What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing (which is also sometimes called pen testing or ethical hacking) refers to the security process of evaluating your computer system’s applications for vulnerabilities and susceptibility to threats like hackers and cyberattacks. Examples of vulnerabilities include software bugs, design flaws, and also configuration errors.
Pen tests are also occasionally known as white hat attacks because it involves a benevolent party’s attempt to break into a system. In short, it is basically a simulation of a possible cyber-attack against an IT system performed by a professional with no malicious intent.
The main purpose of a pen test is to find exploitable vulnerabilities before anybody else does so that they can be patched and addressed accordingly.
Why is Penetration Testing important?
#1: To prepare for an attack
The main reason penetration tests are crucial to an organization’s security is that they help personnel learn how to handle any type of break-in from a malicious entity. Pen tests serve as a way to examine whether an organization’s security policies are genuinely effective. They serve as a type of fire drill for organizations.
Penetration tests can also provide solutions that will help organizations to not only prevent and detect attackers but also to expel such an intruder from their system in an efficient way.
#2: To protect your business from cyberattacks and keep management informed
According to a study conducted, 88% of organizations worldwide experienced spear-phishing attempts in 2019. This report proves that data breaches exposed 36 Billion records in the first half of 2020.
With countless new ways for attackers to target and breach organizations being discovered each day, even large companies with well-established cybersecurity teams and hygiene practices are growing wary of the risks. Penetration Tests identify vulnerabilities that hackers are most likely to exploit and their potential impact.
Even if your IT team understands these vulnerabilities, they may lack the experience or knowledge to communicate them effectively to upper-level management–or management may fail to take that information into account. Because of this, they might not allocate the necessary resources to implement corrective measures or to make the changes to secure your vulnerable systems and applications.
A Pen Test on the other hand has you working with professionals whose job is to understand cybersecurity risks and their impact on your business. At the end of the test, management receives a detailed report documenting each vulnerability and the consequences the organization will face if they are exploited.
It also provides an executive summary, explaining the risks and vulnerabilities in a clear and concise language adapted to non-technical stakeholders. As a result, management will be better equipped to understand and put into practice effective cybersecurity measures.
#3: To identify risks and fix vulnerabilities
Pen tests also offer insight into which channels in your organization or application are most at risk and thus what types of new security tools you should invest in or protocols you should follow. This process could help uncover several major system weaknesses you may not have even thought about.
This is because, while developing and implementing an organization-wide system or network, it is common for bugs and vulnerabilities to appear. These bugs can be exploited by hackers who stay on the cutting edge of technology and rely on their experience in exploiting known vulnerabilities found in these systems.
Penetration testing will allow you to uncover these vulnerabilities. The test conducted would mean identifying vulnerable systems that could potentially allow a full takeover of your network, or bypassing security mechanisms to access administrative features in your application.
#4: To save remediation cost and reduce network downtime
Recovering from a security breach can be a time-consuming and costly process as it constantly costs you money while your business might not even be functional. According to a study conducted by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 is $3.86 million and the average time to identify a breach is 207 days.
On the other hand, a Penetration Test is proactive by nature and identifies high risk exploitable vulnerabilities in your system. To ensure business continuity, it is recommended that organizations conduct regular Penetration Tests at least once or twice a year.
#5: To develop efficient security measures
A Penetration Test arms your organization with insightful information about identified security gaps and their current and potential impact on the functionality and performance of the system. An experienced Penetration Tester will present you with a list of recommendations letting you know the severity of the issue, by when it should be fixed and also help you develop a reliable information security system to objectively prioritize your future cybersecurity investments.
Be sure to choose an experienced and reliable organization for your Penetration Tests, because even though it may involve the use of automated tools, the focus is still on the manual skills, which means that the professional knowledge and experience of Penetration Testers is still the most valuable asset.
#6: To decrease the amounts of error made
Penetration testing reports can also assist developers in making fewer errors. When developers understand exactly how a malicious entity launched an attack on an application, operating system or other software they helped develop, they will become more dedicated to learning more about security and be less likely to make similar mistakes going forward.
It should also be noted that conducting penetration tests is especially important if your organization:
Has recently made significant upgrades or other changes to its IT infrastructure or applications
Has recently relocated to a new office
Has applied security patches; or
Has modified end-user policies
#7: To comply with various regulatory standards
Different industries have different regulatory standards that organizations are expected to comply with for legal and business purposes. For example, if you wish to process customer payments through a credit or debit card system, you must be PCI compliant, which requires a Penetration Test to be conducted annually.
If you are a SaaS provider, your clients or providers might require a Penetration Test of your SaaS application. This helps identify potential vulnerabilities and protects your customers and assets while also allowing you to remain compliant. Maintaining compliance means that you can continue conducting business and developing new partnerships to grow your business without accruing fines or running into trouble with the law.
#8: To help new business acquisitions and create a road map of improvements
Penetration Test Facilitates an efficient process of acquiring new businesses. Acquiring a new business means acquiring a new IT network which means adopting several potential vulnerabilities. Any bugs in the other business’ security just became bugs in your system.
In such a scenario it is advisable to conduct a Pen Test before the merging of systems and transfer of data takes place to identify and track what needs to be addressed. Some vulnerabilities you might be able to fix right away, while others might take time. With the information you gain from the Pen Test you can make an informed decision and build a roadmap with clear timelines for when the vulnerability will be fixed and which technicians will work on it. This allows the demanding process of merging two organizations to become a bit more seamless.
Did you know: eVantage Technology has been granted 2 new licenses from the CSRO!
We are pleased to announce that eVantage Technology has been granted two new licences from the Cybersecurity Services Regulation Office (CSRO):
Licence Name: Penetration Testing Service Licence
Licence Name: Managed Security Operations Centre Monitoring Service Licence
These two licences granted are part of a new framework launched on 11 April 2022 “to better safeguard consumer interests and to improve the information asymmetry between consumers and cyber security providers”.
It reflects eVantage's robust commitment to maintaining a world-class standard of excellence when it comes to protecting the online security of clients.