Protecting your organisation’s IT network infrastructure is an ongoing process. To ensure the best chance of remaining secure, a network’s defences must be continuously monitored and tested. That is where penetration testing comes in.
What Is Penetration Testing?
A penetration test, often known as a pen test or ethical hacking, simulates a cyber assault on your computer system in order to check for exploitable vulnerabilities. A cyber security professional will attempt to hack your network by any means necessary.
When done correctly, penetration testing goes beyond simply preventing criminals from gaining unauthorised access to a company’s systems. It produces realistic scenarios that demonstrate how well a company’s present defences would perform in the face of a full-scale cyber-attack.
What Are the Benefits of Penetration Testing?
Penetration tests are often performed by organizations tasked with safeguarding the personal information of private citizens. Even the best IT department may lack the objectivity required to identify security issues that could expose a company to hackers, therefore it’s better to have a penetration tester do black-box, white-box, and other security assessments from the outside.
Identify vulnerabilities before criminals do
Penetration testing gives your organisation to identify the gaps and vulnerabilities in your defences before a criminal has the chance to exploit them. According to the NCSC, many vulnerabilities that hackers are exploiting are coming from old flaws in common pieces of software (such as MS Office) that companies still haven’t addressed.
Proactively fix cyber security vulnerabilities
Once you have identified your vulnerabilities via a pen test, you can be proactive about fixing them and protecting your business – rather than having to retrospectively put precautions in place after an incident.
Mitigate risks to your business
By regularly testing your defences and implementing the proper precautions, you mitigate the risk of a successful cyber attack against your business – protecting your data, your customer’s data and your reputation.
Validate your security measures
Cyber security measures can be a significant investment of time and money – penetration can be a valuable way of justifying this investment to stakeholders. By demonstrating the vulnerabilities that need to be invested in and/or the potential attack routes that have been protected by your current investments, your stakeholders will be more likely to see the value of cyber security.
Maintain high performance during security auditing
Security audits are necessary for organisations working within certain sectors or at a certain standard. Regular penetration testing allows you to maintain a high level of cyber security and perform well during security assessments.
How is Penetration Testing Done?
There are several stages involved in penetration testing, often classified into 5 key phases.
During the reconnaissance stage of the penetration testing process, we will gather as much information as we can about your business and systems to form a solid understanding of your current defences and security measures.
The reconnaissance stage also involves:
- Deciding what tests to run.
- Identifying who will oversee test monitoring.
- Defining the information available to testers when they begin each test.
In the analysis stage, we will use the data gathered previously to identify any potential vulnerabilities and prioritise these for our cyber-attack. Through investigation, testing, and validation, the team confirms the systems, devices, networks, systems, and other components that pose the most risk.
3. Gaining Access
Next, we’ll attempt to hack your systems by a variety of means to determine how easy it would be for a criminal to attack your business.
4. Maintaining Access
Once we have gained access, we’ll assess how easily we can maintain access to your systems.
5. Covering Tracks
The final stage in the penetration test is to review how well your systems are able to identify and track a breach in the event it happens.
What Should You Do After a Penetration Testing?
Take use of the opportunity provided by penetration testing to go over ideas for improving your overall security posture. These tests provide organisations with the opportunity to discuss the findings with all stakeholders and determine what needs to be done to improve company security.
Penetration testers’ findings should be turned into actionable insights for businesses. That information can be used by company decision-makers to encourage any necessary modifications to present security processes. They can also make any necessary technological improvements to address the dangers discovered during penetration testing.
Penetration testing isn’t something that should be done only once. It should be part of a continuous vigilance strategy that uses many sorts of security testing to keep companies safe. Updates to security fixes or new components utilised in a company’s website could reveal new vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. As a result, businesses should conduct regular penetration testing to identify new security flaws and prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Following penetration testing services, it’s vital to arm your firm with sensible, proactive security solutions.
It is recommended that organisations undergo a thorough penetration test at least once every 3-6 months – or sooner if the IT infrastructure is changed. The best way to stay on top of penetration testing is to get in touch with a cyber security expert like Byte Security.
Ready to protect your organisation’s IT infrastructure with penetration testing?