5 Reasons Black Box Penetration Testing Supports Cyber Resilience

black box penetration testing

Preventing cyber threats is the core philosophy of cyber resilience. The ability to withstand and recover is critical for any organization. While you can’t eliminate all risks, you can put your company in a position to be proactive rather than reactive. Black Box Penetration Testing supports this initiative by finding vulnerabilities before cybercriminals do.

In today’s modern cyber ecosystem, you can’t afford to be the victim of a cyberattack. This post will review how Black Box Penetration Testing helps your quest for cyber resilience.

What Is Black Box Penetration Testing?

Black Box Penetration Testing describes an exercise wherein testers have little information about the business or its cyber infrastructure. Ethical hackers simulate cyberattacks to find security vulnerabilities.

Those performing the test use the same tools and techniques as real cybercriminals. The “box” part of the term refers to the level of access. Black indicates the least amount and is the most realistic hacker scenario, as the attack is external.

What Systems Does Black Box Penetration Testing Involve?

With this type of pen test, the results deliver insights into how secure your network is. Testers can attempt to exploit weaknesses in three different ways.

An external attack is the most common scenario. In this approach, ethical hackers attempt to infiltrate your internet-facing systems.

The second option is via rogue devices. A tester could plant this into the environment to intercept traffic and reroute it through a cellular network. Those testing can gain control in this manner and launch attacks from the outside.

The third possibility is an internal intruder exercise. The ethical hacker would access an internal environment and then scan it to exploit a connected device.

Applying Black Box Pen Tests can cover several use cases, depending on your organization’s cyber footprint. Some examples include:

  • Fuzzing: This process tests web interfaces for missing input checks. Testers use noise injection, which is the insertion of data that’s either random or specially created. If there’s an opportunity for exploitation here, it may indicate the absence of appropriate checks in software.
  • Data analysis: In this use case, testers review data from target applications so they can get insights into the internal functions of that target.
  • Syntax tests: This option tests data input formats in systems. Testers may add input that’s incorrect or has missing elements. The goal is to determine the outcomes should inputs deviate from the syntax.

Pen tests are customizable to fit your organization’s needs, but they all follow the same steps.

What Are the Steps of a Black Box Pen Test?

Penetration tests have six phases. Here’s how they work:

1. Reconnaissance and Planning

Before testing teams dive into attack mode, they take time to collect information about the target through a variety of sources. They can search online, seek to obtain domain registration information, use social engineering, and other tactics.

With this intelligence, they devise their attack plan. In this first step, you and your cybersecurity pen testing firm define the scope and goals.

2. Scanning

In the second step, it’s time to begin the hunt for vulnerabilities. Acting as real hackers, testers search for application security issues and open-source weaknesses. In this phase, those conducting the test want to understand better how a system will react in the face of intrusions. Testers will use techniques to inspect code that’s static or dynamic.

3. Gaining Access

Next, it’s time to deploy attacks to attain access. Ethical hackers leverage tools and strategies to breach based on the scope of the pen test. Common tactics include:

  • Cross-site scripting
  • SQL injection
  • Malware
  • Social engineering
  • Backdoors

The exercise would then culminate in exploiting a vulnerability to seize data, intercept traffic, or create other compromises.

4. Maintaining Access

Once inside your system, testers attempt to stay there to obtain a persistent presence. If they can, they can go even deeper into your network. Their presence could be long periods, even months, mimicking how real hackers “stick around” to do damage.

5. Analysis and Remediation

After the pen test, your provider issues a report. It will detail these elements:

  • Each vulnerability identified, its exploitability, and how they accomplished it
  • Results of attempts to gain access to confidential or protected data and if they were able to extract or manipulate it
  • How long testers remained in the system without detection

These learnings become the foundation for remediation efforts. From it comes a plan with priority levels for fixing existing vulnerabilities.

6. Retesting

Black Box Penetration Testing isn’t a one-time exercise. You must continue to evaluate continuously. An immediate retest after remediation validates that you made the proper fixes. However, new vulnerabilities will always emerge. Additionally, pen testing supports compliance with many cybersecurity regulations.

