Gray Box Penetration Testing: What is it and how do you do it?

Penetration testing is a method of evaluating the security of an application. It is used to find out if there is any vulnerability in your website or app that could be exploited by hackers, malicious users, and attackers for unauthorized access. Penetration tests will help you prevent cyber threats like attacks, frauds, data breaches, etc. The main goal of penetration testing is to simulate real-world hacking techniques on applications without causing damage (or at least as little possible). With this approach, it can be easier to identify which risks need more attention from both technical and business perspectives.

Gray Box Penetration Testing

There are different types of penetration testing such as Whitebox, Graybox, and Blackbox; these are carried out to pentest any web app or network and discover potential security loopholes in order to fix them on time.

In this blog post, we will describe what gray box testing is and how to do it yourself. So, let’s dig in!

What is Gray Box Penetration Testing?

Gray box penetration testing is a practice of performing a penetration test by starting from outside the network and working your way in. This process allows for quick identification of security vulnerabilities that might otherwise go undetected if you started on the inside. It also provides an effective means for testing firewall configurations, IDS/IPS, and other perimeter defenses.

Why do you need Gray Box Penetration Testing?

Every organization, in order to protect itself from cyber threats and attacks, must carry out penetration tests. Especially when it comes to the critical infrastructure of a country or financial sector companies that are dealing with sensitive information there is no room for errors.

Gray box penetration testing is an efficient way of identifying security issues in applications without having full knowledge about their infrastructure/architecture. It enables testers with limited information on the internal structure of the application they are trying to hack into so it’s also a cost-effective method since time consumption is reduced drastically compared to BlackBox pen-testing.

With Gray box testing, it is possible to discover vulnerabilities that will put the company’s data at risk.

Who should perform gray-box penetration tests?

Gray-box Penetration can be performed by experienced security professionals who have a deep understanding of hacking techniques and how they work. This type of test allows for quick identification of security precautions that might otherwise go undetected if you were only performing white or black-box testing. For this reason, in some cases where time is an important factor when conducting a pen-test – such as in the critical infrastructure sector – gray box testing is preferred over other methods.

How do I conduct a Gray Box Penetration Test?

In order to properly carry out a gray box penetration test, you need proper knowledge of your target’s infrastructure. You need to know the network topology, which hardware and software are running on it, what types of applications are in use etc.

There are some steps you need to follow if you want to carry out this type of penetration test:

  • Research your target using Google Hacking Database, Nmap etc. Find as much information about it as possible.
  • Build a lab that contains most of your organization’s infrastructure within it (servers, routers, switches).
  • Choose one specific system inside your lab and start compromising every single device to it until you finally gain control over it.
  • Now, you will need to find vulnerabilities in this system and try to exploit them. You can use tools like Astra Pentest, Acunetix etc for this purpose.
  • Use your newly acquired access point to launch attacks against the company network using Metasploit or other hacking tool. Try to compromise as many systems inside that network until finally reach the final target (goal).

Benefits of Gray Box Penetration Testing:

Gray-box Penetration provides many benefits for both penetration testers and their clients; the most important are listed below:

  • Fast – this method is often used in critical infrastructure companies where time might mean losing sensitive information. With gray box testing it is possible to quickly identify security vulnerabilities before they become an issue. Quick identification allows for fast resolution thus preventing unauthorized access which could pose a threat to the company’s data integrity. It also speeds up the process of identifying best practices among other issues such as configuration errors etc.
  • Simplicity – since the penetration tester has a clear idea about the environment they are testing, it is much easier to create tests and define goals. This enables testers to focus on what really matters instead of wasting time figuring out how things work or where certain vulnerabilities lie.
  • Accuracy – because you have knowledge about your target’s infrastructure, hardware and software that run there as well as different applications being used, you can test more accurately for security risks at every level from perimeter down to internal network.


There is no doubt that gray box Penetration provides many benefits over other types of pen tests due to its simplicity and fast results which makes it an ideal choice when conducting a critical assessment in order not find potential threats before anyone else does.

Asim Boss

Muhammad Asim is a Professional Blogger, Writer, SEO Expert. With over 5 years of experience, he handles clients globally & also educates others with different digital marketing tactics.

Asim Boss has 3444 posts and counting. See all posts by Asim Boss

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