Penetration Tester – A penetration test, or “pen test,” is a way to check the security of an IT system by safely exploiting flaws. This issue could be found in operating systems, services, apps, or how people interact with these systems and applications. They could also result from incorrect setups or unsafe behavior on users. Such tests can also be used to make sure that defenses work and that users follow security rules.
What is Penetration Tester?
Penetration testing is usually done with manual or automated tools to get into servers, endpoints, web applications, wireless networks, network devices, mobile devices, and other places where hackers could get in. Once a vulnerability has been exploited on a system, testers may use the compromised system to launch more attacks on other internal resources, such as gaining more security clearance and deeper access to electronic assets and information through privilege escalation.
Information about any security flaws that were successfully exploited during penetration testing is usually gathered together and presented to IT and network system managers. This helps them make strategic decisions and prioritize remediation efforts. The main goal of penetration testing is to find out how easy it is for systems or users to be hacked and how these incidents might affect resources or operations.
Penetration Tester Career Guide
There are a lot of people who want to be penetration testers. This might be the right job if you know a lot about doing pen tests and vulnerability assessments, exploiting systems, and communicating your findings.
There are many ways for an IT person to become a penetration tester. So how do you know what to do? Unfortunately, there is no single answer. Pen testers come from all different types of jobs. It doesn’t matter if they’re network administrators or engineers, system or software developers, graduates with IT security degrees, or even hackers who learned to do it independently. Even if the professional already has skills and knowledge, all pen testers need to get the right mix of formal knowledge and hands-on experience to succeed in their job. In addition, they need to be trained, desire to stay up to date on new technology and stay one step ahead of hackers.
“Ethical hackers” use their skills and knowledge to look for holes in computer systems. They also get paid to do the digital equivalent of breaking into a computer.
Some of the tools and procedures they employ to imitate real cyber-attacks are made up by them. In addition, they leave no stone unturned to find holes in security protocols for networks, systems, and web-based applications.
A penetration test, or “pen test,” aims to find security flaws before they can be exploited by real hackers. This way, they’ll be able to catch them before they get inside. Because pen testers often work on confidential and time-sensitive projects, they need to be trustworthy and cool under pressure.
Pen testers are in high demand because there are not enough people who are good at this job. You’ll find useful information in this article about possible jobs and ways to learn if you’re interested.
What does a Penetration Tester do?
Pen testers often analyze threats, assess security, and ethical hack networks, systems, and online applications. Assurance validation includes any or all of the following tasks:
- Gather and evaluate OSINT for information disclosures.
- Provide subject matter expertise in offensive security testing, helping to test an organization’s protective measures.
- Evaluate a diverse range of technologies and implementations using automated and manual tools.
- Create scripts, tools, and procedures to improve testing.
- Would you please assist with scoping new engagements, taking them through implementation and remediation?
- Conduct social engineering and penetration testing.
- Examine wired and wireless networks for flaws.
- Examine assessment data to generate a complete analytic view of the system in its context.
- Resolve technical and non-technical issues.
- Publish an Assessment Report detailing results and possible countermeasures.
- Monitor and exchange findings that arise across several different evaluations.
- After assessments, communicate techniques, findings, and analysis.
- Assist ISOs in correcting assessment findings.
- Aid in forensic examination of compromised systems by providing technical support in network exploitation and evasion strategies.
Penetration Tester Roles and Responsibilities
- Formalize computer system testing
- Examine the software and hardware security
- Create and use hacking tools to access specific data during security assessments and legal cyber-attack simulations.
- Make security system hacking tools
- Find and fix system flaws
- Make recommendations based on an evaluation of hardware and software
- Enhance data security with solutions
- Support IT
- You’ll need to understand complicated computer systems and cyber security jargon. You must:
- Work with clients to define test requirements, such as number and type of systems to test
- Plan and execute penetration tests
- Remote or onsite testing of a client’s network for security flaws
- To test a system’s relative security
- Make reports and recommendations based on your findings, including security issues and risk level
- Suggest ways to fix or reduce system security risks
- Report your results, risks, and conclusions to management.
- Analyses the impact on the business and its users
- Grasp how unfixed defects can impact a business or business function.
How to become a Penetration Tester?
Penetration testers are “ethical hackers” or “nice guys.” Security penetration testers, also known as assurance validators, are recruited by network system owners and web-based application providers to search for vulnerabilities that malevolent hackers could exploit to steal sensitive data and information from their systems.
Ethical hackers use their skills and knowledge to undertake vulnerability assessments (among other things) and are compensated for performing the equivalent of digital break-ins.
Various tools and methodologies are used to simulate real cyber-attacks, some of which they have built themselves. In addition, they leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of security holes in network, system, and web-based application security protocols, which they believe are widespread.
Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
Penetration testers might be hired without a specialized degree if they have relevant hacking abilities and work experience. However, many pen-testing professions demand a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cyber security, computer science, or information technology.
Computer science or IT degree programs cover operating systems, programming languages, network tools, and computer hardware and software. Specialized coursework in encryption, forensics, vulnerability analysis, and security frameworks and technologies is also available through cybersecurity-focused programs.
