Security is one aspect you must care about and learn more about as a business owner. It is imperative to prevent hackers from accessing your network and essential documents, files, and data; otherwise, you risk costly mistakes and your business’ reputation.
You must ensure a stable cybersecurity plan and measures to minimize risk and attacks. One way to ensure your organization is set up for success is to perform penetration testing, commonly known as a pen test. Using security testing best practices, you can identify and address vulnerabilities in networks, web apps, and user security. Are you unsure if you should conduct penetration tests? In this case, learn more about the benefits of penetration testing and what it can do for your organization.
It is essentially the process of methodically hacking into your system and network to identify and expose as many vulnerabilities as possible, and it occurs from multiple vantage points. You, the client or business owner, would need to authorize and consent to the test with ethical hackers and security researchers.
The hackers will use both internal and external attacks on areas such as:
· Web applications
· Wireless networks
· Mobile devices
· Network devices
· Other available entry points (on-site or remote)
After the testers hack your critical assets, they’ll likely gather their findings, compile their results into reports you can review, and offer advice for remediation. While it’s a process that’s been around for some time (in the early 90s), many changes have occurred in how they are conducted. Some consider them unnecessary or wrong because of the deficiencies in how these programs are deployed; however, most would agree that an attack simulation does offer practical value and will help your organization improve security.
You may wonder if and when you should perform a penetration test at your company. There are some reasons why you should consider it that include:
· Noticing new IT security threats
· Transitioned to a fully remote work environment
· Created or updated new company intranet or software
· Set up a new end-user policy or program
· You’ve relocated or created a new internal data storage site
· Recent attack through adware or ransomware
The primary goal is to ensure you continue to protect your business and your assets. Using a pen test, you can effectively protect customer data, satisfy stakeholder requirements, reduce cyber risk, and preserve your organization’s image and reputation. Companies are no longer using penetration testing because of compliance but because it is a best practice.
You should know about and consider various types of penetration testing.
· Web app test: Can find potential security holes in your software and applications
· Network test: This will expose vulnerabilities within your host network, as well as all network devices
· A wireless security test: This will identify insecure holes and hotspots in your Wi-Fi network, which will protect against attacks like business email compromise
· Social engineering test: Use this one to identify if your employees follow the training and procedures you have in place to protect against phishing or other cyber threats
· Infrastructure test: Checks for vulnerabilities
· IoT pen tests: Works to protect user data globally
· PCI pen test: Assess the technical and operational components of your system; It ensures cardholder and payment data security systems meet the set PCI compliance standards
There are four specific ways to perform a pen test; internal testing, external testing, blind testing, and double-blind testing. Internal testing simulates the damage employees could cause to your systems, while external testing simulates outside attacks on your visible DNS, web servers, email servers, and firewalls. A blind test will simulate how attackers could retrieve company information and then attack it. Remember that your penetration testers won’t have any information about your company before simulating this attack. Finally, in double-blind testing, the process involves simulating an actual attack by giving the testers no info and no notice to employees that it’s being done either.
You will answer and address the following three questions when you decide to move forward with pen testing:
· Are you prepared, and how well prepared are you against potential attacks?
· Have you taken the time to identify all your potential vulnerabilities?
· Are you able to recover from an attack?
Once you have the information regarding your risk assessment from the pen testers, then you can begin to more deeply and accurately understand your company’s overall readiness to spot, avert, alleviate, and respond to cyber threats.
Overall, there are five primary benefits of penetration and security testing to understand before determining if it’s suitable for your company.
Even one breach of your company’s security system can be enormously costly to your business. A disruption in your daily work and compromising important data and files can be financially devastating. You may not only be hit with penalties and fines, but your reputation and customer loyalty could also take a significant hit. It’s best to be proactive to avoid extreme losses when building your brand and achieving financial stability. Hiring highly qualified experts to do these tests is wise, especially when you change your network infrastructure. Lowering your company’s risk of a security breach can ensure you are not wasting finances on recovering from a security event that could have been prevented.
Another benefit of penetration testing is an in-depth analysis of your IT infrastructure. You’ll learn more about your ability to defend and protect your networks, endpoints, and systems and how likely an attack could cause disruption to your assets and lose data. You’ll get several findings from a pen test that might spark your interest and cause you to want to move forward. For instance, revealing system vulnerabilities and methods for how they were able to access your systems and data. It will also test your response to real cyber threats and reveal how prepared you are for them. Finally, a penetration test will show your current IT spending problems and how you can best allocate your IT budget.
