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STEM Methodology Process

Our Unique Security Testing Process

A horizontal version of the STEM methodology process of White Oak Security. It shows the 3 phrases/loops of security testing and the process from start to finish, for more details see the in-depth STEM page.
Horizontal Version of the White Oak Security STEM Methodology

STEM Methodology

White Oak Security’s unique, custom-crafted Systematic Threat Evaluation Methodology (S.T.E.M.) was built by our founder and CEO, Christopher Emerson. S.T.E.M. originated as an extension of strong industry-standard testing processes that, while effective, can be too narrowly focused and not incorporate other, contextually relevant factors in determining vulnerability priority. 

S.T.E.M. allows us to dig deeper and better understand how other security efforts, investments, and initiatives may impact the security of a particular application or network environment. This understanding allows our team to provide our clients with results that more effectively prioritize remediation efforts and more accurately reflect the actual security situation.

Security Testing Approaches

Why don’t other security professionals use this approach?

Penetration testing traditionally requires whitelisting (or being added to an ALLOW LIST) for testing to be efficient and effective – giving the tester direct access and bypassing firewalls and other security-related investments in order to provide an accurate understanding of any security issues inherent to the testing target.  

Clients sometimes feel that this “allow list” approach is unrealistic considering the investments that they’ve made in security tools and solutions that may protect the testing target. The argument we hear is often ‘this isn’t a realistic test.’

Both of these viewpoints are actually correct… Testers need to have direct access to a target in order to effectively test its security without spending far too long (i.e. being super expensive) bypassing ‘external’ security protections. However, those protections certainly do have an impact on overall security… Thus, the S.T.E.M. approach was built to address both of these concerns in the most efficient manner.  

S.T.E.M. is not an approach that is always practical or applicable on every penetration test, but where it is, it provides the best of both worlds – an understanding of both the security vulnerabilities and issues with the testing target as well as the impact of a client’s broader security investments on those vulnerabilities.

The terrifying thing is how often those broader security investments have almost no impact on mitigating the vulnerabilities that White Oak Security discovers on the target itself, but that’s a post for a later time… 

More From White Oak Security

Check out our in-depth STEM Methodology page to learn more about the 3 phases of S.T.E.M Methodology.