Network Penetration Testing Interview: 5 Questions and Answers
Network penetration testing is a complicated step that requires a lot of research and preparation going into it. Once you’ve decided on conducting the procedure, it’s equally important to select a third-party service provider that upholds quality and possesses adequate experience. For this, there are a series of network penetration testing interview questions – and desired answers – you can keep in mind when screening potential service providers.
The right network penetration testing and security process should give you actionable insights about the network and the system for the right kind of protection. That means, the right VAPT service provider will be conducted by the right kind of professionals with the required accreditations and the ability to think on their feet for impersonating hackers.
5 Best Network Penetration Testing Interview Questions to Ask
Network penetration testing is usually conducted by third-party services to obtain a third-person perspective from someone not involved in the development process. However, in order to ensure that the service provider understands the task, vulnerabilities, and goals of testing, it’s important to ask certain questions to test their knowledge and approach.
What are the two commonly used levels of network penetration testing?
These are internal and external penetration testing. Internal network penetration testing involves ethical hackers stepping within the network to try and access internal assets and understand the threats of malicious users. For this, the OWASP Penetration testing team will need to go beyond the NAC and evaluate the network’s security response when connecting to the intranet. On the other hand, external network penetration testing attempts to exploit the external vulnerabilities and public-facing assets for security loopholes and backdoors.
What do the terms NAC and NIS mean?
NAC, or Network Access Control, acts as security and verifies devices attempting to enter a network, allowing only those devices adhering to the organization’s security policy to enter. It also conducts user authentication procedures and ensures endpoint security on the network devices, barring access to external devices that try to enter a network by connecting to an open LAN port of the network.
NIS stands for Network Information Service and usually manages a large set of user credentials across the group of network machines. It stores user and hostnames, passwords, secret authentication hashes, etc within the network through a client-service directory service protocol.
What are the ideal steps and tools for identifying network vulnerabilities?
While some steps can be added and/or subtracted depending on the context of testing and business logic, here are a few that will definitely turn up results:
- Manual penetration testing – This can be done using tools like WireShark for packet analysis, for potential phishing and spam attacks, testing known and published vulnerabilities according to the OS and software, and looking for cryptographic issues
- Scanning for vulnerabilities – Usually done with tools such as Nessus
- Fingerprinting – This tactic is used to gather information about the network such as the number of ports, services, devices, etc.
- Brute force attacks – Should be done on default accounts using password cracking tools to understand the strength of user and admin credentials
Some of the commonly used tools for network penetration testing are:
- Nmap is a popular and open-source port scanner,
- Nessus and Nexpose are network vulnerability scanners,
- Burp Suite Professional and WebInspect are used as web scanners, and
- OWASP ZAP functions as a web proxy testing tool.
What are some commonly discovered security vulnerabilities in a network?
There are certain categories under which some vulnerabilities are frequently discovered.
- Authentication and authorization – Enabling of default accounts, weak user credentials, authentication bypass loopholes, privilege escalation, and easy access to important assets
- System configuration issues – lack of proper access levels and unpatched software
- Denial of service (DoS) – SYN, UDP, and ICMP floods, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), and ‘ping to death’ approach
- Cryptography vulnerabilities – weak encryption and access keys
- Inadequate input validation, data leaks, insecure open ports and servers
- ARP spoofing
- Vulnerabilities according to the operating system, software, or specific network devices used
What general measures would you suggest to strengthen network security?
- Ensure proper security for file transfers and do not use anonymous FTP accounts
- Encrypt all user credentials. Users shouldn’t be allowed to store their credentials on their machine
- Network Access Control (NAC) should be set up and used properly
- There should be a strict password policy, intrusion detection and prevention systems (ID/PS), and proper network segmentation
- No network ports should be unattended and ensure that no unknown WiFis are present on your network
- Appropriate firewalls should be in place for the network, host, and website
- Implement regular network vulnerability detection procedures using automated tools such as Nessus and Qualys
- Proper authentication and authorization procedures must be implemented for Domain Controllers
This list only covers the general topics of awareness and must be included under the network penetration testing interview questions list. It’s recommended that specific questions related to your business logic and purposes be included as well to provide the pentester with an idea of the specifications and ensure a smooth testing procedure.
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