With the digitization of processes and business operations, we tend to ignore the latest technology risks that we are exposed to now or will be in the future. One of the major risks we face today is hackers utilizing a vulnerability that lives within our IT infrastructure. Once they gain a strong foothold into your IT network, it becomes likely that these hackers could take over your infrastructure. To alleviate the risk of a security breach, we must be able to detect, avert, respond and recuperate from such security attacks. Hence, we can put a stop to such attacks by ensuring we rectify all known vulnerabilities and perform regular security tests to recognize any unknown vulnerabilities.
Nevertheless, we can never be assured that our network and systems are secure forever. We will require proper procedures on how to unearth, acknowledge and recover from security incidents. In this blog, we will be talking about why we must perform security assessments such as Pen Testing/ Penetration Testing on our network infrastructure to help prevent such incidents from taking place in the future.
What is Penetration Testing?
Pen Testing, also popularly known as white-hat hacking or ethical hacking, is a method of gauging the security risks that analyzes network, computer devices or software to discover security vulnerabilities that a hacker could take advantage of. The reach of Pen Testing can vary depending on your requirements. It could range from a full-scale pen test on a company to simple web application pen testing.
Difference between a real hacking scenario and Pen Testing
The main difference between a pen test and a real hacking scenario lies in its guarded and controlled method. Pen testing triggers an actual attack situation and uses the vulnerabilities to display the prospective harm of a hacking trial. It depends on the client company to decide the scope and when to perform the penetration test and planning ahead of time for any active vulnerabilities in its infrastructure.
Generally, organizations conduct pen testing soon after the deployment of new applications and infrastructure or maybe after the establishment of vital changes to their IT infrastructure such as changes in firmware updates, firewall rules, software upgrades, and patches among others. Penetration testing can assist them in identifying potential security flaws within their IT infrastructure before malicious hackers can exploit the flaws.
Why Penetration Testing is imperative
For a healthy and secure environment of your organization, it is essential to have professionals who can protect your security systems against data breaches and attacks.
Every IT organization needs pen testing to assess their current status of existing security systems and measures. Penetration testing is one convenient and perhaps the best bet to comprehend how exposed your business is, how it can be taken advantage of. During the pen testing process, pen testers predict and mirror the behavior of hackers before they can find any flaws within your organization’s network. These professionals look for vulnerabilities and breaches generated due to unprotected codes from software or applications, configuration settings, unsuitable security settings, and any other shortcomings.
Unlike hackers, pen testers work in a controlled environment exploring the future harm that breaches can cause. This way your organization can conduct a risk assessment of your business. Penetration testing discovers the risk your company is exposed to and its consequences.
Build structured security measures
Upon completion of pen testing, your organization will have a summarized report important for measuring the current security level of your IT infrastructure. The pen testing results can furnish your organization with crucial information about your security flaws and their probable impact on the performance of the system. A pen testing expert will also help you with recommendations for your security system and help your company develop an authentic IT security system.
However, before proceeding with pen testing, ensure the company your organization hires utilizes the latest technologies and that the pen testers are competent and certified.
Enable Compliance with Regulations
One cannot ignore the importance of penetration testing in an IT organization. Be it safeguarding your business and its assets from future threats. Yet, the importance of penetration testing goes beyond data security. Systematic pen testing can enable compliance with security standards like HIPAA, ISO 27001 and PCI, hence preventing heavy financial penalty that comes with non-compliance with these regulations. These leading security standards demand system owners and organization managers to perform timely pen tests and audits with help from professionals.
Protect your Reputation
Cybersecurity attacks could lead to compromising your sensitive data, leading to loss of faith, genuine customers and serious reputation damage. Your company’s reputation will be at risk when data breach takes place and it is announced publicly. This may cause a drop in revenue and ultimately profit. Pen Testing can lend a helping hand to avoid catastrophic breaches that put your company’s reputation at stake. Penetration testing can also be conducted with vulnerability scanning to offer insightful information on future breaches and vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure.
In general, only pen testing can project a realistic assessment of your organization’s health and its hostility to data breaches or cyber-attacks.
Is Pen Testing worth it?
Now that we are well-informed on what pen testing is and how it can help us prevent any major cyberattacks, the question remains- Is it worth it? The answer to this lies within your organization, its requirements and how badly it needs a security assessment to prevent any disastrous hack. In the world of cyber security, experts continually implore us to be vigilant in the fight against hackers and caution us that the threat is growing at an alarming rate. As the stories of organizations that get hacked continue to make headlines – even detailing the many negative impacts on their operations, finances and reputation, we still think it will never happen to us.
There are several factors involved when it comes to the worth of pen tests. Cost is one of them. It depends on the size of your organization and the complexity of your IT systems. If your organization requires running pen testing, you will need to consider the budget for this process. Other factors to consider- objective and scope of the penetration test. Before hiring pen testing professionals, you must consider what are you pen testing, is it a social media app or a small website? Or the reason your company is running pen tests is to discover any security flaws in your employee’s systems and if they are taking precautions to stay safe online and prevent phishing attacks.
All these factors, when taken under consideration, can affect the cost of penetration testing. The cost and time of pen tests are interconnected to the number of IP addresses, applications, networks and more.
By discovering your organization’s security flaws and potential threats and giving you information on how to get past them, penetration testing can help you secure your current security level and protect your data from breaches and threats.
The real weak link in your organization’s cybersecurity posture- your employees, is discussed in our article on preparing your staff for constant attacks and resulting technology breach due to access granted via Social Engineering – the never-ending Threat to your Organization .
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