Design and implementation of a non-aggressive automated penetration testing tool: An approach to automated penetration testing focusing on stability and integrity for usage in production environments
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The focus of this Master's thesis project is automated penetration testing. A penetration test is a practice used by security professionals to assess the security of a system. This process consists of attacking the system in order to reveal flaws. Automating the process of penetration testing brings some advantages, the main advantage being reduced costs in terms of time and human resources needed to perform the test. Although there exist a number of automated tools to perform the required procedures, many security professionals prefer manual testing. The main reason for this choice is that standard automated tools make use of techniques that might compromise the stability and integrity of the system under test. This is usually not acceptable since the majority of penetration tests are performed in an operating environment with high availability requirements.The goal of this thesis is to introduce a different approach to penetration testing automation that aims to achieve useful test results without the use of techniques that could damage the system under test. By investigating the procedures, challenges, and considerations that are part of the daily work of a professional penetration tester, a tool was designed to automate this new process of non-aggressive testing.The outcome of this thesis project reveals that this tool is able to provide the same results as standard automated penetration testing procedures. However, in order for the tool to completely avoid using unsafe techniques, (limited) initial access to the system under test is needed.