black box penetration test

Black Box Penetration Testing Explained

Black Box Penetration TestingThis blog post is a transcript of Christian Espinosa’s explanation of Black Box Penetration Testing, which covers the following:

  • Differences between Black, Gray, and White Box Penetration Tests
  • Internal vs. External Black Box Penetration Tests
  • Blac Box Threats Emulated
    • External Hacker with little or no insider knowledge
    • Rogue Device
    • Internal Intruder

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Complete Black Box Penetration Testing Video Transcript

Hi, this is Christian Espinosa with Alpine Security. In this video, we’ll cover black box penetration tests. In a previous video, we covered gray box penetration tests. I’ll put the link to that video beneath this one. With a black box penetration test, we have the least amount of knowledge from the scale of black, gray and white. A black box penetration test, you typically know very little about the target, maybe the IP address or the URL. With a gray box, you have a little bit more knowledge, typically user-level knowledge. In a white box, you typically have administrator-level knowledge or access to the schematics, the source code, the design documents, et cetera. Also with black box, this is called unauthenticated often because we do not have any level of access from a user perspective, like gray box or an administrator route level perspective like white box.

A black box penetration test can be used both internally and externally, and we’ll go over more detail of that in a second on the next slide. The threats we’re trying to emulate with a black box penetration test are an external attacker with very little knowledge about your environment, a rogue device, or an internal intruder. We’ll cover those in more detail here in a second. With an external black box penetration test, we’re looking at the perspective from outside your network. We’re testing your public-facing systems. If you’re in an organization where testing the systems that are exposed to the internet … so this could be a firewall, a router, a VPN concentrator, your web server. Anything you have exposed to the internet that your employees can access or your clients can access is what we’re testing from an external black box penetration testing perspective.

What we’re trying to emulate is an external attacker. This could be a script kiddie, somebody in China just scanning and looking to see what they can get into. It can be a botnet that’s just trying to scan for vulnerable systems, or it could be an active attacker trying to get into your environment. An example of what we might test could be your external firewall. If you’re a small organization, and all of your internal systems are Natted through a firewall for instance, you want to make sure that those firewall rules are set up properly, and you’re not allowing inbound traffic. You’re only allowing outbound traffic, and you have some rules in place. As an example, if you type in from the internal network, what is my IP, in Google, you can figure out what your public facing IP address is. This is something we would want to test because if your public facing IP address, which is often your external router or firewall, has a hole in it then the attacker may be able to exploit that hole and get access to your internal environment.

Here on the picture we have, what is my IP, we have As a quick example, if I go to Zenmap, which you can see right here, which is basically Nmap, but a graphical user interface for Nmap. This is just a quick example of reconnaissance. They put it in that IP address here, which we put in, Let’s say I do a regular scan, so I’m looking for holes on your external facing router or firewall, or you could have a next-gen firewall, you could have a UTM, et cetera. Go ahead on click on scan here. This is the first step with penetration testing. We’re trying to identify holes you may have. Right now, I’m just using Nmap with a default setting, which looks for the top 1000 ports.

It looks like we have four ports open, 53, 80, 1111 and 2111. If somebody performed an external black box penetration test against your firewall or external router, this is what they would see. Granted, they should scan all 65,535 ports. But this is the top 1000, and we have four ports open out of the top 1000. We can see here that there’s a web server running, DNS running, a few other things. And now the next step would be to identify a vulnerability and then exploit that vulnerability if possible. The reason this is important because if you have a publicly exposed IP address with a vulnerability, somebody could exploit that vulnerability and potentially pivot from the external facing system. From there, they could pivot to your internal environment and get access to your internal environment or get access to a sequel database or something else. You want to make sure you test your environment from an external perspective.

With an internal black box penetration test, we’re looking at the environment from inside your firewall. Really, we’re trying to emulate two threats, two main threats here. One of them is a rogue device, and one of them is an internal intruder. Basically, and these could kind of bleed together as the same thing because an internal intruder could plant a rogue device. But the idea is what if somebody walks into your environment and they plant a rogue device? As we see here, this is a phone plug on the screen in the picture. Let’s say they plant this device on your network. This device is a rogue device which intercepts your traffic, and can send it out via a cellular network to somebody else. Or it could actually phone home through your network and duplicate the traffic that way. Or it could serve as a pivot point.

There’s a number of things it can do, but basically the idea is can you detect or are you protected against a rogue device or an internal intruder? An internal intruder example that might be, let’s say I walk into a dentist office, I’m waiting for my appointment, I’m sitting in a chair in the waiting room and I’ve got my laptop. I’m kind of bored because I’m waiting a long time, but I noticed there’s an ethernet jack exposed in the wall behind me. Let’s say I plugged my laptop into that jack, and I just started screwing around and see what I can see on the network. If I can scan the network and maybe exploit a device on the network, on that dentist’s network, that’s from an internal intruder perspective.

Those are why we would do a black box penetration test. In summary, what we talked about are black box penetration test. The black is the least amount of information between from gray to white. You have limited knowledge, unauthenticated. A black box penetration test can be used to emulate an external attacker as well as an internal attacker or internal rogue device. That’s basically it. The black box is really the simplest type of penetration test, and it should definitely be something you consider. If you have any questions about black box penetration tests, you can leave them beneath the video. You can also subscribe to our channel. And if you’re interested in a black box penetration test against your environment, you can contact us at www.bluegoatcyber.com. Thanks. Have a good one.