The integrity of internal systems connected with the wider Internet is crucial to the operations of many organizations, from financial institutions to health care companies to government agencies. Organizations often employ cybersecurity experts to help protect their vital systems from malicious attacks. One of the basic tasks that must be accomplished to secure a system is to find where vulnerabilities exist. The penetration tester uses a wide variety of tools (some of which may be self-constructed) to probe the organization's network, attempting to find any areas which are vulnerable to attack and identifying methods by which attackers could exploit security flaws. Penetration testers also seek out and ameliorate passive threats to network integrity, such as poor password policies and user security practices.
The penetration tester frequently works as a part of an information technology (IT) or cybersecurity team. When conducting security tests, it is important for the penetration tester to take careful notes and be able to relay relevant information to other members of the team. The penetration tester should have a thorough understanding of complex security measures, as well as of the software and tools necessary to perform the job.
A bachelor's degree in information technology or a cybersecurity-related field is commonly required by employers; experience may sometimes be substituted for education. Relevant certifications may be preferred.
Penetration Tester Tasks
- Conduct IT/Cyber Security assessments / penetration tests (hands-on work), as an individual, self-managed tester, or in small project teams.
- Work with customers to determine their need for security assessments, present and explain the employed methodology, and support them with feedback and verification during mitigation.
- Document findings for management and technical staff and recommend mitigating actions.
- Follow industry best practice methodologies for penetration testing, and be able to use tools for a basis level assessment.
- Search for security vulnerabilities in web applications, fat/thin client applications, and standard applications, and assess the secure configuration of operating systems and network devices.