic features are severely lacking in the free version.
If you’re looking for a pen testing tool that uses rainbow tables to deduce passwords from hashes, look no further than RainbowCrack. Rainbow tables are essentially pre-calculated tables of cracked password hashes. A database’s password can be broken with the aid of these tables. Passwords can be cracked and unauthorized access to systems gained in a short amount of time with their help.
Create rainbow tables for easy password cracking with RainbowCrack. This is a sophisticated cracking tool that uses a massive table database to facilitate hacking. In addition to the rainbow tables, it also has lookup, sort, and conversation features that facilitate penetration testing.
- The program has a graphical user interface and a command line interface.
- Compatible with many OSes.
- Incorporates several graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerators, including both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs.
- Supports files in raw format or logarithmic rainbow tables
- Quicker than the standard methods of password cracking.
- If hash is not available in the table, it will not try to crack the password.
- Extremely demanding in terms of RAM and storage space.
Your company’s IT infrastructure needs hard evidence that it can withstand the many forms of cyberattacks, especially brute force attacks. Brute-force attacks can be carried out in many different ways, the most common of which are:
Attempting or submitting thousands of expected and dictionary words, or even random words is a hallmark of hybrid brute force attacks. Password derivation key brute force attacks use exhaustive research to try and guess a user’s password rather than just randomly guessing it.
There is no question that penetration testing is a critical component of securing companies’ information assets. Whether performing pen tests regularly or as part of compliance audits, it is a practice that can help increase awareness in any organization about potential security breaches. This is the crucial reason to acquire pen testing services.
Pen testing tools can identify an organization’s weaknesses by using the same methods an attacker would. Choosing the right vendor is then an essential exercise, and companies need to evaluate several important aspects before entrusting their systems and data to external entities.
Q: What is brute force attack?
Brute force attack is where an attacker tries to guess the correct password or key for a system by trying every combination until the correct one is found. This is generally done by automating the process of guessing and trying different combinations, making it time-consuming yet effective way to crack a password or key.
Q: What is the use of brute force tools in pen testing?
The purpose of using brute force tools in pen testing is to assess the security of the system’s authentication mechanism by attempting to crack passwords or keys. This helps identify the weak passwords and potential weaknesses in the authentication process which malicious attackers could exploit.