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RE: What is being a pen tester really like?
From: "Paul Melson" <pmelson () gmail com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 15:28:15 -0400

-----Original Message-----
Subject: What is being a pen tester really like?

rahul.joshi2 () googlemail com wrote:

I am currently a Java developer but I'm seriously thinking of changing
paths to 
a career in security and pen testing. 

What I would like to know is what is being a pen tester really like?

Despite what you may have heard, being a successful pen-tester (meaning, you
get hired and make a living at it) is not very hard, nor does it require a
lot of very deep technical skill.  What it really requires is good verbal
and written communication skills, the ability to work well with clients, and
the ability to explain security (even inaccurately) in terms of business
value.  Do those things, and you can be successful.

The dirty truth about pen testers is that most of them have a handful of
tools and scripts (like Nessus and Retina) and run them with the same
configs against every customer and have the same canned recommendations
based on the results that their tools spit out.  Hell, most vuln scanners
spit out their own remediation recommendations for the pen tester to simply
hand over to their customers.  Additionally, for a pen test to have the
appearance of being successful, it only needs to find some of the
vulnerabilities present on a network or in an application.  Unlike being a
network engineer or an sysadmin where your work has to stand up to the 24/7
scrutiny of a live environment, being a pen tester means only needing to be
right more often than you're wrong.  

Not to take away from the skills or experience of any individual pen testers
out there.  There are some Mario Andretti's out there driving school busses,
if I may.  


PaulM



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