WHITE BOX, GRAY BOX AND BLACK BOX
What is the difference?
11/05/2021

Cybersecurity is an important issue for organizations, especially now since we are in remote work, servers are being migrated to the Cloud and most of the confidential data is in digital format.

The technological acceleration, verified in the last years in a COVID-19 pandemic scenario, has meant that some steps to implement security measures were ignored. This lapse could bring serious impact to organizations, making them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Pentest emerged as a measure that helps organizations test their cybersecurity resilience and overcome their vulnerabilities, making them more protected and secure.
Pentest can be carried out in different viewpoints, each of which will have different goals. Among them, we can highlight the White Box, Gray Box, and Black Box.

Next, we show the differences between these three types of Pentest. pentest.png
WHITE BOX
The White Box test is the most complete Pentest because it performs a complete analysis, which evaluates the entire network infrastructure.

When Pentest starts, the Pentester has access to all essential organization information, such as topography, passwords, IPs, logins, among other data regarding the network, servers, structure, potential security measures, firewalls, etc. Access to information makes this a deeper attack.

Access to preliminary information allows the Pentester to target the attack accurately and find out what needs to be improved and refocused. The White Box provides a comprehensive assessment of internal and external vulnerabilities.
As the Pentesters have access to information, the approach is different from the Black Box and, therefore, some vulnerabilities may not be detected.

This type of Pentest is usually carried out by the organization's IT team.


GRAY BOX
The Gray Box is a mix of White Box and Black Box instrumentality tests, since it has specific information, although it does not have full access to information like the White Box. The Pentester aims to explore the partial information to get more data and perform the attack.
Generally, the organization that contracts this service provides a detailed purpose of the simulated attack, to ensure that Pentesters remain within the limits of what is to be tested. The purpose of the Gray Box is to provide a more focused and efficient assessment of the network’s security compared to a Black Box assessment.

Given that Pentesters already have the necessary information, they have more time to determine which parts of the information are more critical and perform tests according to the different levels of risk.


BLACK BOX
The Black Box test does not have much information about the organization, sometimes it only has access to its name, so it resembles an external attack.

Without a large mapping of information, the Black Box test acts similarly to a cyber-attack, acknowledging weaknesses in an organization's network structure.

This test is used when we want to simulate a real attack by a hacker. The purpose is to test the existing security protocols and policies.
The Black Box is the intrusion test that takes more time to prepare and plan, as it is at a bigger scale and meticulous. If not performed correctly, it can also impact the network.


After analysing the different types of Pentest, it may be concluded that there is no best intrusion test, it all depends on the purpose, context, and results we intend to obtain.
The important thing is to know what the best approach is for a is given situation.
There is no purpose in using a deeper test in an application that we know in advance that it is vulnerable, as well as there is no purpose in carrying out a more superficial test in a critical application that will be exposed to all external risks.

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