For instance, you may want to perform penetration testing to protect your company's image and reputation. While you may have had much success and built customer loyalty over the years, this trust can be damaged when you experience a security breach. Trust, confidence, and reputation may all dissipate if you cannot resolve the matter quickly, and it will ultimately cost you business and could take years to repair the damages.
Your clients are essential to your business, and you need them to continue running your company successfully. A security breach negatively impacts your business and your clients, partners, and other third parties you might be working with. When you schedule regular pen tests and ensure you’re adequately protected, you can build confidence and trust in your brand and business with customers and partners. You want your customers to feel comfortable working with you and not worry about their information being lost, stolen, or compromised. It’s a conversation and situation you want to avoid at all costs. Instead, it would help if you focused on protecting their data and ensuring they feel good about working with your organization and spending their money with you.
You may want to perform penetration testing to comply with regulations and security certifications. You may be able to avoid penalties for non-compliance by showing records of your recent pen tests. You can prove that you’re doing your due diligence by maintaining the required security controls and measures. The ISO27001 standards have a compliance section requiring system owners and managers to conduct regular penetration tests and security reviews at least every six months. Your industry might have its own set of security standards you must follow, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, FISMA, GDPR, FFIEC, and GLBA, to name a few. Your testing will ensure you can pinpoint the gaps preventing you from attaining compliance certification. You can be confident you comply and follow the rules and laws when you have competent pen testers with the right tools and knowledge to perform these tests.
At this point, you may see the logic and benefit of pen testing but aren’t sure where to start. You must prepare and plan for it and have a strategy to ensure you implement it correctly. A penetration test is a complex process that requires you to follow several steps. To begin, you’ll need to:
· Gather information about your organization and systems
· Scan your systems, network, and website for vulnerabilities
· Exploit these vulnerabilities to get access to your network and system
· Pivot from the malicious actor vantage point to seek new weaknesses to exploit
· Generate thorough data reports of your simulated security breaches
· Translate your data into action steps for better and enhanced security
You’ll need a team of skilled IT professionals with much experience with many systems and applications. They not only need skills when it comes to pen test methodologies but also in-depth experience with hacking.
Not all penetration tests are created equal or will follow the same formula. It may vary depending upon the test’s length, the tester’s skill, system changes during the test, and web applications and firewalls that are active or inactive as you perform the test. It’s your job and responsibility to ensure that when you’re interviewing potential penetration testing companies and professionals, you ensure they are experienced and knowledgeable. It’s best if they agree to perform several tests frequently and will work to identify all vulnerabilities in your system for you.
Once you decide to move forward with penetration testing, you should take the following steps to make it a reality. Begin by reviewing the different methods for penetration testing and then work to decide which is suitable for your organization. The four main ones to choose from are traditional penetration testing, crowdsourced security penetration testing, internal testing, and a mixed testing approach. You should know that according to Bugcrowd, “A recent survey found that crowdsourced penetration tests identify on average 7X more high-priority vulnerabilities than traditional penetration tests.” The option you choose depends on your goals, resources, timeline, and budget. Keep in mind that they all have their own set of pros, cons, and benefits, so there may not necessarily be a wrong answer, but there is likely a best-fit solution.
It’s also about hiring the proper penetration testing professional for the job. Once you start doing your homework, you might find some overrated and negligent, while others are thorough and helpful and know what they’re doing. You should look for some characteristics as you interview and search for a suitable tester, such as strong verbal and written communication skills, so they can show you how to recreate issues. Other good qualities are being highly involved with the IT security community and understanding hacking in great detail. In addition, they should be passionate about hacking, pay attention to detail, and be methodical in their approach.
The security of your business and protecting it from attacks and hackers should be a top priority at your company if you want to experience long-term success. You now know more about penetration testing and how it can help your organization. It’s a necessary step to take to ensure you’re not vulnerable to hackers and cyber-attacks. These are just some of the benefits of conducting regular penetration testing. You’re likely to experience several others once you commit to doing it frequently and can see why it’s a wise idea. The last situation you want is to be faced with a costly security breach that will ruin your reputation and put your hard work and business at risk.
You must take this matter seriously and devise a plan for implementing penetration testing in your organization. In today’s world, it’s no longer an option to leave your security measures and tactics up to chance. You must have a plan and policies to ensure no one can access your confidential and important files, data, and information. One of the best ways to protect your company and customers is to invest in penetration testing to fix issues and vulnerabilities before they occur. The testing will not only protect you and your company from harm and vulnerabilities but results and reports will identify what needs to be fixed and addressed so you can run a better and more secure business.