Cyberlogic Insights

Understanding Penetration Testing

Let's delve into the world of penetration testing, exploring its definition, purpose, and the crucial role it plays beyond regulatory requirements.

What is Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, often referred to in the cyber security industry as “pen testing” or “ethical hacking”, is far more than a compliance checkbox. It's the simulated battlefield on which organisations stress-test their cyber security defences, revealing vulnerabilities to be remediated in an effort to fortify their security posture.

Let's delve into the world of penetration testing, exploring its definition, purpose, and the crucial role it plays beyond regulatory requirements. 

At its core, penetration testing is the proactive simulation of a real-world cyber-attack. The goal is to uncover vulnerabilities in an organisation's digital infrastructure and evaluate the readiness of its people and processes in the face of likely threats. While compliance plays a part, the primary purpose of pen testing is to mimic the specific tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of potential hackers.

Beyond Compliance: Testing People and Processes:

Penetration testing is about so much more than simply meeting compliance standards. It tests both the human and procedural elements of your organisation's cyber security strategy.

A penetration test's true value lies in its ability to simulate realistic threat scenarios. This means penetration testers must first understand what type of attack is likely for a specific organisation as well as which tactics adversaries are likely to employ. By understanding this and simulating an attack, pen testers are able to provide invaluable insights into the organisation’s actual cyber security posture. This pragmatic approach helps identify not only technical vulnerabilities but also the effectiveness of security processes and the preparedness of the team to manage a real-life breach.

How are pen tests carried out?

Penetration tests start with a reconnaissance phase, where pen testers (often referred to as “Red Teamers”) gather information needed to carry out a simulated attack. Once they have the info they need, their focus shifts to gaining and maintaining access to the system, which can often require a broad set of tools and skills.

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The 5 stages of penetration testing: Planning, Reconnaissance, Gaining/Maintaining Access, Analysis, Remediation

Penetration testing involves several stages, each contributing to a comprehensive assessment. Below is a high-level overview of the five stages, which we’ll unpack further in an upcoming post.

  1. Planning sets the foundation, defining the scope and objectives.
  2. Reconnaissance involves gathering information about the target, laying the groundwork for the attack.
  3. Gaining and maintaining access simulates how attackers might infiltrate and persist in the network.
  4. Analysis dissects the findings.
  5. Remediation involves implementing fixes and fortifying defences.

In the dynamic landscape of cyber security, pen testing serves as a linchpin for organisations striving to not only meet compliance standards but fortify their defences against evolving threats as well.

By understanding the essence of penetration testing, from its definition to its practical purpose beyond compliance, organisations can harness its power to simulate, evaluate, and strengthen their cyber security resilience.

At Cyberlogic, we offer a comprehensive suite of cyber security solutions, which includes penetration testing, and vulnerability identification, management, and remediation. To find out more about our cyber security solutions, visit our website or reach out to us on

Read the previous post in the series.

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