How IT Governance’s Learning Paths Can Help You Become a Penetration Tester

Penetration testing is one of the most popular entry points for people interested in a cyber security career. There is a huge demand for qualified professionals, you don’t need a degree to begin training, and the job provides plenty of room for career progression.

So how do you get started? Read our blog to discover everything you need to know.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing is a controlled form of hacking in which a professional tester (often known as an ethical hacker) attempts to break into an organisation’s systems using the same techniques as a cyber criminal.

Once they’ve completed their assessment, the penetration tester compiles a report of their findings and provides tips on how the organisation can secure its systems.

The process gives organisations a real-world understanding of their security defences. They’ll receive more in-depth analysis than they would get with an internal vulnerability scan, because a penetration test shows specifically how vulnerabilities can be exploited.

Penetration tests come in many forms depending on the systems being analysed. You can probe external or internal networks, web applications and wireless networks.

Some penetration tests even analyse security weaknesses presented by employees, with testers sending simulated phishing scams to see who falls for the bait.

How a penetration test is conducted can also depend on the organisation’s resources and preferences. Sometimes testers will be required to perform an on-site test. This means that the job of a penetration test involves plenty of travel, as the tester goes from organisation to organisation performing tests.

However, tests can also be conducted remotely. This reflects how cyber attacks would occur in real life – the attacker wouldn’t go to the premises of the organisation they were targeting.

Penetration testing qualifications

The only mandatory qualification required to be a penetration tester is the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) qualification. This is a two-step process. First, you must pass an exam, which consists of 125 multiple-choice questions to be completed in four hours.

IT Governance can help you prepare for the exam with its Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Training Course.

This five-day course gives you practical, hands-on experience with ethical hacking. You’ll be shown the strategies, tactics, technologies, tools and motivations of criminal hackers, and be given the opportunity to replicate their methods.

Once you have passed the exam, you must sit the CEH Practical assessment. You can think of it like passing your driving test: you must first pass your theory exam before sitting a practical test.

With our training course, you’ll receive continued support from our tutor as you prepare for the practical exam. You’ll also be given six months online access to EC-Council iLabs to further develop your skills.

When you’re ready, it’s time to take the CEH Practical exam, where you’ll be tested on your ability to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems, databases and networks.

Those who pass will receive the CEH (Practical) certification, which is globally recognised as the vendor-neutral qualification of choice for developing a senior career in ethical hacking and penetration testing.

Not so fast

The guidelines for how to get into penetration testing are quite vague. The EC-Council states that you must have at least two years’ IT work experience and an understanding of and some experience with operating systems, TCP/IP and networking.

Although many people in an IT role might already meet these conditions, they won’t necessarily have the necessary skills to take the next step up and become a penetration tester.

That’s where IT Governance’s learning path comes in handy. We’ve developed a pathway that can give you the necessary skills to meet the EC-Council’s criteria.

If you don’t already have practical experience with TCP/IP and networking, we recommend gaining one of two ComTIA qualifications: the Network+ or the Security+ certification.

The CompTIA Security+ qualification in particular is hugely beneficial for anyone looking to enter the cyber security industry.

It was created in 2002 to meet the growing demand for qualified and specialised information security professionals, and it’s widely considered to be one of the best introductions to the industry.

The training course covers a range of topics, including network security, access controls, cryptography and risk management.

As a vendor-neutral qualification, it addresses a wide range of topics and makes it a suitable starting point for many different fields, including penetration testing.

Speak to one of our experts

You can find out more about how to become a penetration tester by speaking to one of our experts.

Our team of qualified trainers have extensive knowledge and understanding of cyber security, data protection and IT governance.

We offer a wide range of training courses designed to work around your needs. This includes bespoke in-house tuition, staff awareness courses and classroom training.

Learn in your own time with our pre-recorded distance learning courses, or attend a live training course online.

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