The Ultimate Internal Penetration Testing Checklist: A Comprehensive Guide

John Price
Chief Executive Officer
January 6, 2023
8 minutes

Internal penetration testing is a vital security measure that organizations should undertake regularly to identify vulnerabilities and protect against potential breaches. In this blog post, we'll provide a comprehensive internal penetration testing checklist to help organizations conduct a thorough assessment of their internal security posture.

First, it's important to understand the scope of internal penetration testing. This type of testing focuses on identifying vulnerabilities within an organization's internal network and systems, as opposed to external threats. The goal is to simulate an attack that originates from inside the organization, such as from a rogue employee or a compromised device.

Before conducting internal penetration testing, it's important to establish clear objectives and a scope for the testing. This should include identifying the systems and networks that will be tested, as well as any specific vulnerabilities or threats that the organization wants to focus on.

Once the scope and objectives have been established, the internal penetration testing checklist can begin. The following is a comprehensive list of steps to take when conducting internal penetration testing:


This initial phase involves gathering information about the target systems and networks, such as IP addresses, open ports, and system vulnerabilities. Tools such as Nmap and Nessus can be used to gather this information.

Vulnerability scanning

After reconnaissance, use vulnerability scanning tools such as Nessus or OpenVAS to identify known vulnerabilities on the target systems.


Attempt to exploit any identified vulnerabilities to gain access to the target systems. Metasploit and Core Impact are popular tools for this step.

Privilege escalation

Once access has been gained to a system, try to elevate privileges to gain access to sensitive information or additional systems.

Lateral movement

Attempt to move laterally across the internal network to gain access to other systems and sensitive information. This step can be accomplished using tools such as Mimikatz or Bloodhound.

Data exfiltration

Once access to sensitive information has been obtained, attempt to exfiltrate the data to a remote location.


After the internal penetration testing is complete, document the findings and any identified vulnerabilities. It is important to also to test how well security controls are working and how they were by passed.


Finally, work with your IT department to implement remediation measures to address any identified vulnerabilities and to help prevent similar attacks in the future.

It is important to note that internal penetration testing should be conducted by experienced security professionals, and with prior authorization from the organization. Additionally, it's a good idea to conduct internal penetration testing on a regular basis to ensure that security vulnerabilities are identified and addressed in a timely manner.

By following the internal penetration testing checklist outlined in this blog post, organizations can gain a better understanding of their internal security posture and take steps to protect against potential breaches. Remember that regular internal penetration testing is an important part of maintaining a secure organization. Make sure to establish clear objectives, scope of the testing, and don't hesitate to involve external experts if needed.

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