What You Need to Know About Software Penetration Testing Standards?

What You Need to Know About Software Penetration Testing Standards

If you’re an amateur in the field of cybersecurity, you may be familiar with penetration testing and its various benefits. However, each firm has to also abide by certain penetration testing standards under each industry or for testing the security of a particular component.

Your chosen penetration testing service provider will need to keep these standards in mind when designing the testing procedure in order to meet compliance standards.

The results from each pentesting attempt can be different based on different penetration testing standards. They are also helpful in providing methodologies for those companies who wish to update their security barriers and reduce the occurrence of cyberattacks.

5 Different Penetration Testing Standards

Cybersecurity experts are working constantly on the lookout for new threat vectors and updating the software penetration testing standards accordingly to ensure optimal security.

Therefore, testing by these standards will ensure that you’re protecting against common and updated threats.

Here are some of the most commonly used frameworks:


The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is the most popular penetration testing standard for the security of web applications. The testing standard is maintained by experts in the field who keep updated on the latest threats and modify the methodologies as soon as possible.

This standard provides a methodology for application penetration testing and is designed to detect the maximum number of vulnerabilities. It also captures flaws in the application logic due to inadequacies in the development and coding phases.

There are detailed guidelines for each pentesting method and a total of 66 parameters that should be assessed.

The entire process makes sure that the ethical hackers are able to detect the vulnerabilities within the wide scope of functions and capabilities found in today’s applications.

The penetration testing standard is also equipped to detect common flaws in the security approach that can impact regular business operations.

Firms that are looking to release new applications should ensure that their pentesting provider tests their assets with this standard during the production phase.

At the same time, firms should also ensure that every application security audit conducts pentesting by this standard for comprehensive vulnerability identification and realistic recommendations.


PTES refers to the Penetration Testing Execution Standard and provides the best testing approach when conducting online penetration testing. Testers gain insights into the various steps of the pentesting procedure including reconnaissance, communication, and the threat modeling phases.

The first step involves the testers making themselves familiar with the organization, its technical context, and other information for finding out potential vulnerabilities. This allows the testers to prepare advanced threat scenarios that could be implemented and exploited.

There are associated guidelines for the post-exploitation phase which involves retesting to ensure that the vulnerabilities have been successfully resolved.

The standard provides seven phases of the penetration testing procedure along with suitable recommendations so that the firm can take the right decisions for its security.


The Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM) covers the detailed penetration testing methodology for network security. Ethical hackers use this standard to inform their approach to identifying maximum security vulnerabilities within the network and its components.

The standard also relies on the tester’s skills and expertise to provide context to the identified vulnerabilities and their impact on the firm’s network.

The firm’s network development team can also use this standard to refine their firewalls and network security.

It doesn’t recommend any particular network protocol or software but provides a list of best practices to be followed.

Testers can use this standard to customize their attack methods to fit the company’s technological context. It helps in providing an overall assessment of the network’s security levels and suitable recommendations to keep your network safe.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a manual that offers detailed guidelines on conducting an optimal penetration testing procedure for overall security.

Adhering to the NIST framework can often be mandated to conduct business with certain companies because of its comprehensive nature.

The standard covers different firms and industries such as banking and communications, allowing small and large firms to follow it with suitable tweaks. Companies conduct penetration testing on their network and applications with the help of the guidelines given in the manual.

It majorly focuses on information security and achieves assessment goals by reducing the risk of a hacking attempt.

Since it’s applicable for multiple sectors, many stakeholders popularize the standard in order to ensure a common set of security standards.


With a structured and specialized approach to penetration testing, the Information Systems Security Assessment Framework (ISSAF) adopts an advanced methodology that’s customized to your security situation.

Each stage is precisely planned and documented, from the planning and exploitation stages to the reporting stage.

If the tester is using a combination of multiple tools, ISSAF is the ideal standard to follow. Moreover, ISSAF provides additional details for each vulnerable section with possible attack vectors.


Various industries continue to develop threats and hacking technologies, so companies need to improve their cybersecurity testing approach to keep up with the latest technologies and potential attack scenarios. A step in that direction is implementing up-to-date cybersecurity frameworks.

Penetration testing standards and methodologies can be used as a benchmark for determining your cybersecurity and making recommendations based on your specific context so you’re protected against hackers.

Author Bio:

Ankit Pahuja is the Marketing Lead & Evangelist at Astra Security. Ever since his adulthood (literally, he was 20 years old), he began finding vulnerabilities in websites & network infrastructures. Starting his professional career as a software engineer at one of the unicorns enables him in bringing “engineering in marketing” to reality. Working actively in the cybersecurity space for more than 2 years makes him the perfect T-shaped marketing professional. Ankit is an avid speaker in the security space and has delivered various talks in top companies, early-age startups, and online events.

You can connect with him on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ankit-pahuja/

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I am a full-time professional blogger from India. I like reading various tech magazines and several other blogs on the internet.

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