What is Black Box Testing?

In a Black Box Penetration Testing, the black box tester is given no details at all. In this case, the penetration tester mimics the behaviour of an unprivileged attacker, from initial access to execution to exploitation. This scenario is the most realistic, as it shows how an adversary with no internal workings can threaten and compromise a business. However, because of this, it is also the most expensive choice.

In cyber security, an unauthorized attacker with no understanding of your system, a rogue computer, or an internal and external hacker is the types of risks we’re attempting to simulate with a black box penetration test.

We’re looking at the network infrastructure from the outside for an external black box penetration test, we are putting the public-facing systems. If you work with a company that tests networks that are connected to the internet, these may include a firewall, a modem, a VPN concentrator, and a web server.

From an external black box penetration testing standpoint, we’re testing everything you’ve opened to the internet that your staff or clients can use.

Read more: What is White Box Penetration Testing?

Read more: What is Grey Box Penetration Testing?

The Types of black box penetration testing techniques

The below are some of the most common types of black box testing techniques:

figure 1: Represent different forms of black box testing techniques

Equivalence Partitioning: The practical tests are drawn from the requirements, which are written in a semiformal, standardised language. The input domain is divided into equivalence groups, with elements belonging to the same class acting equally. In this sense, the group partition is a well-known and intuitive framework for partition testing that offers a structured, formalised solution.

Boundary Value Analysis (BVA) is a type of testing that focuses on the edges, or where the most extreme boundary values are selected. Minimum, median, only inside/outside margins, error values, and normal values are all included.

Fuzzing: In an automated or semi-automated session, fuzz testing is used to discover implementation bugs by injecting malformed/semi-malformed results.

Cause-Effect Graph: This is a research methodology that starts with the creation of a graph and the determination of the relationship between the result and its causes. The four fundamental symbols that express the interdependency between cause and effect are identity, negation, logic OR, and logic AND.

Orthogonal Array Checking (OAT) is a technique that can be used to solve problems where the input domain is small but too large for exhaustive testing.

All Pair Testing: Test cases are designed to perform all possible discrete variations of each pair of input parameters in the all pair testing technique. Its key goal is to provide a series of cases that encompasses all of the possible pairs.

State Transition Testing: This method of testing can be used to evaluate state machines as well as graphical user interface navigation.

Other black box penetration testing techniques not mentioned and/or demonstrated in the image (figure1):

Decision Table Testing (DTT): The decision table is a black box research tool that can be used to analyse various input variations. A table is used to display these inputs and their outputs in this procedure. It’s a table that shows the input conditions and the behaviours that follow.

Error Guessing (EG): Error guessing is a method for estimating the most common source code errors. Error guessing aids in the detection of certain flaws that are missed by traditional systematic methods. It is based on the tester’s previous interactions with the device and his or her ability to predict when errors would recur.

Five Phases of black box testing

Dixons Carphone’s CISO, Paul Midian, recommends five stages of black box penetration testing.


Ethical hackers investigate the consumer prior to the tests to get a good view of the objective. The customer’s website, WHOIS directories (online archives with domain names), internet search engines, trade journals, and even the yellow pages are also useful outlets to gain a level of knowledge public knowledge.


At this point, ethical hackers can obtain a large amount of information about listening services and ports in order to evaluate the customer’s operating system. TCP-UDP ports 137, 138, 139, and 445, for example, indicate Microsoft OS; SSH on port 22, FT on port 21, and DNS on port 53, on the other hand, indicate Linux OS.

NMap, a tool that uses TCP/IP stack fingerprinting to decide the type of OS, is another choice. The hacker team will also check the network for unreliable dial-in modems (which can be used to get through perimeter defences) and run a vulnerability detector (an automated tool that inspects the network for security breaches and generates a detailed report on the search results).


The enumeration process aims to bind target hosts in order to reveal network attack vectors. Ethical hackers concentrate their efforts on open network networks and shares that could have a direct connection to the customer’s sensitive infrastructure, usernames and user classes (to identify default user or administrator accounts), and banner screens (if misconfigured, they may expose the software and device type).

Gaining access

The climax of the penetration testing operation is gaining entry. The research team then tries to hack the target device by using password splitting, buffer overflows, or DoS attacks on individual network nodes.

Privilege escalation and access maintaining

If the hacker team has gained access to the network without having any preferential privileges, they intend to use password cracking software to achieve administrator level of access and preserve network access. This is achieved by creating backdoors, which are then destroyed by ethical hackers before the experiment is completed.

The advantages of black box penetration testing

Black box testing is essential for application protection because it has several advantages over other type of penetration testing. However, the optimal outcomes can only be achieved where a company coordinates multiple research practices rather than relying on a single testing approach. Among the many advantages are:

  • When trying to hack through an application, the testers use a range of strategies.
  • They mimic a real attack to spot any unpredictable outcomes.
  • XSS, SQL injection, CSRF, and other common vulnerabilities are thoroughly examined.
  • It also looks for problems with server misconfiguration.
  • To easily patch bugs, use thorough remediation material.

The disadvantages of black box penetration testing

The effectiveness of Black Box Penetration Testing is dependent on the pen-ability of tester’s to penetrate the perimeter by identifying security flaws.

  • Testing is unsuccessful if the tester is unable to detect and manipulate bugs in external-facing assets and facilities, and companies will exist in a false sense of security. Not just that, but the pen-test investment would be a waste of money.
  • The scope of coverage is limited by the details provided to the pen tester, the coverage provided by an automatic scanner, and the pen tester’s capacity and time allotted to go deeper.
  • Opacity testing, functional testing, near box testing, and behavioural testing are some synonyms for the black box testing methodology.

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