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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Control 17: Penetration Tests and Red Team Exercises

Penetration testing is often confused with vulnerability assessments, as mentioned in Control 10. Penetration testing differs in that it involves attempted exploitation. Just like in Control 10, penetration testing should occur in each network zone to ensure adequate coverage.

Track all open issues and document through confirmed remediation of all issues to be corrected. Determine an effective means to document the core causes of these issues to make sure new development projects are not subject to the same flaws identified in the penetration test.

Always perform careful screening of potential external pen testers. Make sure the people you engage to perform external testing have to work for their money and do not just point a tool at your network. Force them to articulate the business risk associated with their findings. Identify and resolve as many issues as is possible ahead of their work. Race to see how fast your continuous monitoring program identifies external penetration testers. If they work for long and have not been identified, there are likely gaps in the continuous monitoring program.

BackTrack makes an excellent preconfigured platform to perform penetration tests. BackTrack can easily be used as the primary environment to build and use an internal pen testing program. With so many tools available, it is a good idea to make a weekly task to learn one tool in BackTrack per week. Make it stick by writing a small note of what was learned for future reference.

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