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Physical Penetration Testing Hero
Understand the true strength and effectiveness of physical security controls in data centers, offices, substations, critical infrastructure and more

What is physical penetration testing?

A physical penetration test assesses all physical security controls, including locks, fences, security guards, cameras, and other security measures. During a physical penetration test, attempts to thwart these controls to gain physical access to restricted areas, identify sensitive data, and gain an entry to a network.

Why is physical penetration testing important?

A physical penetration test assesses the risk of an attacker physically breaking into your organization. Physical threats that could be simulated include bypassing door locks, stealing devices, or using social engineering to convince an employee to let them inside a server room.

While many businesses do an excellent job of protecting their network and applications against the threat of a virtual cyber-attack, many organizations don't consider the risk associated with a possible physical attack on their locations.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, no cybersecurity professionals can claim to provide true information security or effective security controls without strong physical security. RedTeam Security's physical penetration test experts know exactly how bad actors gain physical access to sensitive, secured areas. They use this experience to provide recommendations to improve access controls and, therefore, overall security posture.

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Benefits of Performing a RedTeam Physical Penetration Test

You will realize two main benefits from Red Team's Physical Penetration Testing Services:

  • Expose weak physical barriers: RedTeam Security's security assessment will expose physical security vulnerabilities like gaps in fences, doors that are hung improperly, and procedures that are not followed.
  • Understand the risks: As part of the vulnerability assessment, RedTeam Security will perform simulated attacks against physical barriers, which will provide an idea of the kind of damage that any security weaknesses could leave your business exposed to. When companies know the degree of damage they could face, they can prioritize remediation actions.

RedTeam Security will provide remediation suggestions to improve an organization's overall security program. A RedTeam Security Physical Penetration Test will expand your security awareness program to include testing the procedures, alarm and access systems, and physical barriers that protect the sensitive information located at your physical location.

Physical Penetration Testing

RedTeam Security's Physical Penetration Test Solution

RedTeam Security's physical pen testing solution uncovers real-world vulnerabilities in the physical barriers and the systems that support them, meant to protect employees, sensitive information, and expensive hardware. Physical pen test specialists create simulated attacks that mimic criminals' actions to gain unauthorized access to sensitive equipment, data centers, or sensitive information. Some tested barriers might include doors and locks, fences, intrusion alarms, or even security guards and other employees. A RedTeam ethical hacker may leverage social engineering techniques to convince well-intentioned employees to provide building access that they should not have. They might even gain access to a meeting room and pick up credentials, access badges, or information left unattended.

RedTeam Security teams know precisely how criminals might access computer systems and buildings. A security consultant may rely upon any or all these methods to gain access to the specified locations during a physical penetration test and identify damage that could be done once that access is gained. A security consultant will take photos of:

  • Bypass Doors - If the building uses an electronic key or combination lock, RedTeam Security may clone a badge, leverage widely available master keys, or use special tools on improperly hung doors to gain access. If doors or windows are left propped open or are unlocked, those may be leveraged as an easy method to gain access.
  • Bypass Physical Barriers - If a location has fencing, gates, or other physical barriers, RedTeam Security may climb the fence, leverage gaps in the fencing, or bypass gate controls using publicly available techniques.
  • Identify Ways to Steal Information - Once RedTeam Security has gained access to a location, the penetration tester will observe ways to obtain confidential or sensitive information. This could include identifying unattended computers with active sessions, abandoned access cards, computer screens with confidential data facing common areas, or sensitive information in the trash.

    Note: RedTeam Security does not remove equipment; they will take a photo as evidence of damage that could be done.
  • Network Jacks in Public Areas - The security engineer may attempt to connect to the company network by connecting their device through network jacks in community areas (i.e., conference rooms, break rooms) to identify opportunities to harm.
  • Gain Access to Sensitive Areas - The RedTeam Security physical security expert may attempt to gain access to sensitive areas of a building, including server rooms, executive offices, or other identified locations.  If a bad actor gained access to this room, they could easily disable the machines. They might also use unattended peripherals to steal data or introduce a virus.
  • Check the Trash - The penetration tester may look into the types of materials employees discard and whether the company has a shredding policy and available shredders. If this kind of information makes it to a dumpster, criminals will find it easy to steal.
  • Social Engineering - Social engineering techniques could be leveraged to gain access to a location by tailgating or leveraging a pretext to mislead employees and convince them to allow access to the building or sensitive information or locations within the building.
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Our Methodology

Learn more about RedTeam Security's Physical Penetration Testing Methodology.

