Andrew Reeves on 22 Feb 2021

5 critical steps to network penetration testing

Somewhere between updating your Disaster Recovery plan and setting up multi-factor authentication, you probably recall that it’s time you conduct penetration testing for your network. If you have the skills and the time internally to do this, I recommend that you make sure that your pen test covers the following 5 key steps. These steps work regardless of whether you are completing a small-scale web application pen test or a full network pen test for a global organisation.

Penetration Testing your Network

penetration testing

Footprinting / Reconnaissance

Footprinting or Reconnaissance is the initial intelligence gathering performed on a target organisation. This involves identifying firewalls, routers and building a map of the network. During this step, the security tester gathers important company information. This could include org charts, company policies, physical addresses, current events and details of key personal such as email addresses, CVs and phone numbers. Once the security tester gathers this information, they can then identify key targets, potential vulnerabilities and attack vectors.


Scanning adds a lot of information to your network map. It is about uncovering more detailed host information. It might consist of Operating System information and versions, hosted applications, open ports and network ranges. This information expands your network diagram so the security tester can find vulnerabilities. They also use scanning to identify security rules and policies configured on the organisations firewalls and routers.


This is the process of actively connecting to target systems to identify extra attack vectors, application versions and system configuration information. This includes IP tables and routes, network shares, host naming schemes and poorly configured services.

Enumeration can reveal a lot about an organisation. If you configure systems poorly, this step can reveal all information stored in the organisation’s Active Directory, grant the ability to access outgoing email or even allow you full access to the organisations DNS servers.


With all the information gathered, the security tester will start attacking system vulnerabilities with the goal of gaining system access, obtaining administrator accounts and being able to take control of the entire network. Depending on the scope of the engagement, the security tester may try to compromise user accounts and gain access to sensitive organisation information.


This step finalises all the information gathered, the attacks performed, and vulnerabilities found into a report for the organisation’s Executive Team and IT staff to review. The information in the report should be used to review and remove any publicly accessible information about the organisation. The security tester can then carry out remediation activities for any system vulnerabilities.

This report contains key information about attacking the organisation, so you should store it very securely or destroy it after remediation. If an attacker gains access to a penetration testing report, it greatly increases the possibility of the organisation being compromised.

Getting Started on Penetration Testing

Satalyst provide a number of helpful services in the area of pen testing. These include:

Footprinting / Reconnaissance

  • Network mapping
  • Identifying IP ranges
  • Identifying Active Machines
  • Identifying Domains and Sub Domains
  • OS and Application fingerprinting
  • Wireless Networks

Network and System Scanning

  • Network sweeping
  • Port scanning
  • Application detection and fingerprinting

System Enumeration and Vulnerability Assessment

  • System & Application Vulnerability Scanning
  • LDAP / Active Directory account information
  • SMTP Authentication
  • DNS Zone Transfers
  • Wireless Network security

Vulnerability Exploitation

  • Application and OS Vulnerability exploitation
  • ARP Attacks
  • Session Hijacking
  • Malware and Trojan deployment

System Vulnerability and Remediation Report

  • Network Assessment
  • Network Maps
  • OS and Application Vulnerability assessments
  • Remediation Advice

If you would like some assistance with carrying out Penetration Testing for your network, please contact us on (08) 9355 2807 or email to discuss your situation.