What is “penetration” and why should it be tested? In this article we will try to open some secrets of this mystical job.

There are large companies, in which owners are some “Big Daddies” and there daily and hard are working many programmers who write code and sometimes make mistakes. The reasons of errors are different: because of stupidity, because of laziness or because of ignorance of the technology, and most often because of coming deadlines that do not allow you to think logic and cover the code with tests.

In a software product, any error is a potential vulnerability.

Vulnerability is already a potential risk. And risk is kind of bad, and you can lose money (in general, you can lose a lot of things: customer data, intellectual property, reputation, but all this is calculated in money).

And what do you think? “Big Daddies” decide not to rush programmers, take them to safe development courses, give time to perfect the code and offer them a foot massage? Of course not. “Big Daddies” decide to accept these risks (reduce, transfer, insure and many other buzzwords).

Over time, the amount of data began to grow significantly, but the arrogance of hackers grew even faster. The damage from hacking began to exceed acceptable limits. Also, users began to realize the value of their “very important” personal data.

Everyone immediately understood that information security is not something of no consequence.

Here the most respected people said that of course they would imprison evil hackers (which they would reach for), but everyone else needed to take responsibility for their activities and take necessary information security measures. They issued instructions, struck with a hammer and fled.

An important point for the reader: “businesses,” of course, can say that your privacy is very important to them, the data will not be transmitted to anyone else and every bit of information will be under control of a specially trained person, but in fact – nobody cares. The main motivators for providing information security are:

  • regulatory requirements (otherwise heavy fines);
  • preventing hackers from stealing a lot (as it can lead to bankruptcy);
  • reputation maintenance (so that gullible users further carry the money to the company).

In general, from the beginning no one was bothered much, they developed some smart pieces of paper, bought certified equipment, hired certified specialists (or rather, bought pieces of paper for their current workers), and everything seemed to be safe at first glance. But as everyone understands, one piece of paper in real life doesn’t solve anything.

Again, the “Big daddies” got together and decided: in order to defend against an attacker, you must think like an attacker. Not necessarily by yourself, you can just formalize this process, hire specially trained people “in jackets”, and let them hack yourself, and the output will be a new piece of paper, but already a “technical report”!

So, a “pentester” in a simple way is someone who imitates the work of a real hacker, thereby testing the organization for the possibility of penetration and gaining access to confidential information.

How to test? From where? Where to penetrate? Which information to get? What are the limitations? – all these details are agreed upon start of operations.

From the outside, it seems that the job is easy and highly paid, plus the market is not crowded with specialists. So nowadays many students want to become “cool hackers”, sit at home on the couch and press a couple of buttons, hacking IT giants. But is it that simple?