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What is White Box Penetration Testing?

White box testing cannot be considered penetration testing in itself. Auditors who perform this testing do not work from the point of view of an attacker. It is more of a thorough security analysis.

Anytime a product or application is developed and accessible over a computer network, it needs thorough testing to ensure that it is not prone to malicious hacking. White box penetration testing is crucial when it comes down to testing devices that are involved with critical infrastructure and that store, process, or transmit sensitive information.

Here is an introduction by Intellipaat to the fundamental concepts of Cybersecurity.


What is Penetration Testing?

A penetration test, also known as a pen test, is an attempt to assess the security of an IT infrastructure through simulated attacks that safely try to detect and exploit vulnerabilities in the system. The vulnerabilities may be in the operating system or services or in the form of improper configurations, application flaws, or risky end-user behavior. 

The assessments validate the efficacy of defensive measures and systems as well as the adherence of end users to security policies.

Penetration testing is usually performed manually or by using automated technologies to systematically compromise servers, web applications, network devices, endpoints, wireless networks, mobile devices, and other potential points of exposure.

Once a vulnerability is exploited on a system, testers then, sometimes, attempt to use that to launch further exploits at other internal resources. This is achieved by attempting to progressively achieve higher levels of security clearance as well as deeper access to information and electronic assets with the help of privilege escalation.


What is White Box Penetration Testing?

White box penetration testing is when the auditors know the internal composition of the software or system. Contrary to black or grey box testing, white box testing aims to uncover deep details of the system undergoing the test. Reasonably so, it is also known as a clear or transparent box testing. 

White box penetration testing grants testers access to the system in question. Through this testing method, they become aware of the application in every aspect, thus giving a clear picture of all possible entry points into the system.

The penetration tester has access to information so that they can mimic the activities of a scheming hacker, which is the actual terrifying threat to a system’s safety. The test imitates the hacker’s actions but with more access to the system’s information.

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Why White Box Penetration Testing?

We already know that white box penetration testing involves breaking into an internal system and diagnosing its weaknesses. The question, however, is why is it important? 

Cyber safety is oftentimes neglected and not taken as seriously as it should be. Organizations remain under the assumption that the existing security of their applications is sufficient as is until, of course, something goes wrong. Why wait for the damage to happen when it can be prevented in the first place? Invest in better security infrastructure and save on unnecessary expenses in the long run.

Organizations are bound to suffer service outages or data breaches one day or another if their security vulnerabilities are not addressed initially. Identifying these vulnerabilities and proactively making an effort to close these gaps is a forward-thinking strategy when it comes to running a business efficiently.

This testing is crucial for the detection of both internal and external threats in web-based applications before the commencement of production. No matter how daunting a task software security is, every business has to have a QA team whose skills lie in thorough analysis using specific techniques and technology that are exclusive to the organization.


White Box Penetration Testing Examples

The more critical a system or software one is dealing with, the more thorough the testing should be. Deploying bank apps’ security is a perfect example of a system that has to go through white box penetration testing. The primary objective of penetration testing is to test areas to find licit and illicit parts of the app that hold customer information and other storage and processing facets. 

Another example of white box penetration testing is confirming the database security of a military or rocket ship. The tester needs to test every feature and facet of the system, one code at a time. No database should have room for vulnerabilities, both externally or internally.


When is White Box Penetration Testing necessary? 

Knowing exactly when it is necessary to carry out white box penetration testing is crucial. It is typically executed in the early stages of development before the software or system is launched. Below are a few examples of when white box testing is used.

However, not every situation or network is suitable for white box testing. This is due to the nature of the test itself as it is meant to thoroughly examine every nook and cranny of the system using internal and external information.


White Box Penetration Testing Techniques

One of the main objectives of white box penetration testing is to cover the entire source code as exhaustively as possible. Code coverage is, in fact, a metric that reveals how much of the code has unit tests checking the code’s functionality. Within code coverage, one can verify the level at which an application’s logic is executed and tested by the unit test suite.

White Box Penetration Testing Techniques

There are three main techniques of white box penetration testing:

Path coverage: It focuses on the linearly independent paths through the code. Usually, a control flow diagram of the code is drawn. This methodology is aimed at all paths. It determines if every path has been crossed. Path coverage is a lot more critical than branch coverage. This technique is ideal for testing complicated builds.

Statement coverage: This technique is for checking if all executable statements in the code are tested at least once. It helps to uncover unused or missing statements and branches as well as leftover dead codes. 

Branch coverage: This method is to confirm that all branch codes are tested. It maps the code into branches of conditional logic and ensures that all branches are covered by unit tests. One should ascertain that all codes have been launched at least once.

Apart from the three above-mentioned techniques, there are a few other white box testing techniques:

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Benefits of White Box Penetration Testing

There are many benefits of this testing technique. Some of them are:

Career Transition


Drawbacks of White Box Penetration Testing

White box penetration testing comes with a few drawbacks. Let us explore the challenges that the QA team experiences when performing this type of testing.

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White Box Penetration Testing Steps

Let us now understand the step-wise process of how this testing is carried out. Below is an illustration of what is included in the testing process.

White Box Penetration Testing Steps

White Box Penetration Testing Tools

Some of the most widely used tools are:

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White box penetration testing is a great approach to strengthen software security. It can get complex depending on the application being tested. Testing a small application that performs simple operations is only a matter of a few minutes. Large applications take much longer; we are talking days, weeks, and months.

The testing should be carried out during the software development stage, after it is written, and also after each modification. Though white box testing has its limitations, there is nothing that can take away from all its benefits. However, it is worth mentioning that white box testing alone cannot plug all the loopholes in a system. White box testing is best paired with other types of tests.

For knowledge about white box pen tests, visit Intellipaat’s Cyber Security Community.

The post What is White Box Penetration Testing? appeared first on Intellipaat Blog.

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