• Requirement

    Conduct penetration testing [Assignment: organization-defined frequency], leveraging automated scanning tools and ad hoc tests using subject matter experts.

  • Discussion

    Penetration testing is a specialized type of assessment conducted on systems or individual system components to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by adversaries. Penetration testing goes beyond automated vulnerability scanning. It is conducted by penetration testing agents and teams with particular skills and experience that include technical expertise in network, operating system, and application-level security. Penetration testing can be used to validate vulnerabilities or determine a system’s penetration resistance to adversaries within specified constraints. Such constraints include time, resources, and skills. Organizations may also supplement penetration testing with red team exercises. Red teams attempt to duplicate the actions of adversaries in carrying out attacks against organizations and provide an in-depth analysis of security-related weaknesses or deficiencies. Organizations can use the results of vulnerability analyses to support penetration testing activities. Penetration testing can be conducted internally or externally on the hardware, software, or firmware components of a system and can exercise both physical and technical controls. A standard method for penetration testing includes pretest analysis based on full knowledge of the system, pretest identification of potential vulnerabilities based on the pretest analysis, and testing designed to determine the exploitability of vulnerabilities. All parties agree to the specified rules of engagement before the commencement of penetration testing. Organizations correlate the rules of engagement for penetration tests and red teaming exercises (if used) with the tools, techniques, and procedures that they anticipate adversaries may employ. The penetration testing or red team exercises may be organization-based or external to the organization. In either case, it is important that the team possesses the necessary skills and resources to do the job and is objective in its assessment. [SP 800-53A] provides guidance on conducting security assessments.

More Info

  • Family

    Security Assessment
  • Protection Strategy

    • Penetration-Resistant Architecture
    • Damage-Limiting Operations

NIST 800-172A Assessment Guidance

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