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Penetration testing for harm


Suitable for

MSc in Computer Science
Computer Science, Part B
Mathematics and Computer Science, Part C
Computer Science and Philosophy, Part C
Computer Science, Part C


Current penetration testing is typically utilised for discovering how organisations might be vulnerable to external hacks, and testing methods are driven by using techniques determined to be similar to approaches used by hackers. The result being a report highlighting various exploitable weak-points and how they might result in unauthorised access should a malign entity attempt to gain access to a system. Recent research within the cybersecurity analytics group has been studying the relationship between these kinds of attack surfaces and the kinds of harm that an organisation might be exposed to. An interesting question would be whether an orientation around intent, or harm, might result in a different test strategy? Would a different focus be given to the kinds of attack vectors explored in a test if a particular harm is aimed at? This mini-project would aim to explore these and other questions by designing penetration test strategies based on a set of particular harms, and then seek to consider potential differences with current penetration practices by consultation with the professional community. Requirements: Students will need to have a working understanding of penetration testing techniques.