Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide
eBook - ePub

Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide

Rafay Baloch

Share book
  1. 531 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide

Rafay Baloch

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Requiring no prior hacking experience, Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide supplies a complete introduction to the steps required to complete a penetration test, or ethical hack, from beginning to end. You will learn how to properly utilize and interpret the results of modern-day hacking tools, which are required to complete a penetration test. The book covers a wide range of tools, including Backtrack Linux, Google reconnaissance, MetaGooFil, dig, Nmap, Nessus, Metasploit, Fast Track Autopwn, Netcat, and Hacker Defender rootkit. Supplying a simple and clean explanation of how to effectively utilize these tools, it details a four-step methodology for conducting an effective penetration test or hack.Providing an accessible introduction to penetration testing and hacking, the book supplies you with a fundamental understanding of offensive security. After completing the book you will be prepared to take on in-depth and advanced topics in hacking and penetration testing. The book walks you through each of the steps and tools in a structured, orderly manner allowing you to understand how the output from each tool can be fully utilized in the subsequent phases of the penetration test. This process will allow you to clearly see how the various tools and phases relate to each other. An ideal resource for those who want to learn about ethical hacking but don't know where to start, this book will help take your hacking skills to the next level. The topics described in this book comply with international standards and with what is being taught in international certifications.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Guide by Rafay Baloch in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Computer Science & Computer Networking. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.



Chapter 1
Introduction to Hacking

There are many definitions for “hacker.” Ask this question from a phalanx and you’ll get a new answer every time because “more mouths will have more talks” and this is the reason behind the different definitions of hackers which in my opinion is quite justified for everyone has a right to think differently.
In the early 1990s, the word “hacker” was used to describe a great programmer, someone who was able to build complex logics. Unfortunately, over time the word gained negative hype, and the media started referring to a hacker as someone who discovers new ways of hacking into a system, be it a computer system or a programmable logic controller, someone who is capable of hacking into banks, stealing credit card information, etc. This is the picture that is created by the media and this is untrue because everything has a positive and a negative aspect to it. What the media has been highlighting is only the negative aspect; the people that have been protecting organizations by responsibly disclosing vulnerabilities are not highlighted.
However, if you look at the media’s definition of a hacker in the 1990s, you would find a few common characteristics, such as creativity, the ability to solve complex problems, and new ways of compromising targets. Therefore, the term has been broken down into three types:
  1. White hat hacker—This kind of hacker is often referred to as a security professional or security researcher. Such hackers are employed by an organization and are permitted to attack an organization to find vulnerabilities that an attacker might be able to exploit.
  2. Black hat hacker—Also known as a cracker, this kind of hacker is referred to as a bad guy, who uses his or her knowledge for negative purposes. They are often referred to by the media as hackers.
  3. Gray hat hacker—This kind of hacker is an intermediate between a white hat and a black hat hacker. For instance, a gray hat hacker would work as a security professional for an organization and responsibly disclose everything to them; however, he or she might leave a backdoor to access it later and might also sell the confidential information, obtained after the compromise of a company’s target server, to competitors.
Similarly, we have categories of hackers about whom you might hear oftentimes. Some of them are as follows:
  • Script kiddie—Also known as skid, this kind of hacker is someone who lacks knowledge on how an exploit works and relies upon using exploits that someone else created. A script kiddie may be able to compromise a target but certainly cannot debug or modify an exploit in case it does not work.
    (From and
  • Elite hacker—An elite hacker, also referred to as l33t or 1337, is someone who has deep knowledge on how an exploit works; he or she is able to create exploits, but also modify codes that someone else wrote. He or she is someone with elite skills of hacking.
  • Hacktivist—Hacktivists are defined as group of hackers that hack into computer systems for a cause or purpose. The purpose may be political gain, freedom of speech, human rights, and so on.
  • Ethical hacker—An ethical hacker is as a person who is hired and permitted by an organization to attack its systems for the purpose of identifying vulnerabilities, which an attacker might take advantage of. The sole difference between the terms “hacking” and “ethical hacking” is the permission.

Important Terminologies

Let’s now briefly discuss some of the important terminologies that I will be using throughout this book.


An asset is any data, device, or other component of the environment that supports information-related activities that should be protected from anyone besides the people that are allowed to view or manipulate the data/information.


Vulnerability is defined as a flaw or a weakness inside the asset that could be used to gain unauthorized access to it. The successful compromise of a vulnerability may result in data manipulation, privilege elevation, etc.


A threat represents a possible danger to the computer system. It represents something that an organization doesn’t want to happen. A successful exploitation of vulnerability is a threat. A threat may be a malicious hacker who is trying to gain unauthorized access to an asset.


An exploit is something that takes advantage of vulnerability in an asset to cause unintended or unanticipated behavior in a target system, which would allow an attacker to gain access to data or information.


A risk is defined as the impact (damage) resulting from the successful compromise of an asset. For example, an organization running a vulnerable apache tomcat server poses a threat to an organization and the damage/loss that is caused to the asset is defined as a risk.
Normally, a risk can be calculated by using the following equation:
Risk = Threat * vulnerabilities * impact

What Is a Penetration Test?

A penetration test is a subclass of ethical hacking; it comprises a set of methods and procedures that aim at testing/protecting an organization’s security. The penetration tests prove helpful in finding vulnerabilities in an organization and check whether an attacker will be able to exploit them to gain unauthorized access to an asset.

Vulnerability Assessments versus Penetration Test

Oftentimes, a vulnerability assessment is confused with a penetration test; however, these terms have completely different meanings. In a vulnerability assessment, our goal is to figure out all the vulnerabilities in an asset and document them accordingly.
In a penetration test, however, we need to simulate as an attacker to see if we are actually able to exploit a vulnerability and document the vulnerabilities that were exploited and the ones that turned out to be false-positive.


Before you start doing a penetration test, there is whole lot of things you need to discuss with clients. This is the phase where both the customer and a representative from your company would sit down and discuss about the legal requirements and the “rules of engagement.”

Rules of Engagement

Every penetration test you do would comprise of a rules of engagement, which basically defines how a penetration test would be laid out, what methodology would be used, the start and end dates, the milestones, the goals of the penetration test, the liabilities and responsibilities, etc. All of them have to be mutually agreed upon by both the customer and the representative before the penetration test is started. Following are important requirements that are present in almost every ROE:
  • A proper “permission to hack” and a “nondisclosure” agreement should be signed by both the parties.
  • The scope of the engagement and what part of the organization must be tested.
  • The project duration including both the start and the end date.
  • The methodology to be used for conducting a penetration test.
  • The goals of a penetration test.
  • The allowed and disallowed techniques, whether denial-of-service testing should be performed or not.
  • The liabilities and responsibilities, which are decided ahead of time. As a penetration tester you might break into something that should not be accessible, causing a denial of service; also, you might access sensitive information such as credit cards. Therefore, the liabilities should be defined prior to the engagement.
If you need a more thorough documentation, refer to the “PTES Pre-engagement” document (


Before starting a penetration test, it’s good practice to set up milestones so that your project is delivered as per the dates given in the rules of engagement.
You can use either a GANTT chart or a website like Basecamp that helps you set up milestones to keep track of your progress. The following is a chart that defines the milestones followed by the date they should be accomplished.

Penetration Testing Methodologies

In every penetration test, methodology and the reporting are the most important steps. Let’s first talk about the methodology. There are several different types of pene...

Table of contents