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White Box and Black Box Hacking

October 16, 2012

 

For those of you that have been following my previous blogs, especially one on ethical hacking services, would know we have had a bit of a pattern in our blogging recently. And that topic is all about ethical hacking. Today I want to discuss two major tactics in ethical hacking practices, which are white box and black box hacking. While white box hacking is possibly the more popular choice among clients, black box hacking offers a more unique testing method. In this article we will take a look at the differences between black box and white box hacking.

 

White box is a cheaper, faster, efficient, and most commonly used method of penetration testing. It is mostly used to analyze your existing code and identify areas that need to be patched. Penetration testers work directly with your code developers to identify vulnerabilities that need to be patched in your system infrastructure layout. Conversely, black box hacking has no communication between developers and there is not exchanged information regarding vulnerabilities or information about the system.

 

The “pen” testers work to simulate an attack, akin to a possible attack by a malicious hacker. In other words, the only information that the tester is given is a target address, be that the domain name, IP address, or a device for example. From there the tester will start making his own system layout of the target just like a real attacker would when breaching your system or network. There is a serious time gap between the two tactics. It would take a lot longer to have a tester discover your system’s vulnerabilities than being given access to your system and source code. More time means a bigger bill. Not only is there a huge time gap between the two methods, there is also a big payment difference. With such a price difference it is more convenient for small businesses to choose white box penetration testing. I look at it in this way: with black box you are starting from the outside trying to get your way in, while with white box you are working for the inside to keep malicious attacks out.Most white box clients have already been breached and attacked prior to hiring a pen tester to perform white box hacking services and are currently aware that they are vulnerable to an attack or hack. This does not mean you should pick black box over white box because you haven’t been attacked before. White box is still a perfect option to prevent, and be aware of, future attacks or present vulnerabilities that an attacker hasn’t taken advantage of yet. Clients may have an automated vulnerability risk threat assessment and are looking for patching, or seeking automated vulnerability risk threat assessment. In that case your choice should be white box testing. Black box is ideal for big companies that might have a product or system that they don’t want to be disclosed until production release, so a black box tester could work on it behind the scenes. Black box is great for companies that are in development of an upcoming product and want the product tested to ensure any vulnerabilities are addressed. Each company should choose the method that best addresses their needs. Now ask yourself, do you need black box or white box services?

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