What Is Manual Penetration Testing?

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Manual pen testing, also known as “pen testing,” is a process of attacking and breaking into a computer system or network to find vulnerabilities.

In contrast to automated pen testing and vulnerability scanning, which looks for known security issues, pen testing is focused on finding unknown vulnerabilities that may exist in systems. Penetration testers use various techniques to gain access to systems, including exploiting known flaws, social engineering, and password cracking.

By identifying and exploiting these vulnerabilities, organizations can improve the security of their systems and networks. A manual pen test can be time-consuming, but it is one of the most effective ways to find security vulnerabilities and weaknesses in systems.

What is manual penetration testing?

When a manual penetration test is done by human beings or teams with expertise in hacking systems, it can provide an immersive experience for stakeholders who want to understand how their own security protocols work.

Manual penetration testers use tools such as Netsparker, Wireshark (a packet analyzer), and the Aircrack suite. They help locate all initial level vulnerabilities allowing them to devise protection and mitigation plans accordingly.

Moreover, manual pen tests are helpful in cyberspace because it helps in discovering new vulnerabilities that specific automated penetration testing tools have not found.

The manual penetration testing process is one of the most critical ways for security researchers and developers to discover any vulnerabilities in your application. It’s also crucial to keep yourself from using only OWASP guidelines because it would then be missing key areas such as web services or other projects.

Instead, use all available resources. This includes both pen-tests conducted internally via development team members alongside external ethical hackers who will look at these same applications from different angles.

Importance of a manual pen test

Manual penetration testing is a significant step in cyber security because it helps reduce possible attacks on web and mobile applications.

Not only does this type of manual pen testing protect businesses from external sources, but it also identifies potential flaws within your organization’s own infrastructure and architecture so you can take steps toward meeting regulatory compliance, such as PCI DSS or HITRUST.

How to perform manual pen testing?

Hacking is a complex process. It requires extensive knowledge of security holes and the ability to navigate through them with ease, all while staying hidden from detection by network managers or other hackers who could attempt to deny you access on-site if their defenses are overcome first.

Manual penetration testing is performed internally (to see how well our systems protect ourselves) and externally, where we use different exploit methods depending upon what might work best for this particular situation, but always following OWASP guidelines and ethical hacking standards.

Manual penetration testing process

The security experts prepare a running profile of attack methods that can be used against your target system.

Vulnerabilities are becoming increasingly harder to find, but vulnerability assessment and detection techniques have never been more advanced.

A team of experts regularly executes test cases and ensures that solutions don’t affect business functionality when it comes time for you to detect software vulnerabilities on your target system.

They use their knowledge of how an application works, what data is stored inside it, and where the vulnerable spots might be located.

Next, they craft a specially designed malware that will cause damage without getting detected by anti-virus programs while also taking note if possible overlay networks or other protective measures taken against similar attacks.

They ensure that the data captured through their operation is analyzed for vulnerabilities and issues. They then use this information to plan how best to remediate these problems, so we can all feel safe in our digital world.

Manual penetration testing methodology

Understanding requirements

Web and mobile applications have unique requirements that need to be understood by the developer. They like understanding your application’s nature and how it operates before starting work on them so we can deliver precisely what meets all these criteria.

Information gathering

Understanding your system’s work can be vital in providing the right security solution. That’s why they do proper recon on your target and get as much information as possible before making any assumptions or recommendations about what might suit them best.

Vulnerability analysis

Vulnerabilities can be a massive risk to your system. That is why it’s crucial for you, as an IT professional or security enthusiast, to take the time and invest in vulnerability analysis.

You will first go over OWASP’s top 10 list of vital weaknesses that could potentially let hackers into our networks with ease, after which I’ll show how this same process might help us find additional holes, too, if there are any present lurking out within them waiting patiently just beyond reach until now.


With a hacker’s mind, security researchers identify your system’s vulnerabilities to help you patch them up and make them less susceptible.


So you want to know how your developers can help? They’ll submit a report with all the information they have on this so they know what needs fixing.

Manual penetration testing types

The need for manual penetration testing has never been more urgent. Recently we saw an increase in cyberattacks, with 3 million records being breached. How will we know if our system is up against a focused or comprehensive attack?

It’s essential to understand the difference between these types so that you can create proper defense strategies accordingly, so those types.

Grey box penetration testing

White box penetration testing

Black box penetration testing

They can be classified into two main categories:

Focused manual testing

The first kind, Focused Manual Penetration Testing focuses on one specific aspect of your website security and tries only those vulnerabilities which match this criterion.

For instance, a company might have all its employees go through part of its security protocols before granting access to its intranet. It might, for example, require them to prove their identity by showing a retina scan ID.

The problem with this strategy is that there are several other ways in which one can be granted access to susceptible systems.

Focused manual penetration testing is the best way to find vulnerabilities that automated tests and tools won’t detect.

Vulnerabilities found during focused manual tests may not be reported by them because they are so specific and tailored toward your organization’s needs.

Comprehensive manual testing

The comprehensive manual penetration testing method is a great way to analyze the whole infrastructure and determine potential risks.

The only drawback, you need more time than other methods because you have complete control over every aspect of your environment,

This means that any flaws or vulnerabilities will show up as soon as they exist, for they did not go unnoticed by automated tools like those used by most vendors today who rely heavily on automated testing with heuristic detections (which can frequently produce incorrect results).

Time-boxed manual penetration testing

The result of penetration tests is not limited to just finding high-risk flaws.

It can also include testing for low and medium-risk issues. Still, in cases where time or budget constraints make it challenging, we focus our efforts on those areas that most urgently need attention, such as injection attacks, because they have more significant potential consequences than other types of mistakes made by an attacker (such authorization).


While automated penetration testing is excellent for finding surface-level vulnerabilities, manual penetration testing can help you find the really complicated ones. Manual testing takes a lot more time and effort but can be worth it in terms of the information and insights it provides.

If you want a severe security analysis on your website, we recommend trying manual penetration testing.

And if you want to learn more about how it works (or see some cool hacker tricks), check out our website. We have lots of resources that will help get you started. Thanks for reading.

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