Chapter 2. Network Security Testing Basics

Security testing is a broad term that means a lot of different things. Some of this testing will be network-based, and the goal may not necessarily be about system compromise. Instead, the testing may be more focused on impacting the service in negative ways, like causing the service to stop or be otherwise unavailable. When a service is taken offline, it’s considered a security issue. Because of that, stress testing can be an important element of security testing.

To perform network-based testing in which you are testing more of the networking elements than the applications, you need to understand how network protocol stacks are defined. One way of defining protocols and, more specifically, their interactions, is using the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. Using the OSI model, we can break the communications into different functional elements and see clearly where different pieces of information are added to the network packets as they are being created. Additionally, you can see the interaction from system to system across the functional elements.

Stress testing not only creates a lot of information for the systems and applications to handle, but also generates data the application may not expect. You can perform stress testing, and should, by deliberately breaking the rules that the application or operating system expects communications should follow. Many attacks use this rule-breaking. They can cause application failures, ...

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