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In penetration testing, exploitation is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It’s what most penetration testers see as the ultimate prize. Exploitation is where you do the “penetration” part of penetration testing. This assumes that you are able to find a vulnerability to exploit, of course. And just because you found a vulnerability is no guarantee that you will be able to make use of it to exploit the system. And, what does exploiting a vulnerability look like, anyway? You may imagine what the result of an exploit looks like. It is commonly portrayed in fiction as giving you some form of interface to the computer, most commonly a remote desktop just like the normal user of the computer would see. In a modern world of graphical user interfaces, though, desktop access does not necessarily mean that you will get to see an entire graphical desktop. If you do happen to get interactive access, it’s more likely that you will be getting some form of command line access that lets you move around the computer file system and run program utilities. This means that you will need to know how to interact with the system once you get in. If you are used to primarily using a mouse and Windows to control whatever system you are working on, it’s time to bone up on some command line skills.
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