Terms Glossary

Black Box Testing

What is Black Box Testing?

As it applies to software or network testing, the black-box testing methodology is a method in which the testers performing it have zero knowledge of the software’s internal structure or source code or network they’re testing. They also are not required to have in-depth knowledge of programming languages or outstanding coding skills to perform the testing. 

Black Box penetration approaches your application or network as an adversary would with no previous information. As a penetration tester, black box testing may be slower and take longer as they must work to avoid detection from firewalls and intrusion detection systems. They will work to obtain credentials for an application before being able to identify vulnerabilities within it.  And they only identify vulnerabilities they can actively see as opposed to identifying all vulnerabilities within the application or network.  Because their access and knowledge are more limited, many vulnerabilities may not be seen or reported. Suppose a penetration tester cannot locate exploitable vulnerabilities within the allotted time. In that case, a client may get a false sense of security, where an actual attacker can take their time and leverage other attack vectors to find and exploit vulnerabilities.

Black-box testing is also referred to as functional testing. This form of testing aims to primarily interact with its user interface, verify and test its functionality, and ensure that every input and output of the system meets the specified requirements. With this type of testing, deep source code analysis is not part of the testing scope. 

These types of tests are performed from the point of view of end-users by an independent testing team. The tester provides valid or invalid inputs and verifies the outputs against the expected outcomes. Any unexpected result would be documented and reported to the development team. This information aids them with finding and eliminating functional errors and inconsistencies early in the software development life cycle.

It should also be noted that this method of testing is applicable at virtually every level of software testing: integration, system, unit, and acceptance testing. For example, in unit testing, the black-box method is used to test the interface against the client’s specifications. During integration testing, the aim of black box testing would be to find and remove errors between integrated components of the interface. While with acceptance testing, it can be used to determine a software product’s acceptability by testing it in unexpected circumstances.

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