Penetration testing can be described as a legal and authorized try to find and successfully exploit operating systems for the goal of making those systems more secure. The method includes probing for vulnerabilities as well as giving proof of concept attacks to demonstrate the vulnerabilities are real.
Proper penetration testing regularly ends with specific suggestions for addressing and fixing the security issues that were found during the test. On the whole, this method is used to help secure computers and networks against future attacks. The general idea is to discover security issues by using the same tools and techniques as an attacker. These findings can then be mitigated before a real hacker exploits them.
Penetration testing is also known as Pen testing, PT, Hacking, Ethical hacking, White hat hacking, Offensive security and Red teaming.
It is necessary to spend a few minutes discussing the difference between penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. Many people and vendors in the security community incorrectly use these terms mutually.
A vulnerability assessment is a process of evaluating services and systems for possible security issues, whereas a penetration test actually performs exploitation and Proof of Concept (PoC) attacks to verify that a security issue exists. Penetration tests go a step beyond vulnerability assessments by simulating hacker activity and delivering live payloads.