How Many Types of Penetration Testing Are There?

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September 26, 2021

A penetration test is a deliberate attack on a software or hardware system to expose security flaws that could lead to a costly cyber breach. The extent of the operation entirely determines the scope of any penetration test. For instance, consider the level of intrusion. In certain circumstances, simply identifying the flaw is sufficient.

As a result, it is critical for CREST security specialists to select the most appropriate sort of penetration test for their customers (based on an agreed scope). Penetration tests are an excellent technique for businesses to uncover exploitable holes in their network that could give cyber criminals access to sensitive information.

Penetration tests come in various shapes and sizes, and not all are created equal. Depending on how much information the CREST penetration tester is provided before the assessment, the outcomes of different penetration tests can vary dramatically.

Types of Penetration Testing

How Many Types of Penetration Testing are There

There are two types of penetration testing, Internal and External.

  • An internal pen test is performed within an organization’s network, looking for vulnerabilities from the inside.
  • An external pen test is conducted remotely, with an ethical hacker searching for security vulnerabilities in internet-facing assets such as web, mail, and FTP servers.

There are various examples of penetration testing, or alternatively, one could say there are multiple levels of penetration testing, which include:

  • Web application penetration tests
  • Cloud penetration testing
  • Physical penetration testing
  • External network penetration testing
  • Online website penetration testing
  • Network security penetration testing
  • Internal network penetration testing

One of the benefits of performing a range of penetration tests is that you can better understand your security posture.

It enables you to carefully examine the security of each of your network’s gateways. Additionally, this examination determines the ease with which a hacker could potentially access your systems and sensitive data.

White box penetration testing:

A white box penetration test, in contrast to other methods, is a specific type of penetration testing wherein the testers are, importantly, familiar with the internal workings of the software or system they are examining.

Unlike the black or grey box, the test tries to show or expose the system’s features under test. It’s also known as clear box or transparent box testing for similar reasons.

Penetration testers use white box testing to break into an internal system and verify its flaws. Security assessments such as white box penetration testing are crucial for discovering internal and external threats before web-based systems are pushed to production.

Types of penetration testing white box:

To conduct a white box test, you’ll require a specific set of tools or resources.

  • Metasploit
  • EclEmma
  • John the Ripper
  • Efix
  • NUnit
  • Junit

Black box penetration testing:-

In a black box penetration test, the tester is deliberately given no information, thus simulating an authentic attack scenario where the attacker has no prior knowledge of the system’s internal workings.

In this case, the pen tester mimics the actions of an unprivileged attacker, from initial access to execution to exploitation. This scenario is the most realistic, showing how an attacker with no inside information would target and compromise a company. However, because of this, it is also the most expensive alternative.

Types of penetration testing black box:

You’ll need these tools or resources to do a black box test.

  • Selenium
  • Appium
  • Applitools
  • HP QTP
  • Microsoft Coded UI


Penetration testing, a critical practice in cybersecurity, comes in various types to safeguard an organization’s IT infrastructure. It uncovers vulnerabilities in your cyber defenses, simulating attacks to test network, application, and physical security. Elevate your company’s cybersecurity with Nextdoorsec’s expert penetration testing services.


1. What are the three types of penetration testing in cybersecurity?

  1. Black Box Testing: The tester has no prior knowledge of the network or system.
  2. White Box Testing: The tester has complete knowledge of the system or network being tested, including access to network diagrams, source code, and credentials.
  3. Gray Box Testing: The tester has partial knowledge or limited access to information about the target system.

2. What are the main types of pentesting methods?

  • Network Services Testing: Evaluates the network infrastructure.
  • Web Application Testing: Focuses on website security.
  • Wireless Network Testing: Assesses the security of Wi-Fi networks.
  • Social Engineering Testing: Tests the human element of security.
  • Physical Security Testing: Examines physical access to secure areas.

3. What are penetration testing techniques?

  • Scanning and Reconnaissance: Gathering information on the target system.
  • Vulnerability Analysis: Identifying potential points of exploit.
  • Exploitation: Attempting to breach security controls.
  • Post-Exploitation: Determining the value of the compromised system and maintaining access for further analysis.
  • Reporting: Documenting the findings and providing recommendations for security improvements.

4. What is internal and external penetration testing?

  • Internal Penetration Testing: Simulates an attack by a malicious insider or someone with access to an organization’s internal network.
  • External Penetration Testing: Mimics an external attack on the organization’s external-facing technology, such as websites, email servers, and firewalls.

5. What are the types of penetration testing with examples?

  • Network Penetration Testing: Assessing a corporate network for vulnerabilities.
  • Application Penetration Testing: Testing web applications for security flaws (e.g., SQL injection, XSS).
  • Physical Penetration Testing: Attempting to gain physical access to a building or data center.

6. What is black box penetration testing?

  • Black box penetration testing involves assessing a system with no prior knowledge of its internal workings, similar to an attacker’s perspective.

7. What types of penetration testing tools are there?

  • Tools range from network scanners like Nmap, and vulnerability scanners like Nessus, to exploitation frameworks like Metasploit.

8. Are there different types of penetration testing aside from the black box?

  • Yes, besides the black box, there are white box and grey box tests, each with varying levels of pre-shared information.

9. What is white box penetration testing?

  • White box penetration testing involves full access to the source code, architecture documents, and system credentials.

10. What is grey box penetration testing?

  • Grey box penetration testing provides some information about the target system to the tester, striking a balance between black and white box testing.
Noor Khan

Noor Khan


My name is Noor, and I am a seasoned entrepreneur focused on the area of artificial intelligence. As a robotics and cyber security researcher, I love to share my knowledge with the community around me.

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