A penetration test—typically referred to as pen test or "ethical hacking"—evaluates IT infrastructure security by safely identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities found in appliances, operating systems, services and applications, in an effort to identify vulnerabilities that a potential attacker could exploit.Penetration tests can be performed manually or can be automated with software applications. Both processes involve gathering information about the target before the test, identifying possible entry points, attempting to break in -- either virtually or for real -- and reporting back the findings.
The main objective of penetration testing is to identify security weaknesses, though can also be used to test an organization's security policy, its employees' security awareness, its adherence to compliance requirements, and the organization's ability to identify and respond to security incidents.
Note: Best practice would be to use a different provider each time a test is run for maximum effectiveness.
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