Perimeter

11/19/2008
04:33 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
50%
50%

Internal vs. External Penetration Testing

In the past, I've talked about the merits of penetration testing (a.k.a. pen-testing) and several related tools. One thing I've not covered much is the difference between internal and external pen-testing. Today's Webcast, "Zen and the Art of Maintaining an Internal Penetration Testing Program," by Paul Asadoorian of PaulDotCom (which has a great weekly security podcast) is what started me thin

In the past, I've talked about the merits of penetration testing (a.k.a. pen-testing) and several related tools. One thing I've not covered much is the difference between internal and external pen-testing. Today's Webcast, "Zen and the Art of Maintaining an Internal Penetration Testing Program," by Paul Asadoorian of PaulDotCom (which has a great weekly security podcast) is what started me thinking about the differences between the two.External pen-testing is the traditional, more common approach to pen-testing. It addresses the ability of a remote attacker to get to the internal network. The goal of the pen-test is to access specific servers and crown jewels within the internal network by exploiting externally exposed servers, clients, and people. Whether it's an exploit against a vulnerable Web application or tricking a user into giving you his password over the phone, allowing access to the VPN, the end game is getting from the outside to the inside.

Internal pen-testing takes a different approach -- one that simulates what an insider attack could accomplish. The target is typically the same as external pen-testing, but the major differentiator is the "attacker" either has some sort of authorized access or is starting from a point within the internal network. Insider attacks have the potential of being much more devastating than an external attack because insiders already have the knowledge of what's important within a network and where it's located, something that external attackers don't usually know from the start.

In addition to Paul's Webcast, the other item that put me into an attack mindset was this morning's release of Metasploit Framework 3.2. The latest version includes a slew of new exploits and features for handling packet injection and capture, additions for speeding up exploit development, automatic exploitation of Web browsers using the included client-side attacks, and more. Metasploit is an incredibly full-featured pen-testing tool that should be included in every security professional's toolkit. Definitely take a look at Paul's Webcast; he has a lot of great real-world examples of using tools for conducting an internal pen-test.

John H. Sawyer is a Senior Security Engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Russia Hacked Clinton's Computers Five Hours After Trump's Call
Robert Lemos, Technology Journalist/Data Researcher,  4/19/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
Why We Need a 'Cleaner Internet'
Darren Anstee, Chief Technology Officer at Arbor Networks,  4/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-0218
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
A vulnerability was discovered wherein a specially crafted URL could enable reflected XSS via JavaScript in the pony mail interface.
CVE-2019-11383
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
An issue was discovered in the Medha WiFi FTP Server application 1.8.3 for Android. An attacker can read the username/password of a valid user via /data/data/com.medhaapps.wififtpserver/shared_prefs/com.medhaapps.wififtpserver_preferences.xml
CVE-2019-11459
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
The tiff_document_render() and tiff_document_get_thumbnail() functions in the TIFF document backend in GNOME Evince through 3.32.0 did not handle errors from TIFFReadRGBAImageOriented(), leading to uninitialized memory use when processing certain TIFF image files.
CVE-2019-11460
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
An issue was discovered in GNOME gnome-desktop 3.26, 3.28, and 3.30 prior to 3.30.2.2, and 3.32 prior to 3.32.1.1. A compromised thumbnailer may escape the bubblewrap sandbox used to confine thumbnailers by using the TIOCSTI ioctl to push characters into the input buffer of the thumbnailer's control...
CVE-2019-8452
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-22
A hard-link created from log file archive of Check Point ZoneAlarm up to 15.4.062 or Check Point Endpoint Security client for Windows before E80.96 to any file on the system will get its permission changed so that all users can access that linked file. Doing this on files with limited access gains t...