Further retesting should be done on a regular cadence. Other events may prompt a retest, such as:

  • Network infrastructure or application additions
  • Security patching
  • Infrastructure or application upgrades
  • Establishment of new locations

Black Box Penetration Testing is a hallmark of any proactive security strategy, so its connection to cyber resilience has many synergies.

What Is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber resilience refers to the combination of business continuity, cybersecurity, and organizational adaptability. It’s the ability to deliver continuously the intended outcomes when facing risk within the cyber landscape. It can be a risk from hackers, natural disasters, or other adverse events.

Why Does Cyber Resilience Matter?

In short, it’s all about continuity. If your systems suffer unplanned outages, you’ll experience disruption to your operations that can lead to financial losses and reputational harm. Pursuing cyber resilience puts your organization in a better position to prevail. In this state, you may gain a competitive edge by creating more efficient operations.

Other benefits include:

  • It’s much more cost-effective than a breach: On average, a data breach costs a company $4.45 million. Cyber resilience, achieved through pen testing, is a fraction of this.
  • Customers and partners will have more reasons to trust you: If you’re focused on resilience and using tools like pen tests, you can demonstrate your cyber posture. Also, you can earn compliance certifications for things like SOC 2 Type 2.

How Black Box Penetration Testing Aligns with Cyber Resilience

In seeking cyber resilience, Black Box Penetration Testing has a role to play. In looking at the steps of adopting this position, you can see how pen testing supports it.

1. Building a Cyber Resilience Strategy

Everything starts with a strategy! You can develop this internally or with the help of cyber experts. It involves defining critical assets and what weaknesses they face, which is achievable with pen testing.

2. Creating a Cyber Resilience Design

Next, you’ll establish necessary controls and processes to prevent harm to your critical assets. You’d also determine who has the authority to act on these. Again, pen testing, completed regularly, would be part of this design.

3. Transitioning to Cyber Resilience

As you shift toward this strategy, you’re assessing the controls you have in place. You also need to know how they’ll respond when under any stress, internal or external. It’s a scenario of what will happen if, and this can be a pen test use case.

4. Operationalizing Cyber Resilience

After developing the strategy, design, and transition, you should be able to operationalize cyber resilience. It’s an ongoing proactive approach that involves regular control and pen testing to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

5. Evolving Cyber Resilience

Cybersecurity is a dynamic environment. There are always new threats, and hackers are always weaponizing tactics. Thus, cyber resilience must be flexible to account for these things. What you learn from pen testing and other cybersecurity measures helps shape this.

In addition to supporting cyber resilience, there are many other benefits of Black Box Penetration Tests.

Black Box Penetration Test Benefits

You can expect these benefits from Black Box Pen Tests:

  • Continuous enhancement of security: Real-world attack scenarios by pen testers find your weaknesses. With this information, you can correct them before hackers exploit them. Continuous pen tests will improve your security.
  • Maintaining compliance: Regulatory requirements are a necessity in many industries. Achieving them includes pen testing. Black Box Penetration Tests will be instrumental in meeting these rules.
  • Risk management improvements: If you can locate and mitigate risks, you have more context regarding the potential for breaches and how to avoid them.
  • Threat detection progression: Pen tests are excellent providers of threat landscape intelligence. It brings light to areas where there’s no visibility. In doing so, you can improve the ability to detect and respond to an incident.
  • Greater visibility of your technology ecosystem: Black Box Pen Tests assist you in understanding all aspects of technology and the inherent risks. With this information, you can improve how you design, implement, and use technology.
  • Being better prepared: Pen tests put you in an attack scenario that brings to your attention the gaps or errors in your security framework. Over time, you are much more aware and ready.

You can yield all these benefits and more with pen testing. Key to these exercises being of value is who’s performing them. Our team of pen test experts delivers the experience you expect and more. Contact us today to schedule a discovery session to learn more.

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