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Finding Vulnerabilities By Attacking Your Own Environment

Penetration testing can be essential in exposing your organization's security weaknesses -- and you don't always need to hire an outside firm to do it
[Excerpted from "Finding Vulnerabilities By Attacking Your Own Environment," a new report published this week on Dark Reading's Vulnerability Management Tech Center.]

One of the most effective ways to find holes in your organization's IT security is to think -- and act -- like a hacker. Many companies hire outside firms to perform ethical hacks -- penetration testing that reveals any security gaps that a hacker could leverage to gain access to the organization's systems and data.

But some organizations consider tapping an outside firm a risk in itself -- whether to customer data, company reputation or uptime. It may make sense for these organizations to hack themselves. This might seem difficult, or even scary, but many tools, templates and tutorials that will walk security professionals through the process are available. (Bear in mind that these same tools, templates and tutorials are as readily available to black-hat hackers as they are to organizations seeking to hack themselves.)

The basic process for compromising a network hasn't changed much over time. The steps, generally speaking, are to:

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