Step 2: Acquire Knowledge
Pen testing positions typically require 1-4 years of expertise in information security, with higher-level positions requiring 3-10 years of experience in vulnerability assessment or network penetration testing. Penetration tester positions at the entry-level often require 1-4 years of prior work experience in IT activities such as system administration, security administration, network administration, or network engineering.
Many penetration testing professions also demand professional experience in penetration testing, vulnerability assessment, or information security due to the expertise required to break into information systems.
Furthermore, recent graduates and professionals frequently use appropriate internships or IT support positions to qualify for entry-level positions. Internships are common in many degree programs, allowing students to network, gain mentors, and develop real-world information security skills.
Step 3: Develop the Required Skills
Penetration testers require both technical and analytical skills to detect security flaws. In addition, these experts require creativity and problem-solving skills to develop tools for breaking into security systems or developing new solutions. Pen testers must also understand computer security, including forensics, system analysis, and the coding abilities required to breach networks.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
Aspiring penetration testers can obtain skills through online courses and certification programs such as ECSA. Many roles require certificates and the penetration mentioned above: education and work experience. The most common qualifications required are extensive security certified professional, certified penetration tester, and certified expert penetration tester. Several cybersecurity-related certification alternatives are available from professional organizations, technological businesses, and online colleges, so do your homework.
What is the skill required to become a Penetration Tester?
To work in this industry, you’ll normally need a bachelor’s degree in information security, significant knowledge of computer operating systems, and at least two to four years of relevant experience in an information security role to get started.
Useful degree subjects include:
- Cyber security
- Computer science
- Forensic computing
- Computer systems engineering.
- Computing and information systems
- Network management
You’ll almost always be expected to have one or more professional qualifications in addition to applicable degree qualifications (trainee and graduate roles will usually include training and certification in these qualifications as part of the role).
- CREST Registered Penetration Tester (CRT)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Certification
- GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) Certification
While employers want or require applicants to have industry credentials in ethical hacking, penetration testing, or other facets of IT security, many organizations may prefer or require applicants to have hands-on experience in pen testing, both general and specialized.
The following are some of the most popular penetration tester certification programs:
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Penetration Tester (CPT)
- Certified Expert Penetration Tester (CEPT)
- GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)
- Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT)
- Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
- Certified Mobile and Web Application Penetration Tester (CMWAPT)
You’ll need the following items:
Outstanding oral and written communication to explain your approaches to technical and non-technical audience attention to detail, to be able to plan and perform tests while considering client needs an in-depth understanding of computer systems and their functioning
- The ability to think deliberately and creatively to breach security systems
- To meet client deadlines, you’ll need solid time management and organizational skills.
- To be trusted with highly confidential information, you must have ethical integrity.
- Collaboration abilities, the capacity to think laterally and ‘beyond the box,’ to encourage colleagues and exchange techniques
- Excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities, the perseverance to try numerous approaches to get the work done, business skills to comprehend the ramifications of any flaws you discover, and a commitment to keeping your technical knowledge base up to date.
Penetration Tester Sample Job Description
In addition to the preceding abilities, a penetration tester must be able to “think like the enemy” to counter the whole variety of hacking techniques and strategies.
Planning and performing tests, documenting your methods, writing extensive reports about your results, and maybe devising remedies and upgrading security measures will be part of your task.
- Pen test computer systems, networks, and applications.
- Create novel testing methods to find flaws
- Physically inspect systems, servers, and other network devices to discover vulnerable regions.
- Identify attack tactics and entry sites for attackers to exploit flaws.
- Find flaws in popular software, web apps, and proprietary systems.
- Investigate further and communicate your findings with the IT staff and upper management.
- Review and comment on data security fixes
- Set up upgrades for existing security services such as hardware and software.
- Identify areas for improvement in security education and user awareness
- When testing, be mindful of company concerns (i.e., minimize downtime and loss of employee productivity)
- Keep up with new malware and security risks.
How to Find Penetration Tester Jobs?
“Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible’ hacking into a CIA computer while dangling horizontally from wires in a heavily fortified room,” according to a DarkReading article (“So You Want to Be a Penetration Tester”).
Starting as a programmer or systems administrator will teach you so much about how systems work that spotting weaknesses will become second nature. Practical experience is stressed.
“The beginning is the evaluation, the middle is the exciting part like getting into a system, and the finish is the documenting and transmitting those results to a client,” says security expert David Maynor. Nobody does pen testing well unless they accomplish all of those things.”
Most of the work is done from home for penetration testing consultants, but there is also a significant amount of travel to and from project locations.
The Cyberseek supply/demand heat map shows the US cybersecurity hotspots. Consider job advertisements on cyber- or technology-specific or government websites, such as:
What is Penetration Tester Salary 2022?
Graduate or junior penetration testers can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 as a starting salary.
With experience, you can earn between £40,000 and £65,000, with senior and team leader roles paying up to £70,000. However, depending on your business, this figure can be much higher.
Penetration testers who work for themselves can earn between £400 and £500 per day.
Salaries are determined by several criteria, including your abilities, experience, qualifications, location, type of business you work for (in-house or consultancy), and industry in which you operate.
Bonuses, a company pension plan, private medical insurance, gym membership, and sponsored training and development opportunities are common employee benefits.
The income statistics are only intended to be used as a guide.