Network penetration testing is used by organizations to evaluate the susceptibility of information systems to network attacks. By identifying and actually exploiting the weaknesses found in networks, hosts, and devices, penetration testing goes beyond simple vulnerability assessment. Rather than providing a lengthy list of issues an organization may or may not choose to address, network penetration testing helps enterprises grasp the real level of risk posed by specific vulnerabilities.
Presenting companies with a detailed vulnerability report and recommendations for improvement, network penetration testing enables IT departments to validate existing security controls and meet security compliance requirements while allowing managers to better prioritize investment for remediation efforts.
Network Penetration Testing: The Process and Its Limits
Emulating a real-world attack on an organization's network, the network penetration testing process consists of:
- Reconnaissance: Gathering information about the target and mapping the network topology and its hosts and operating systems as well as firewalls and other network security tools
- Network scanning: Using port and vulnerability scanners, packet manipulators, and password cracking utilities to locate points of entry that can be used to compromise a target
- Penetration: Attempting to exploit vulnerabilities like system configuration flaws or weak passwords and break into an organization's information systems
- Reporting: Providing a summary of the penetration process, a list of vulnerabilities categorized by risk level, an analysis of critical issues and suggestions for their resolution
Although network penetration testing is one way of proactively determining actionable items for improving an organization's security posture, it is not an exact science. The results of a penetration test may vary depending on its scope and time frame as well as the abilities of individual testers. Penetration testers will not have access to the same resources criminal hackers do—be it time, cohorts or attack tools. Moreover, penetration testing is costly and when poorly implemented, may result in network congestion, server outages, and system instability.
Always-On Defense-in-Depth: Cloud Security Solutions from Akamai
While network penetration testing is a useful vulnerability management tool, it cannot guarantee the security and continued performance and availability of an organization's websites and applications in an ever-evolving threat landscape, particularly in the face of massive-scale DDoS attacks. Only a globally distributed, instantaneously scalable cloud-based security platform can do that.
Built on the globe-spanning Akamai Intelligent Platform, Akamai's Cloud Security Solutions offer our customers an always-on, in-depth approach to defense:
- Our built-in Kona Site Defender solution absorbs outsized DDoS attacks at the application layer while blocking DDoS traffic at the network layer.
- Our Web Application Firewall detects potential web application attacks in HTTP traffic, filtering out malicious traffic before it reaches your servers—without creating performance chokepoints.
- Our CSIRT team and centralized web security intelligence help us protect your websites and applications from the latest cyber threats, providing you with daily security advisories.
Learn more about how Akamai Cloud Security Solutions can help protect your websites and applications from cyber attacks.