Network Penetration Testing Methodology

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Every network penetration test is conducted consistently using globally accepted and industry-standard methods. At a minimum, the underlying framework is based on the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) but goes beyond the initial framework.

RedTeam Security's Penetration Testing Methodology

RedTeam Security’s network penetration testing methodology is based on the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) framework. It combines the results from industry-leading testing tools with manual testing to enumerate and validate security vulnerabilities and find attack vectors, configuration errors, and business logic flaws. While automated tools check for known vulnerabilities, they cannot assess real business risk or determine the extent of the possible exploitation. Our network security testing helps you improve your security posture by lowering the risk of unauthorized access and sensitive data breaches, improving productivity, protecting your brand from cyber attacks, and maximizing the ROI from your network devices.

While automated testing enables efficiency, it is effective in providing efficiency only during the initial phases of a penetration test. At RedTeam Security, we believe that only rigorous manual testing techniques can result in a practical and comprehensive network pen test.

RedTeam Security’s penetration testing methodology assesses the targeted Internet-facing and internal systems using a multi-layered approach: Information Gathering, Threat Modeling, Vulnerability Analysis, Exploitation, and Reporting.

Before beginning the network pen test security assessment, the pre-engagement phase begins. During the pre-engagement phase, RedTeam Security will collect the details required to execute and kick off the project. The data elements contained during this step include: testing windows, testing dates, IP addresses, and other relevant information. This phase is crucial as it establishes the general rules of engagement for the network security assessment.

Using the information gathered for the kick-off meeting, RedTeam Security confirms the necessary details to ensure the assessment is executed efficiently, effectively, and following the overall objectives.

Information Gathering

The information-gathering phase of our network pen testing methodology starts the process. Information-gathering consists of Google search engine reconnaissance, server fingerprinting, network enumeration, and more. Information gathering efforts result in a compiled list of metadata and raw output to obtain as much information about the network’s makeup as possible. Reconnaissance includes initial device footprinting, service enumeration, and operating system and application fingerprinting. This step aims to map the in-scope environment and prepare for identified vulnerabilities collectively.

During the Information Gathering phase, RedTeam Security will:

  • Use discovery tools to uncover information about the network passively
  • Perform network fingerprinting and enumeration to identify components, devices, operating systems, etc.
  • Actively scan for available services and vulnerabilities and develop a test plan for the latter phases in the security assessment

Threat Modeling

With the information collected from the previous step, security testing transitions to identifying vulnerabilities in the network. This step typically begins with automated scans but quickly morphs into manual testing techniques using more pointed and direct tools. During the threat-modeling phase, assets are identified and categorized into threat categories. These may involve sensitive information, trade secrets, financial documents, etc.

During this phase, RedTeam Security penetration testers will:

  • Use open-source, commercial, and internally developed tools to identify and confirm well-known vulnerabilities
  • Spider the in-scope network device(s) to effectively build a map of each of the operating systems, open ports and services, and areas of interest
  • Use discovered sections, features, and capabilities to establish threat categories to be used for more manual/rigorous testing (i.e., default admin credentials, session hijacking, known vulnerabilities in out-of-date components)
  • Build the network’s threat model using the information gathered in this and the previous phase to be used as a plan of attack for later stages of the assessment
  • Upload potential vulnerability information to the customer portal for those vulnerabilities that exist but will not be exploited due to time constraints or risk to devices

Vulnerability Analysis

The vulnerability analysis phase involves documenting and analyzing identified vulnerabilities discovered due to the previous network penetration testing steps. This step includes the study of various security tools and manual testing techniques. At this point, a list of attractive vulnerabilities, suspicious services, and items worth researching further has been created and weighted for further analysis. In essence, the plan of attack is developed here.


Unlike a vulnerability assessment, network penetration test takes such a test quite a bit further, specifically by exploitation. Exploitation involves carrying out the vulnerability’s exploit (i.e., buffer overflow) to determine if the exposure is genuinely exploitable.

During the Exploitation phase of a penetration test, RedTeam Security’s pen testers will attempt to gain access to the devices, networks, or applications by bypassing firewalls and other security controls and exploiting vulnerabilities to determine their actual real-world risk. Throughout this step, we perform several manual tests simulating real-world attacks that cannot be accomplished through automated means. This phase of a RedTeam Security penetration test consists of heavy manual testing tactics and is often the most time-intensive phase.

Exploitation may include but is not limited to credential harvesting/guessing, network sniffing, and leveraging known vulnerabilities in outdated software.

