What Are the Top 5 Penetration Testing Techniques?


Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is crucial for assessing the security of computer systems, networks, web applications, and even cloud-based environments. It involves simulating real-world attacks by skilled professionals, known as pen-testers, who utilize various methods to exploit vulnerabilities and assess the level of risk they pose.

What should be noted is that there are multiple pen-testing techniques that can be applied according to the type of system. For instance, cloud security penetration testing focuses on evaluating the security of cloud-based systems, infrastructure, and applications. The following article will explore the five most popular pen-testing techniques (both cloud and non-cloud) commonly used in cloud security assessments.

1. Network Scanning

Network scanning is one of the essential tools when conducting Pentest as a Service. It allows you to see what systems and services are running on a network and any potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited. A few different types of scans can be performed, depending on what information you’re trying to gather. A port scan, for example, can be used to identify which ports are open on a system. This can help you determine which services are running and whether they’re vulnerable to attack.

2. Vulnerability Scanning

A vulnerability scanner is also an essential tool incorporated in PtaaS to identify security vulnerabilities in systems or networks. These scanners work by inspecting systems for known vulnerabilities and then providing information about these vulnerabilities to the user.

Vulnerability scanning is a popular penetration testing technique because it is relatively easy to use and can be performed on many systems. Additionally, the scanners can identify a wide range of vulnerabilities, including those that may be difficult to find using other methods. However, this testing is not perfect and can sometimes miss vulnerabilities. Additionally, the scanner may not identify some vulnerabilities because they are too new or have not been included in its database.

3. Password Cracking

Password cracking is one of the most popular and effective penetration testing techniques. There are many different ways to crack passwords. However, the most common method is brute-force password cracking which involves trying every possible combination of characters until the correct password is found.

Another standard method is dictionary attacks. It involves using a list of common passwords and trying them. If the password is not in the list, the attack will try using a combination of common passwords.

A third common method is rainbow table attacks which involves creating a table of pre-computed hash values for common passwords. When the password’s hash is known, the pentester can use the rainbow table to find the password.

Password cracking is an effective way to gain access to systems and data. Understanding how password cracking works to protect your systems from these attacks is essential.

4. Social Engineering

Social engineering is the process of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. It is a security exploit that takes advantage of human psychology rather than technical vulnerabilities. While technically sophisticated attacks do occur, many breaches are caused by social engineering. This is because humans are often the weakest link in the security chain. Attackers can use various techniques to exploit human vulnerabilities such as phishing, baiting, quid pro quo, tailgating, and dumpster diving.

5. Exploitation

Exploitation is another top penetration testing technique because it allows testers to access systems and data that would otherwise be inaccessible. Testers can bypass security controls and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information by exploiting vulnerabilities. The technique can also be used to launch denial-of-service attacks or to take control of systems for malicious purposes. In some cases, testers can use the tool to gain a foothold in an organization’s network for further attacks.

However, organizations should never forget to handle this tool with care. It can help organizations identify and fix critical security vulnerabilities when used correctly. In contrast, misuse of this technique can lead to severe consequences, such as data breaches and loss of control over systems.


Penetration testing is a critical process for identifying vulnerabilities in systems and networks. By using the techniques described above, pen-testers can assess the risks posed by these vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate them.