Penetration Test Tip 1: Define Your Goals
Penetration testing—really, all information security activity—is about protecting the business. You are taking on the role of attacker to find the vulnerabilities and exploiting them to determine the risks to the business and making recommendations to improve security based on your findings. Attackers are trying to steal your data—their techniques are a means to an end.
Penetration Test Tip 2: Follow the data
Organizations have limited budget and limited resources for pen testing, regardless of whether you are conducting internal tests, hiring outside consultants or using a combination of both. You can't conduct penetration tests across your entire IT infrastructure, spanning hundreds or thousands of devices, yet pen testers will often be told to try to compromise devices across an extensive range of IP addresses
Penetration Test Tip 3: Talk to the Business Owners
Work with the business people. They know what is at risk—what data is critical, what applications create and interface with that data. They will know at least the more obvious places in which the data resides. They will tell you which applications must be kept up and running.
Penetration Test Tip 4: Test Against the Risk
The value of the data/applications should determine the type of testing to be conducted. For low-risk assets, periodic vulnerability scanning is a cost-effective use of resources. Medium risk might call for a combination of vulnerability scans and manual vulnerability investigation. For high-risk assets, conduct exploitative penetration testing.