Deliverables

A RedTeam Security Physical Physical Penetration Test Report provides detailed, actionable information to help improve physical security controls and the overall security posture of an organization. The report will include:

  • Information learned during the Information Gathering and Reconnaissance phases of the project.
  • Detailed steps, methods, and pretexts used during the execution of the physical penetration testing engagement
  • Identification of successful and unsuccessful actions
  • Evidence of security risks or mitigations observed during the engagement
  • Recommendations for how to reduce risks in the future

This information will provide a roadmap for the next steps to reduce risk.

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Get a Free Physical Penetration Testing Consultation From RedTeam Security

While businesses have focused on securing networks, apps, and computers against online attacks, 42 percent of security professionals say that they're very concerned about physical threats that could range from an attacker kicking in a door to simply convincing a credentialed employee to let them in. The most robust online security systems will not protect businesses against physical or hybrid attacks.

One recent survey revealed 28% of respondents saw an increase in physical security incidents in 2021, up from 20% of respondents in 2020. While a physical security incident could simply mean theft of a single laptop, companies end up losing much more than laptops or phones; they also lose data and credentials. As the Coplin Health Systems breach of 2018 taught us, even the theft of a single unencrypted laptop can mean the exposure of 43,000 patient names, social security number, financial data, addresses, dates of birth, and medical data.

Another threat to physical devices that can have devastating results comes from USB thumb drive attacks. For example, criminals will leave infected USB drives in parking lots for unsuspecting employees to retrieve and plug into their work devices. This happened at a secure U.S. Army base in the Middle East, and the virus spread through both unsecured and secured systems in multiple countries.

Physical penetration testing allows your organization with a chance to uncover and remediate any physical security vulnerabilities. Get started by scheduling an appointment to discuss concerns with a RedTeam Security consultant online or call (952) 836-2770. RedTeam Security can also provide security teams for network, application, and online social engineering attacks.

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Physical Penetration Testing FAQs

  • Who needs physical penetration testing services?

    All brick-and-mortar businesses should assess their security through physical penetration tests. Organizations should focus heavily on their physical penetration tests include:

    • Utility providers should evaluate the risk to substations, ICS/SCADA systems, etc.
    • Healthcare call centers should evaluate whether customer health information can be obtained.
    • Medical facilities should ensure patient health and information cannot be breached
    • Education Facilities should evaluate and ensure that safety protocols are in place
    • Retailers should evaluate the risk of an attacker at a store or branch location.
    • Financial institutions should evaluate the risk of an attacker at a branch
    • Organizations need to upgrade their physical security or evaluate the effectiveness of recent security upgrades.
  • What is pretexting in cyber security?
    A cyber security pretext is when the attacker pretends to be an authority figure by staging scenarios, baiting a victim, and convincing that victim to provide valuable information that they would not normally disclose.
  • What is elicitation insider threat awareness?
    Elicitation is the use of conversation to extract information discreetly. An insider threat is typically an authorized person who intentionally or unintentionally uses or discloses information or systems that compromises an organization. Elicitation insider threats typically emerge from seemingly harmless communication. Elicitation insider threat awareness is educating staff to recognize the possibility of a threat.
  • How to prepare for your physical penetration test?

    To prepare for physical penetration testing, you need to: 

    • Understand your assets. What is it that those with malicious intent might seek to access? 
    • Identify parameters, objectives, and priorities. What do you want to verify or evaluate? 
    • Define who will be aware of the penetration testing before it starts 
    • Consider your threat actors. This might be a malicious insider, an angry ex-employee, an organized crime unit, an opportunist jumping on a crime of opportunity, nation-states 
    • Determine who is going to be the company's point of contact during the execution of the testing. 
  • How long does it take to do penetration testing?
    Depending on the size of the penetration test, it could take as little as two to three weeks.

Get a Customized Proposal

Use our Scoping Questionnaire to provide us with the necessary information to put together a proposal for you. Please be as thorough as possible with your responses, as it helps us ensure an accurate and complete proposal.
If you're interested in application penetration testing, you may find this article helpful when formulating your responses: Understanding Application Complexity For Penetration Testing.

If you have any questions, contact us at (952) 836-2770 or schedule a meeting. We will follow up promptly once we receive your responses. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Dedicated Client Portal

Interact in real-time with your RedTeam security professionals on our user-friendly client portal and see firsthand as the team closes in on your company data.

Certified Security Experts

Our trusted security professionals hold certifications from the leading industry organizations, including OSCP, CASS, CPT, CISSP and more.

Research-Focused Approach

We hold industry-leading certifications and dedicate part of every day to research the latest exploit techniques to ensure our clients remain protected from evolving online attacks.

Free Remediation Testing

Once your team addresses remediation recommendations, RedTeam will schedule your retest at no additional charge.
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