How to Conduct a Physical Penetration Test + Tips

Hello everyone! Please note that this is certainly not a complete outline, nor a how-to guide. This is just a basic overview of how to conduct a physical pen-test. I hope that some of you find this helpful, enjoy!

Step 1: Scope and Pre-Engagement

Before starting a physical penetration test, it’s essential to define the scope of the test and obtain permission from the facility owner. This should include an agreement on the areas to be tested, the scope of the testing, and the rules of engagement. Once the scope is defined, the physical penetration tester will perform an initial reconnaissance to identify potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the security measures. This can involve reviewing blueprints and maps, analyzing the layout of the facility, and observing employee behavior and routines.

Step 2: Information Gathering

The next step is to gather information about the target facility’s physical security controls. This can include reviewing security policies and procedures, analyzing access control systems, and identifying potential access points. During this phase, the tester may use tools such as binoculars, cameras, and audio recording devices to collect information about the facility’s security measures.

Step 3: Social Engineering

Social engineering is a critical component of physical penetration testing, and it involves using psychological manipulation to gain access to restricted areas. The tester may use various techniques such as impersonation, pretexting, and tailgating to gain access to restricted areas. Social engineering can be one of the most effective ways to gain access to sensitive areas, as it relies on human weaknesses rather than technical vulnerabilities.

Step 4: Physical Intrusion

Once the tester has identified potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses, the next step is to attempt physical intrusion. This can include picking locks, bypassing security cameras, or using brute force to open doors or windows. The tester may use specialized tools such as lock picks, bump keys, and shim tools to bypass physical security controls. The goal of this phase is to gain access to sensitive areas, such as data centers or executive offices, without being detected.

Step 5: Post-Exploitation

After successfully penetrating the target facility, the tester will document their findings and attempt to escalate their access to gain further privileges. This may involve using privilege escalation techniques to gain administrative access to servers, accessing confidential data, or attempting to pivot to other systems within the facility. The tester will document their findings and provide recommendations for improving physical security controls.

Step 6: Reporting and Remediation

The final step is to prepare a report detailing the findings of the physical penetration test and providing recommendations for improving physical security controls. The report should include a summary of the vulnerabilities discovered, the steps taken to exploit them, and recommendations for mitigating the vulnerabilities. The report should also include any photos, videos, or other documentation collected during the test. Once the report is submitted, the facility owner should take steps to remediate the vulnerabilities identified during the test.

Tips for conducting a physical penetration test:

  1. Use a variety of tools and techniques to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

  2. Follow safety protocols and use appropriate safety equipment.

  3. Use non-destructive methods to bypass security controls whenever possible.

  4. Be discreet and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

  5. Document everything, including vulnerabilities discovered, techniques used, and recommendations for improving security controls.

  6. Follow up and retest periodically to ensure that recommended security improvements have been implemented and to identify any new vulnerabilities that may have emerged.

I hope that this short tutorial was helpful to you. Have a great day!


Thanks, I found this very helpful!