Book Image

Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux 2.0, Second Edition

Book Image

Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux 2.0, Second Edition

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (17 chapters)
Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux Second Edition
About the Author
About the Reviewers

Rules of engagement

Rules of engagement (RoE) deals with the manner in which the penetration test is to be conducted. Some of the directives that should be clearly mentioned in the rules of engagement before you kick start the penetration test are as follows:

  • Black box testing or Gray box testing

  • Client contact details

  • Client IT team notifications

  • Sensitive data handling

  • Status meeting

Black box testing or Gray box testing

There are do's and don'ts of both the ways of testing. With Black box testing, you get an exact view of an attacker as the penetration tester starts from scratch and tries to identify the network map, the types of firewalls you use, what are the internet facing website that you have, and so on. But you need to understand that at times this information might be easily obtained by the attacker. For example, to identify the firewall or the web server that you are using, a quick scan through the job postings on job portals by your company could reveal that information, so why waste your precious dollars in it? In order to get maximum value out of your penetration test, you need to choose your tests wisely.

Gray box testing is a more efficient use of your resources, where you provide the testing team sufficient information to start with so that less amount of time is spent on reconnaissance and scanning. The extent of information that you provide to the testing team depends on the aim of the test and threats vectors. You can start by providing the testing team only a URL or an IP address or a partial network diagram.


Insider attacks are more lethal than the one achieved by an external entity, so sometimes Black box testing would be a waste of money and time.

Client contact details

We all have to agree that although we take all the precautions when conducting the tests, at times it can go wrong because it involves making computers do nasty stuffs. Having the right contact information on the client-side really helps. A penetration test turning into a DoS attack is often seen and the technical team on the client side should be available 24/7 in case a computer goes down and a hard reset is needed to bring it back online.

Client IT team notifications

Penetration tests are also used as a means to check the readiness of the support staff in responding to incidents and intrusion attempts. Discuss this with the client if it is an announced or unannounced test. If it's an announced test, make sure you have the time and date informed to the client in order to avoid any real intrusion attempts to be missed by their IT security team. If it's an unannounced test, discuss with the client on what happens if the test is blocked by an automated system or network administrator. Does the test end there, or do you continue testing? It all depends on the aim of the test, whether it's been conducted to test the security of the infrastructure or to check the response of the network security and incident handling team. Even if you are conducting an unannounced test, make sure someone in the escalation matrix knows about the time and day of the test.

Sensitive data handling

Once the security of a target is breached and the penetration tester has complete access to the system, they should avoid viewing the data on the target. In a web application, if important user data is stored on a SQL database and if the server is vulnerable to a SQL injection attack, should the tester try to extract all the information using the attack? There might be sensitive client data on it. Sensitive data handling need special attention in the rules of engagement. If your client is covered under the various regulatory laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), or the European Data privacy laws, only authorized personnel should be able to view personal user data.

Status meeting

Communication is key for a successful penetration test. Regular meetings should be scheduled between the testing team and personals from the client organization. The testing team should present how far have they reached and what vulnerabilities have been found until now. The client organization can also confirm whether their automated detection systems have triggered any alerts by the penetration attempt. If a web server is being tested and a web application firewall (WAF) was deployed, it should have logged and blocked any XSS attempts. As a good practice, the testing team should also document the time when the test was conducted, which will help the security team to correlate the logs with the penetration tests.


WAFs are used for virtual patching and can act as a short term stop gap for fixing a specific vulnerability until a permanent fix is released. WAF acts as an extra layer of defense that is designed to protect specific web application vulnerabilities.