eLearnSecurity Blog

5 Steps To Becoming A Professional Pentester

With the current situation in Information Security, penetration testers have seen their professional opportunities rise up to test companies’ networks, applications, and computer systems. The claim for a secure environment could not be any more demanding. To all aspiring professional penetration testers, here are 5 steps you need to follow in order to succeed in this field.

1. Learn to Differentiate Penetration Testing from Hacking

A penetration tester needs to think like a hacker and use many of the same techniques that a hacker does. But unlike hackers, penetration tester works under strict rules of engagement – You go into specific areas only, and have limits on your actions. The purpose is to discover weaknesses, not break into the system for its own sake. You are the professional here, and definitely one of the good guys.

2. Know the Threats in the Real-World & Learn the Strategies and Solutions to Prevent Them

Companies, governments, financial institutions, hospitals, military and other businesses are using advanced technologies to store and process a great deal of confidential data on computers and mobile devices… which puts them at risk. Having the right IT infrastructure is critical to strengthening the company’s security. There are three main classifications to prevent various forms of cyber attacks: hardware solutions, software solutions, and smart-thinking solutions.

3/ Understand the Tasks and Responsibilities Expected from a Professional Penetration Tester

As a penetration tester, you will be the one who conducts the penetration test, creates one or more reports about your findings (vulnerabilities), classifies the severity of the risks (high risk, medium risk, low risk) and explains the reasons why these risks are vulnerable. You will then create an analysis report and deliver it to the company, educating executives and the IT department about what needs to be done in order to solve the researched security flaws. An important note is: You do not fix the vulnerabilities but mainly report them to your company. You do not change anything in the system, but you report the weak spots.

4/ Be Aware of the Various Employment Options 
  • IT Security service firm: You are working as a third-party contractor providing penetration testing as a service
  • In-House: You are directly hired by the company as part of the IT Security department to conduct regular penetration tests of the system
  • Free-lance: You get paid by a project by companies that you help look into their system
  • Your own start-up?

Keep in mind that cybercrime will more than triple the number of job openings over the next 5 years… If you are skilled enough, you’ll have plenty of options 😉

5/ Practice your Skills with Real-Life Scenarios

The most effective way to learn penetration testing is to learn by doing and not by reading. Look for a penetration testing course that provides hands-on training. If you are working for a company, you can ask an experienced IT Security expert to train you with practical exercises. You can also request for virtual labs to be created so you can practice your ethical hacking skills. If your IT team does not have the resources to create labs, you can search for services online that do so. One example is the HERA Virtual Lab.

Aspiring to grow as a Penetration Tester?
Download Our Free Whitepaper “How to Become a Penetration Tester”

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