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White Box vs Black Box Hacking

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Today I want to discuss two major tactics in ethical hacking practices: white box and black box hacking. While white box hacking is usually the more popular choice among clients, black box hacking offers a more unique testing method.

White Box
White box is cheaper, faster, efficient, and the most commonly used method of penetration testing. It is mostly used to analyze your existing code and identify areas that need to be patched. Penetration testers work directly with your code developers to identify vulnerabilities that need to be patched in your system infrastructure layout.

Black Box
Black box hacking has no communication between developers and there is no exchanged information regarding vulnerabilities or information about the system. The “pen testers” work to simulate an attack that is similar to a possible attack by a malicious hacker. The only information that the tester is given is a target address (e.g. the domain name, IP address, or a device). From there, the tester will start making his own system layout of the target, just like a real attacker would when trying to breach your system or network.

Deciding Between White Box and Black Box
With black box, you are starting from the outside trying to get your way in, while with white box you are working from the inside to keep malicious attacks out. There is a large time difference between the two tactics. Black Box takes a lot longer because the tester has to discover your system’s vulnerabilities, compared to just being given access to your system and source code. More time means a bigger bill.

Most white box clients have already been breached and attacked prior to hiring a pen tester and are already aware that they are vulnerable to an attack or hack. But this does not mean you should pick black box over white box because you haven’t been attacked before. White box is still a great option for prevention and to become aware of present vulnerabilities that an attacker hasn’t taken advantage of yet. If you have had an automated vulnerability risk threat assessment or are looking for patching or seeking an automated vulnerability risk threat assessment, your choice should be white box testing.

Black box is ideal for big companies that might have a product or system that they don’t want to be disclosed until production release, so a black box tester could work on it behind the scenes. This is ideal during development of an upcoming product, to ensure that any vulnerabilities are addressed prior to launch.

Every company should choose the method that best addresses their needs. Still have questions on if you need black box or white box services? Just contact us and we’ll help you decide.