The Computing Technology Industry Association, abbreviated as CompTIA, is a U.S.-based nonprofit association formed to provide professional certifications in the IT industry. The organization offers education, training, certifications, and market research for IT professionals and businesses that power technology and encourage the world economy. One of the many certifications they offer to cybersecurity professionals is the CompTIA PenTest+ certification.
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What Is CompTIA’s PenTest+ Certification?
CompTIA PenTest+ is a certification opportunity provided to cybersecurity professionals with intermediate-level skills. The goal is to prove their skills in pen testing and vulnerability assessments. Cybersecurity professionals with a PenTest+ Certification can perform, plan, scope, and manage penetration tests; analyze vulnerabilities; and penetrate networks.
What Is Pen Testing?
Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a simulated attack conducted to identify network security vulnerabilities and assess an organization’s effectiveness in preventing an attack. It’s necessary for organizations to run a penetration test whenever they install new software or make important changes to their IT infrastructure.
Penetration testing phases
There are several phases for penetration testing:
- Reconnaissance: Reconnaissance is a process that involves gathering information about the organization being tested, its staff and executives, devices connected to the organization’s network, etc.
- Scanning: Device scanning identifies vulnerable applications, weak passwords, and more. It also helps to recognize vulnerabilities in web servers like cross-site scripting.
- Vulnerability assessment: The reconnaissance and scanning phases help security professionals to identify vulnerabilities and assess the organization’s ability to prevent attacks.
- Gaining and maintaining access: To assess vulnerabilities, the pen testing team must infiltrate the network by exploiting security vulnerabilities. Once they gain access to the system, the pen testing team installs malware to exploit the system.
- Reporting: After completing the exploitation, the pen testing team prepares a report of all their findings, which helps the organization identify vulnerabilities and fix them.
- Covering tracks: This is the process of erasing all the signs that prove the presence of conducted pen tests.
Penetration testing methods
Penetration tests can be conducted in a variety of ways. These are some of the most common pen testing methods:
- External testing: It targets the information of an organization that is available on the internet.
- Internal testing: Internal penetration testing works to understand the malicious activities an attacker can perform after they already have access to the system or network.
- Blind testing: In blind testing, the testing team only knows the name of the organization. It enables security professionals to know how a real attack happens.
- Double-blind testing: In this test, security professionals of the organization are not aware that the attack is being simulated.
- Targeted testing: It’s a type of training exercise in which the organization and the pen testing team work together to understand specific movements and get real-time feedback.
What Areas of Pen Testing Are Covered in This Certification?
CompTIA’s PenTest+ is the most updated and comprehensive certification in penetration testing. It covers the following areas:
- Planning and scoping of a penetration testing process
- Information gathering and vulnerability scanning with appropriate tools
- Different methods of attack and exploitation
- Reporting and communications best practices when providing recommendations to a security team
- Understanding legal issues and compliance requirements
Top Careers for CompTIA PenTest+ Certification
Security professionals who pass the CompTIA PenTest+ certification can apply their new skills in a variety of cybersecurity roles. Some of the most common roles where pen testing skills are needed include the following:
The pen tester is responsible for identifying enterprise security vulnerabilities and fixing them before attackers can exploit them.
The security analyst analyzes the security measures of an organization and determines their effectiveness.
Security consultants share many of the same skills and responsibilities as security analysts. A security consultant is responsible for finding security holes in systems and networks, frequently for customers or clients.
A vulnerability analyst detects weaknesses in networks and software programs and develops mitigation strategies.
Web app penetration tester
A web app penetration tester is responsible for protecting an organization’s web and mobile applications and APIs through pen testing.
Not sure if the CompTIA PenTest+ certification is the best fit for your career goals? Explore other Top Cybersecurity Certifications here.