Black Box Penetration Testing


As ethical (white hat) hackers, we emulate an attacker by utilizing similar techniques to perform reconnaissance, identify vulnerabilities, and break into your systems.  Unlike an attacker, however, we stop our test before exposing sensitive data or doing harm to your environment.  With a Black Box Penetration Test we have unauthenticated access and have little prior knowledge, except the IP Address, domain name, or URL, about the systems in scope. 

A Black Box Penetration Test is commonly used as an external penetration test against an organization's Internet-facing systems, such as the following:

  • Web Servers
  • VPN Concentrators
  • Firewalls
  • Routers
  • Proxy Servers
  • DNS Servers
  • Mail (SMTP Servers)
  • Custom Application Servers
  • Cloud Services

We have performed many external Black Box Penetration Tests against the above systems. 

Are aircraft hackable?

Are aircraft hackable?

We've also performed Black Box Penetration Tests against embedded systems and LRUs (Line Replaceable Units) that integrate into larger systems, such as commercial aircraft, weapon systems, or SCADA/ICS systems. A few examples of what we've tested:

  • Medical devices
  • Commercial aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Offshore Drilling Platforms


We follow a seven phase methodology designed to maximize our efficiency, minimize risk, and provide complete and accurate results. The overarching seven phases of the methodology are:

  1. Planning and Preparation
  2. Reconnaissance / Discovery
  3. Vulnerability Enumeration / Analysis
  4. Initial Exploitation
  5. Expanding Foothold / Deeper Penetration
  6. Cleanup
  7. Report Generation


$6.5 million is the average total cost of a data breach

$217 is the average cost per lost or stolen record
— 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: United States (Ponemon Institute Research Report)

We think it is better to have an ethical hacker find the holes into your enterprise than an adversary.  Our Black Box Penetration Testing provides details on exploitable vulnerabilities in a prioritized, tangible manner.  Our report allows you to better understand what your environment looks like from an attacker perspective.  This helps you prioritize efforts to mitigate risk to reduce breach likelihood or damage.

Not only do our Black Box Penetration Testing Services show you what your attack surface looks like to an adversary attacker, but they can be used as a safe way to test your organization's Incident Response (IR) and digital forensics capabilities.  Our Penetration Testing services can be used to tune and test your security controls, such as your IDS, Firewall, Endpoint Security, Router ACLs, etc.

Our Penetration Testing services also help you meet compliance audit requirements such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and FISMA.


The Penetration Test Report includes IP addresses tested, vulnerabilities discovered, steps taken during the assessment, exploitable areas discovered, and prioritized recommendations.  For any systems we are able to exploit, an “Attack Narrative” section is used to discuss step-by-step the process we used to gain access, escalate privileges, etc.

The report sample below is used as a quick reference to focus remediation and mitigation efforts on. The findings are ranked by risk rating and include recommendations (rec), reference links for mitigation steps, and tester notes.

Penetration Test Report Top 5 Vulnerable / Exploited Systems Example

Interested in testing your systems to see how effective your security controls are against an attacker?

Contact Us or use the form below for more information about our Black Box Penetration Testing Services or to schedule a penetration test.

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Penetration Testing FAQs

What are the differences between White, Black, and Grey Box penetration tests?

White Box Penetration Test - a penetration test where the penetration tester has "administrator" or "root' level knowledge about and access to a system.  This often includes access to architecture diagrams, design documents, specifications, and source code.  A White Box Penetration Test is the most thorough and time consuming. White Box Penetration Test characteristics:

  • Full Access at Root or Administrator level
  • Documentation intensive
  • Most thorough penetration test
  • Most time-consuming penetration test
  • Typically used during system development or prior to deployment

Gray Box Penetration Test - a penetration test where the penetration tester has "user" level knowledge about and access to a system.  A Gray Box Penetration Test is typically used when you want to test an insider threat or an application that supports multiple users.  The insider threat is tested to see what damage a user (non-administrator) could do to your environment.  Application testing is used to test authenticated user access to ensure a user on an application cannot access another user's data or escalate privileges. Gray Box Penetration Test characteristics:

  • User-level Access
  • Limited documentation provided
  • Fairly thorough penetration test
  • Fairly time-consuming penetration test
  • Typically used to test systems with multiple users or emulate insider threat

Black Box Penetration Test - a penetration test where the penetration tester has little to no knowledge about and unauthenticated or limited access to a system. Black Box Penetration Test characteristics:

  • Unauthenticated Access
  • No documentation provided, other than target IP address or URL
  • Fairly thorough penetration test
  • Fairly time-consuming penetration test
  • Typically used to emulate an adversary with little knowledge about the target


A vulnerability assessment is less-intrusive than a penetration test.  With the vulnerability assessment, we identify vulnerabilities, but do not exploit them.  A penetration test goes beyond a vulnerability assessment by exploiting vulnerabilities and seeing how far into your environment an attacker can go by taking advantage of system or application vulnerabilities.

What happens if during the penetration test you discover we already have an infection?

This is quite common.  Any existing malware or breaches discovered during the penetration test will immediately result in a cessation of testing and be brought to the attention of the designated Point of Contact (POC). We can help with incident response, digital forensics, and malware analysis.

Is the penetration test performed remotely or onsite?

For an External, Black Box Penetration Test against your internet-facing systems, we perform this service remotely.  For an Internal Penetration Test, we travel to your location and perform this service onsite.  To leverage the fact that we will be traveling to your location, we offer to bundle (at a discount) other services that require us to be onsite with the Internal Penetration Test, such as our Wireless Security Assessment and Physical Security Review.