What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing, also known as pentesting or ethical hacking, is an authorized simulated attack performed on a computer system to evaluate its security. The test attempts to access and compromise your network, system and application security. By simulating the actions of a real-world attacker in a controlled environment, pen testing provides a list of your security weaknesses. Penetration testers use the same tools, techniques, and processes as attackers to find and demonstrate the business impacts of weaknesses in a system. Penetration tests usually simulate a variety of attacks that could threaten a business. They can examine whether a system is robust enough to withstand attacks from authenticated and unauthenticated positions, as well as a range of system roles. With the right scope, a pen test can dive into any aspect of a system.

The goal of penetration testing is to help aware of any vulnerabilities before they’re exploited by a cyber-attack. Penetration testing services from a reputable pen test provider is widely considered standard best practice, and pen testing should be a foundational component of your risk management programme. Penetration tests are also required for many certification standards, including PCI DSS, SOC2, ISO 27001 & more.

What are the benefits of penetration testing?

Ideally, software and systems were designed from the start with the aim of eliminating dangerous security flaws. A pen test provides insight into how well that aim was achieved. Pen testing can help an organisation.

  • Find weaknesses in systems
  • Determine the robustness of controls
  • Support compliance with data privacy and security regulations (e.g., PCI DSSHIPAAGDPR)
  • Provide qualitative and quantitative examples of current security posture and budget priorities for management

What are the types of pen testing?

There is no one-size-fits-all tool for pen testing. Instead, different targets require different sets of tools for port scanning, application scanning, Wi-Fi break-ins, or direct penetration of the network. Broadly speaking, the types of pen testing tools fit into five categories.

  • Reconnaissance tools for discovering network hosts and open ports
  • Vulnerability scanners for discovering issues in-network services, web applications, and APIs
  • Proxy tools such as specialized web proxies or generic man-in-the-middle proxies
  • Exploitation tools to achieve system footholds or access to assets
  • Post exploitation tools for interacting with systems, maintaining and expanding access, and achieving attack objectives

 Why your organisation needs a penetration test

Penetration testing services are widely recognised as the best way to stay on top of evolving cyber threats and prevent data breaches. It’s recommended to perform a pen test at least once a year, and on significant change to your infrastructure.

  • Prevent data breaches & reputation loss
  • Bid for commercial contracts & tenders
  • Meet or maintain compliance requirements
  • Due diligence & supply chain security
  • Inspire customer confidence
  • Secure software development (SDLC)

Boost your compliance with penetration testing

Given its position as an essential best practice, penetration testing is either recommended or required for a wide range of information security and cyber security standards. Using a reputable pen test service provider will directly help your business meet compliance with:

  • ISO 27001
  • SOC 2
  • FTC Safeguards
  • GDPR
  • And more


Contact Alpha IT

For more information on our disaster recovery-as-a-service contact Alpha IT on 0118 966 4588 or email