Back to basics: Pentest
Because threats are constantly evolving, and ransomware, phishing and DDoS attacks are used by cyber criminals with increased sophistication, companies need to step up their security defense.
Performed manually or automated with software application, penetration testing is now an essential part of IT security. By simulating the tactics of your enemies would do to break through your defense, it exposes weaknesses in core attack vectors. It is a good way to protect your company.
In the context of web application security, penetration testing is used to augment a web application firewall by the website development company or the MSSP.
Vigilance is important in IT security and pentesting allows companies to stay to top of vulnerabilities, minimize the attack surface and preserve brand reputation, by proactively seeking out security weakness before someone else.
Different pentests can be done depending on a company's need.
- Vulnerability scan or vulnerability test as a base level are executed with automated tools and scripts to find vulnerabilities.
- Targeted penetration test on networks or web applications
- Red team penetration test, covers all elements of the company and is much longer (it can take weeks).
Penetration testing: in practice
Our recent surveys at the RSA Conference in San Francisco and at Infosecurity Europe in London revealed that European and American IT professionals share different attitude towards security and penetration testing. While 75% of UK respondents said their company already run security testing to understand their cyber exposure, only 15% Americans do so.
It is worrisome that most companies do not incorporate penetration test into their security programs, when regular testing and attack surface reduction are the first step to prevent security incidents.
According to the same surveys, 56% of UK organizations have hired a penetration tester to assess the security of their network versus only 17% for their US counterparts.
Advantages of hiring professionals to penetrate your network are:
- They will not leave ransomware on your server.
- They will aid you in identifying vulnerabilities.
- They will not publish captured data.
- They can pause or stop if their actions could impact critical assets.
Ethical hackers? What do the good guys do
All professional penetration testers have a code of ethics.
Ethical hackers do:
- Scope and goal setting: Professional pentesters must document agreed scope and goal setting. The pentester asks scoping questions such as what computer assets to included, is automated vulnerability scanning and social engineering allowed, when will the pentest happen, will the pentest be blackbox or whitebox, will security teams be informed prior to the test and should professional attackers try to break in.
- Discovery: Every penetration tester starts asset hacking by studying the target. Ethical hackers will see vulnerability by spending few minutes looking at an asset. Pentesters would examine IP addresses, patch levels, users, OS platform, and advertised network and so on.
- Exploitation: With the information learned in the discovery phase. The pentester will exploit vulnerability uncovered and try to gain unauthorized access or denial of service.
Ethical hacking is also continuously evolving to compete with cybercriminals. Professional hacker in practice and tool to company needs and objectives.
Benefits of penetration testing
- Manage vulnerabilities
With penetration testing you can proactively find vulnerabilities that are critical to your organization. Knowing your security posture helps you prioritize remediation.
- Avoids the cost of network downtime
A security breach can cost millions related to customer protection, IT remediation efforts, legal activities, customer retention and much more.
- Meets regulatory requirement
Penetration testing addresses general auditing and compliance of regulations. With pentesting organizations avoid fines for non-compliance and it shows that organizations are maintaining security controls.
- Penetration testing preserves corporate image
Breach of customer data is costly; it affects sales and drags a company’s reputation through the mud. In recent times, customer retention cost is high. No one wants to lose customers. A breach will discourage potential customers.
- Penetration testing preserves customer loyalty.
Complacency is no longer an option for businesses. There is increased focus on detection rather than prevention. Intelligence gathered during pentests are used to address uncovered weaknesses. Test help organizations uncover critical vulnerabilities, prioritize and resolve risk, meet industry compliance standards and assess risk levels. Cybersecurity need proactivity, if you are interested, know more about our professional penetration services.