Gray Box Penetration Testing Services

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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 Gray Box Penetration Test, we have "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 test 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. 

A Gray Box Penetration Test is commonly used in the following two scenarios:

  • Insider Threat
  • Application Testing

Insider threat statistics.  Source: http://www.clearswift.com/sites/default/files/images/blog/enemy-within.pdf

For the Insider Threat scenario, we are often provided user-level access to an Enterprise Windows Domain.  We use this authenticated, user-level access to validate and test user rights, permissions, and access.  A user should only be provided what is required for them to perform their job.  Many organizations do not fully understand or have documented all the access a "user" may have.  For example, we have found organizations where a normal user-level account could access the network shares of everyone in the company, including the CEO.  This was due to improper permissions on network shares.  This is not an uncommon scenario.  

For the Application Testing scenario, we typically test an application, such as a web application or custom-built application as an authenticated user.  We log on to the application as that user and then perform testing to see if we can perform any of the following:

  • Horizontal Privilege Escalation - where an authenticated user can access another user's data.  An example of horizontal privilege escalation is a bank application, where an authenticated user's account number shows up in a URL.  If I can change the account number in the URL to another account number and access another user's banking information, I've just performed a horizontal privilege escalation.

Example of Horizontal Privilege Escalation with an online bank.

  • Vertical Privilege Escalation - where an authenticated user can escalate privileges to an administrator-level account.  An example of this is a web application that has a value representing the username in a hidden field that is returned after successful authentication.  What would happen if we changed the value from 'username' to 'root' or 'administrator' and passed this back to the web application server?

Methodology

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

BENEFITS / RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

$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 or insider.  Our 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 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.

Deliverable

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 system, application, or enterprise to see how effective your security controls are against an attacker (insider or authenticated user)?

Contact Us or use the form below for more information about our Gray 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 GrAy 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

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT AND PENETRATION TEST?

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.

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