RE: External Pentests Obsolete?

I think in a way, that's quite valid. If the external pen-test is just
running a scan, then there's not much to it...especially if that web
application is off-limits. Why would that be out of scope? Gartner
says (oooohhhh...) that 75% of attacks come through web applications.
How they come up with that and what that really means, I'm really not
interested in arguing but web applications are a HUGE security risk.
I'm not sure I'd be too quick to discount the Citrix and terminal server
access either. They can be locked down pretty well but they are also a
HUGE hole if they get compromised. I've seen admin accounts with no
password or a weak password that was accessible through terminal
services. I also think that part of a pen-test should include how the
"helpdesk/security center/whatever" responds to an attempted
attack....generally, they don't respond at all 'cuz they never look at
the logs.

Also, how are you defining external? How about sending e-mail to
internal clients that "phone home" in one way or another? How about that external? I think one of these tests can be a huge
eye-opener if done right. If it's just a portscan and running some
automated tool....well, that's of limited value.

-----Original Message-----
From: listbounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:listbounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Yiannis Koukouras
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2007 3:19 AM
To: pen-test@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: External Pentests Obsolete?

Hi all,

Do you think that an external infrastructure pentest is nowadays

What I want to say is that, most of the serious companies nowadays will
only have a few servers on their DMZ (web server, mail server, SSL
concentrator, terminal server, citrix) and will only allow access to one
or two ports for each of them. The rest of the infrastructure (excluding
the internet facing router and firewall) will be completely

Thus, if web application testing is out of scope, there isn't much to
test, is it? Only half a dozen of services to check vulnerabilities and
misconfiguration, check if mail rely is on, make a password bruteforce
attack(?), check that the DNS can't be poison and VOILA! You have

Do you think that it is ethical to consult our clients to "buy" an
external pentest anymore?

P.S. If I am wrong, PLEASE prove me wrong!

Ioannis Koukouras
MSc in Computer Systems Security
BEng in Electronic Engineering

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