Summarizing the Five Phases of Penetration Testing.
In the ethical hacker class on our website, the course begins by recapping the five phases of penetration testing. Essentially, the five phases of pen testing is a module that summarizes what the rest of the ethical hacker class is going to look like. The five phases refer to each primary step in the process of operating a penetration test, and the concept is critical for a new entrant into the field. Here is a brief overview of the five phases of penetration testing:
Phase 1 | Reconnaissance:
Reconnaissance is the act of gathering preliminary data or intelligence on your target. The data is gathered in order to better plan for your attack. Reconnaissance can be performed actively (meaning that you are directly touching the target) or passively (meaning that your recon is being performed through an intermediary).
Phase 2 | Scanning:
The phase of scanning requires the application of technical tools to gather further intelligence on your target, but in this case, the intel being sought is more commonly about the systems that they have in place. A good example would be the use of a vulnerability scanner on a target network.
Phase 3 | Gaining Access:
Phase 3 gaining access requires taking control of one or more network devices in order to either extract data from the target, or to use that device to then launch attacks on other targets.
Phase 4 | Maintaining Access:
Maintaining access requires taking the steps involved in being able to be persistently within the target environment in order to gather as much data as possible. The attacker must remain stealthy in this phase, so as to not get caught while using the host environment.
Phase 5 | Covering Tracks:
The final phase of covering tracks simply means that the attacker must take the steps necessary to remove all semblance of detection. Any changes that were made, authorizations that were escalated etc. all must return to a state of non-recognition by the host network’s administrators.