While it can be helpful, perhaps in the context of budgeting and office politics, to present your boss with a report...
By submitting your personal information, you agree that TechTarget and its partners may contact you regarding relevant content, products and special offers.
that proves even someone who has no inside knowledge of the new website can hack into it, I have several reservations about the zero-knowledge approach. We know that a certain percentage of attacks are going to come from inside the network perimeter, or from the outside with insider help. If you want to know how secure your site is across all real-world scenarios, zero knowledge is not necessarily the best starting point.
A zero-knowledge approach also has the potential drawback of being slower to return results. If you describe some of the basics of your system to the tester beforehand, it can save time, and time is often tight when a new product is being rolled out. One important variable here is the status of the target: is it in production or in development? When testing a production system, you may want testers to let you know about a gaping hole as soon as it is discovered, rather than waiting until the final report. Provided the contract with the tester is appropriately worded, you may be able to patch the hole and get the patch tested. Indeed, some would argue that treating a pen-test as an iterative improvement in security is better bang for the buck.
Finally, whether you choose to proceed from a zero-knowledge starting point, remember that you can't truly replicate the real world without breaking the law. You must assume your attackers are prepared to commit illegal acts to achieve their ends, but few organizations are in a position to give their pen-testers a get-out-of-jail-free card. So, you will want your pen-tester to be able to think like a criminal hacker and document for you those methods of penetrating the system that rely on illegal acts.
The bottom line is that the real world and a pen-test are two different things, and your security money may be best spent having seasoned security experts explore the potential vulnerabilities of your product while armed with plenty of knowledge about it, rather than setting up unrealistic testing scenarios.
- Get advice on how to use penetration testing to help with compliance efforts.
- Social engineering testing and penetration testing: Learn how they mix.
Dig Deeper on Security Testing and Ethical Hacking
Related Q&A from Michael Cobb
A privacy breach at ClixSense led to user account details being put up for sale. Expert Michael Cobb explains how companies should be held ...continue reading
A password-verification flaw in iOS 10 allowed attackers to decrypt local backups. Expert Michael Cobb explains how removing certain security checks ...continue reading
HTTP public key pinning, a security mechanism to prevent fraudulent certificates, was not used by Firefox, and left it open to attack. Expert Michael...continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.