A network pen test is a method of testing the security of a computer network. The aim of this type of hacking is to find flaws in an organization’s system and repair them before they are used by malevolent actors. Network pen-testers typically work for third-party businesses, but some organizations have their own internal pentester teams that handle these duties. In this article, we will discuss what network pen-testing is, how it works, and the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.

Methodologies Of Network Pentesting

Network pen-testers use a variety of methodologies as they test for vulnerabilities. These include:

  • Passive scanning/sniffing – The tester is not sending any packets but observing and recording what the network sends to him/her  The benefits of passive scans is that they do not alter or interfere with traffic, and can be used for reconnaissance. The drawbacks are that they can only detect open ports and services, and cannot determine whether a system is vulnerable or not.
  • Active scanning – The tester sends packets to the target network and observes the response. Active scans are more invasive than passive scans, but they allow testers to determine the operating system and version of a networked device. The benefits of active scans are that they can detect vulnerabilities, but the drawbacks include increased security alerts on systems and triggering intrusion detection software.
  • Fingerprinting – This method is similar to passive scanning in that it observes what devices send without sending any packets back  Fingerprinting is used to identify devices on a network, and can be helpful in determining the extent of an attack. The benefits are that it is non-invasive and stealthy. The drawbacks include the possibility that some systems may not respond or give false information.
  • Exploitation – This is the process of taking advantage of vulnerabilities in a system to gain access  In network pentesting, this is typically used when vulnerabilities have been identified in the fingerprinting process. Exploitation can be difficult and may require multiple steps or strategies. The benefits of exploitation are that it provides complete control over target devices, but the drawbacks include leaving an audit trail which could lead back to the tester.
  • Patching – This is the process of applying software updates to eliminate known vulnerabilities  The benefit of patching is that it can prevent attackers from gaining access, but the drawback includes not being able to test for unknown vulnerabilities.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Network Pentesting

Network pen-testing offers organizations a number of benefits, including:

  • The ability to find and fix vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them. This could prevent an organization from experiencing financial losses or even losing data. The drawbacks include potential damage caused by false positives (incorrect identification as vulnerable), the possibility that systems may be more vulnerable after being patched, and the time required to test systems.
  • The ability for testers to bypass security controls with their exploits in order to determine how they work. This can help organizations protect themselves from future attacks by improving their own anti-intrusion software. The drawback is that this could cause damage if exploited systems are not patched.
  • The ability to test our own security controls and procedures in order to improve them, which can result in improved cybersecurity and better protection for an organization’s data and hardware resources. The drawback is that this could be time-consuming depending on the size of the organization being tested.

Network pen-testing has a number of drawbacks, including:

  • The potential for causing damage to systems by exploiting vulnerabilities. This could impact an organization’s ability to operate or cause data loss or financial losses. The benefit is that this can also be used as evidence in the event that legal action results from the discovery of a vulnerability.
  • The need for considerable time and resources depending on the size of an organization that is being tested, as well as the extent to which software penetration testing will be carried out (e.g., penetration testing vs security assessment). The benefit is that it may reduce costs in terms of labor hours spent on regaining control of systems or testing for vulnerabilities.
  • The possibility that false positives will be generated by security alerts and intrusion detection software as a result of active scanning. The benefit is that this may lead to patches being applied more quickly, but can also produce backlogs in patching if too many false alarms are received.

Cost of Network Pentesting

The cost of network pentesting varies depending on the type of assessment. For example, penetration testing is typically more expensive than security auditing because it requires active scanning that may produce false positives (leading to wasted time and resources).

The pentesting cost in various companies can range from $5000-$15,000 depending on the size and complexity of the network being tested. It may cost $2000 for a small business with up to 500 users and 50 devices.


Network Pentesting can provide a variety of advantages to businesses, including the opportunity to discover and fix security flaws before they are exploited by attackers. However, it also has drawbacks, including the potential for causing damage to systems and the need for considerable time and resources. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of network pentesting before deciding if it is right for an organization.


Author Bio: Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing “engineering in marketing” to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.

You can contact him on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ankit-pahuja/
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