Illustration representing penetration testing tips

Penetration Testing: Courses to Train Your Team

Penetration testing is a businesses’ best defense against modern cybercrime. Follow these steps to teach your team how to do it.

Cyberattacks by hackers continue to grow more frequent, sophisticated, and damaging. Attack methodologies evolve so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to keep any single software or security measure impenetrable for long.

Luckily, the “black hat” hackers intent on breaking into systems to steal data aren’t the only experts who have access to these evolving techniques. 

As cybercrime has grown more advanced, the movement and profession of “ethical hacking” developed as a countermeasure. Ethical hackers help protect businesses from cyberattacks by conducting penetration tests. 

This is everything you need to know about penetration testing, including how you can train your team to test effectively.

Martin then expands on that definition, elaborating that “pen testing is a kind of ethical hacking test methodology where assessors, typically working under specific constraints, attempt to circumvent or defeat the security features of a system.”

Illustration representing importance of penetration testing


  • Set the scope: Define the scope of the penetration, including what systems the team will target and the specific goals of the penetration test.

  • Define rules of engagement: Set rules of engagement with the system owner, including the level of access the team will have and any testing constraints necessary.

  • Gather information: Perform initial information gathering on the target environment.

  • Obtain signed permission to conduct the test: Obtain written permission from the client to perform the penetration test.

Illustration representing planning


  • Conduct initial recon: Collect information about the target organization and system.

  • Perform a network scan: Scan the target network to identify live systems, open ports, and actively running services.


  • Review scan: Gather more detailed information on the services and applications discovered during scanning.

  • Review organizational information: Enumerate users, shares, and other resources connected to the network.

Vulnerability analysis

  • Access vulnerability: Identify and assess vulnerabilities identified during the scanning and enumeration processes.

  • Create a plan of attack: Assemble a list of potential vulnerabilities to attack.

  • Prioritize highest-level threats: Prioritize your list of vulnerabilities based on the viability and impact of their exploitability.

Illustration representing discovery


  • Exploit vulnerabilities: Attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities identified during the discovery stage to gain unauthorized access to the target system.

  • Test the effect of successful exploits: Test any exploits successfully uncovered to ensure they compromise the target system. Compromises could allow you to raise your level of system access, build back doors into the data for future use, or even give you access to sensitive data.

  • Document findings: Take very detailed notes of every step you take during the pen test, including what vulnerabilities you uncover and exploit, how you found them, and the effect these exploits could have.

Illustration representing attacking


  • Compile your findings: Summarize your findings into a client-facing report that shares the information you uncovered and how you found it on terms the client can understand.

  • Make remediation recommendations: Schedule a separate meeting with the client’s IT team to make comprehensive recommendations for correcting the exploits you uncovered during the pen test, to ensure they can’t be used again.
Illustration representing reporting
Illustration representing learning penetration testing skills