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Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/19/2007
03:18 AM
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Pen Testing Goes Reality TV

New CourtTV documentary 'Tiger Team' will follow real pen testers hired to hack businesses

1:18 PM -- Those of us in the security industry know how exciting and glamorous our work is, while the average person sees it as black magic. (Stop laughing -- I know that’s a stretch.) But a new reality TV show (think documentary, not a contest) will air on CourtTV beginning on December 25 that may dispel the myths about -- and shed some light on -- what we do. The show follows a professional penetration testing team that's hired to compromise businesses through physical, electronic, and social means.

The name of the show is “Tiger Team,” a term rooted in military history as a description of the teams who tested the security of military bases, government buildings, and ally installations. Tiger teams began with physical security, but quickly moved to computer networks as they became more prevalent. The term eventually was replaced by penetration testers or ethical hackers.

I think the show could potentially have a positive influence on how companies view penetration testing, which may lead them to choose pen testing to compliment the basic vulnerability and risk assessments they perform. IT workers who’ve been subjected to audits where they only received a Nessus vulnerability scan printout could finally see that there's more to pen testing than running an automated scanner and fixing the bad stuff it flags.

Coincidentally, the SANS Institute is offering a new course titled Network Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking which really couldn’t come at a better time. The show could prompt current pen-tester wannabes to seek training. Better yet, it could help companies seeking pen-testing services to know what to look for when they are hiring a pen-testing team -- such as asking for samples of real reports, talking to previous customers, and asking what types of technologies and techniques they employ.

I’m looking forward to the first few episodes of this new show to see how it presents pen testing in a way that interests general viewers. If you tune in, let me know what you think via our message boards.

– John H. Sawyer is a security geek on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. He enjoys taking long war walks on the beach and riding pwnies. When he'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

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