As part of the Exploitation phase, RedTeam Security will:

  • Attempt to manually exploit the security weaknesses identified in the previous step to determine the level of risk and level of exploitation possible
  • Capture and log evidence to provide proof of exploitation (images, screenshots, configs, etc.)
  • Notify the client of any Critical findings upon discovery by telephone and email
  • Upload validated exploits and their corresponding evidence/information to the project portal for client review


The reporting step intends to compile, document, and risk rate findings and generate a clear and actionable report, complete with evidence, for the project stakeholders. Along with detailed descriptions and screenshots of vulnerabilities and how RedTeam Security’s pen testers found them, we provide recommendations based on best practices to remediate those vulnerabilities. Reports are delivered via the RedTeam Security client portal, and clients are always given the option to have a report meeting to review findings in more detail with our team. At RedTeam Security, we consider this phase the most important and take great care to ensure we’ve communicated the value of our service and findings thoroughly.

The report deliverable will include the following high-level sections in a format suitable for management:

  • Purpose of the engagement including project’s scope and approach
  • Positive security controls that were identified
  • Tactical resolutions to immediately reduce your network security risk
  • Strategic recommendations for mitigating and preventing similar issues from recurring that could ultimately lead to a serious data breach


To perform a comprehensive real-world assessment, RedTeam Security utilizes commercial tools, internally developed tools, and some of the same tools that ethical hackers use in every evaluation. Once again, we intend to assess systems by simulating a real-world cybersecurity attack, leveraging the many tools at our disposal to carry out that task effectively.

We make use of tools from the following categories (not a complete list):

  • Commercial tools (i.e., Nessus, AppScan, Nexpose)
  • Ethical hacker tools (i.e., Kali Linux, Nmap, Metasploit)
  • RedTeam Security’s developed tools

Free Retesting of Remediated Findings

Our objective is to help empower our clients to remediate vulnerabilities, not just find them. As a result, remediation re-testing is provided at no additional cost for up to six findings, within six months of project completion. In the event a significant number of findings are required to be re-examined, or if additional remediation retests would be required please contact your representative who can assist you in determining a solution to fit your particular need. Let us know once you have a chance to remediate exploitable vulnerabilities you feel would best improve your security posture. We will schedule a re-test of those findings and provide you with an updated report.

RedTeam Security - Here When You Need Us

We consider the reporting phase to mark the beginning of our relationship. RedTeam Security strives to provide the best possible customer experience and service. As a result, our report makes up only a small part of our deliverables. We provide clients with an online remediation knowledge base, dedicated remediation staff, and a ticketing system to close the ever-important gap in the remediation process following the reporting phase. Again, the underlying framework is based on the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES), but RedTeam Security exceeds those standards.

At RedTeam Security, we understand your network’s security is essential to maintaining your organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy. Network penetration is a detailed method of identifying any potential vulnerabilities. Regarding your network, we will rigorously test all known exploits and look beyond to identify potential other vulnerabilities. From intelligence gathering to identifying potential exposures to offering solutions, RedTeam Security is committed to ensuring your network’s security is the strongest. To learn more, contact RedTeam Security today at (952) 836-2770.

Penetration Testing Methodology FAQs

While each engagement is unique, our team follows these high-level steps; Information Gathering, Threat Modeling, Vulnerability Analysis, Exploitation, and Reporting. Reconnaissance (information gathering) in penetration testing is a critical step where testers examine an organization’s business, employees, and environment from the lens of a cybercriminal.

The scope of a penetration test defines the project’s boundaries, identifying assets and particular services or high-value targets that an organization would like to examine. When penetration testers do not have detailed information about client devices and the range of devices being tested for cybersecurity, they spend a lot of time identifying real exploitable vulnerabilities from fake ones. This excess effort adds to overhead, ultimately increasing the project’s cost.

Proper threat modeling requires the correct analysis of potential vulnerabilities. Poor or improper project scoping causes uncertainty for ethical hackers and the client. When a web or mobile application is improperly scoped against security weaknesses, pen testers may spend time and resources creating threat models that do not apply to or provide the best value for the client.

The first step to an information security program is to list your digital assets. After that, speak with a penetration testing organization about your security posture and resilience against attacks. Preparation against unauthorized access is essential. It ultimately provides excellent value to the client when they have taken the time to enumerate their sensitive information, including contracts with vendors and agreements with third parties.

As penetration testers, we use open-source commercial tools, ethical hacking tools, and in-house built tools to launch simulated attacks to give our clients a proper understanding of how their defenses would hold up against a real-life cyber attack. The only difference between testers and hackers is time spent seeking exploitable vulnerabilities. Our role is to find as many vulnerabilities as possible when allotted for the engagement. In contrast, a cybercriminal can spend unlimited time examining a particular identified vulnerability, target, or potential exploit.

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