External Perimeter Penetration Testing | Unleashing OSINT to Discover Hidden Entry Points 

Traditional penetration testing often relies on client-provided information, creating a limited scope that mimics a guided attack. But real-world attackers rarely have such roadmaps. They operate with limited initial knowledge, starting with the name of a target organisation and leveraging the power of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) to piece together information and unearth hidden entry points. This is where External Perimeter Penetration Testing (EPPT) steps in, leveraging the power of OSINT to deliver a more realistic and comprehensive assessment.

The Role of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT): Unveiling the Unseen

Attackers operate in a realm of unknowns, piecing together fragments of information gathered from various sources. This is where OSINT becomes a vital weapon in the penetration tester’s arsenal, empowering them to see what’s unseen. 

Traditional testing protocols that rely on a predefined list might easily overlook crucial assets. However, through meticulous OSINT investigations, a tester could discover its existence. For example, sensitive information pertaining to a particular organisational process might be exposed in an employee’s LinkedIn or social post. This proactive discovery reveals an unexpected attack vector, providing invaluable insights into the organisation’s real-world security posture. 

Here's how OSINT empowers penetration testers:

Exposes potential attack vectors missed by client-provided lists when conducting a traditional penetration test.

Creates a comprehensive picture of the organisation's external infrastructure from an attacker’s perspective.

Uncover information about internal processes and security practices that require improvement, such as leaked credentials and risky information sharing practices.

This deeper understanding allows testers to leave no stone unturned, exploring multiple attack paths leading to the compromise of the external perimeter. The result is a more thorough security assessment, uncovering vulnerabilities that could otherwise remain hidden. 

The Practical Value of EPPT: Bridging the Gap to Red Teaming

Evolution of Network/Infrastructure Testing

Imagine you’ve conducted a traditional External Network Penetration Test to strengthen your internal patch management processes. You seek to further refine your security posture, but Red Teaming, with its complexity, seems out of reach at present. 

Here’s where External Perimeter Penetration Testing (EEPT) comes through. It’s open-scoped nature serves as a stepping stone for Red Teaming, bridging the gap between traditional assessments and full-blown simulated attacks. 

While there is a visible trend of Red Teaming exercises shifting to an Assumed Breach approach, not all threats originate from insiders. External Perimeter Penetration Testing serves a critical role in clearing the low-hanging fruit on your external perimeter, before eventually transitioning into a Red Teaming’s assumed breach scenario. 

To be continued

This blog post is just the beginning. Stay tuned for further insights into External Perimeter Penetration Testing, specific OSINT techniques and their application in Penetration Testing!

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