How does Penetration Testing help your Organization?
Why you should get a penetration test for your companyMay 10, 2021 | BY Veera Sandiparthi
Ensuring your business’s information is secure is a key goal of any organization because information security differs greatly between successful and unsuccessful companies.
Even the largest organizations are not immune to severe consequences when they experience a data breach. After suffering from a major data breach in 2017, Equifax has had to pay $380 million into a fund as part of the settlement and keep an additional $125 million on standby should that fund run out. In addition to your credit monitoring expense, the company has agreed to spend at least $1 billion improving its cybersecurity measures and an estimated $2 billion providing years of free services to those who are class members. So far, 3 million claimants have submitted claims for credit monitoring with an estimated retail value of $6 billion.
Organizations are especially vulnerable when their public-facing interfaces and systems, such as web applications, are targeted. Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report noted that 43% of breaches involved web applications. NTT’s 2020 Global Threat Intelligence Report states that 55% of all attacks in 2019 were a combination of web application and application-specific attacks (a 23% rise on the previous year).
Cyber-attacks are a cheap and easy way to hack into companies, making this category of attack “a significant advantage” for attackers. For small businesses, it can be hard to keep up with the latest cyber-defense strategies – there is no such thing as anonymity in this space.
With so many cheap, large-scale cyberattacks taking place due to attackers’ cunningness and technical know-how, it is fortunate that cybersecurity specialists have developed affordable solutions to thwart these attacks. Alongside policies and documented procedures, you can adopt tools, technologies, or methodologies to minimize the risk of cyber-attacks.
Pen testing entails evaluating your network security and helping you to find the best ways of protecting your networks. Penetration Testing is a controlled form of hacking to find the weaknesses criminals exploit.
IT security analysts can use their experience to perform penetration testing and ensure that no damage is caused. These tests can also be performed when networks or applications are not regularly used, minimizing everyday operations. The IT security analyst provides a report detailing any identified vulnerability (and possible proof of concept) with relevant advice about mitigating it.
The premise is to find ways into your network that criminals or unauthorized users might try. From there, the tester will explore and document any holes in security to demonstrate where common cyber-attacks could occur.
Penetration testing can be carried out through two channels: the network and web applications. Penetration testing tests different avenues attackers might take to gain access to your network and systems. An external test identifies opportunities for outside attacks, such as those from the internet. Conversely, an internal test looks at ways information can be extracted or leaked on purpose or by accident.
In addition to the traditional tasks of identifying vulnerabilities and exploitation techniques, penetration tests also evaluate people’s susceptibility to social engineering, identify mitigations in place within an organization for information security and other physical aspects such as access controls. Businesses in today’s world are faced with a multitude of potential threats which might exploit hundreds of different vulnerabilities. The 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report noted that application exploits were the second-largest contributor to data breaches in 2019.
These vulnerabilities are open to potentially devastating attacks like SQL injection, granting attackers access to whole databases. Attacks can be less obvious and more harmful than error pages that provide enough information for the attacker.
A penetration tester might identify a dangerous combination of vulnerable by looking at each individually, but criminals can easily find these combinations with automated tools.
Unpatched software often contains publicly documented flaws that criminals can exploit. For example, these flaws might let the criminal insert malicious commands into a program’s code or determine how connections to potentially vulnerable systems are handled. The popularity of these operating systems and software programs allows them to become large targets for cyberattacks.
Many automated scripts allow hackers to search the web for possible vulnerabilities in various computer systems - for example, WannaCry and BlueKeep are high-profile examples from last year where
When developers release a patch for software, it can mean that the program has been attacked or flawed somehow. Unsupported programs are often vulnerable to significant issues because security patches may not come with them. When Windows XP became obsolete, it left millions of computers around the world vulnerable.
One of the reasons penetration testing isn’t common practice for most organizations is that it usually is addressed in their data security plan. Most major companies worldwide have a specific section on penetration testing, and even smaller businesses understand its importance. Unfortunately, some organizations that lack a firm grasp of information security see it as something costly that brings bad news. A positive penetration test likely leaves senior managers in a good mood, and it also shows the company how to spend more money on its security. A negative result of the same type can leave senior managers feeling targeted and concerned about future attacks.
This is an overly simplistic perspective. The 2020 Trustwave report cited earlier found that 38% of breached North American organizations did not detect the breach themselves. It typically took 86 days for these externally discovered breaches to be detected. These findings show that these firms likely were already compromised before realizing a problem, so they are unlikely to take any steps.
A penetration test can help reveal redundancies in an organization’s services and processes, resulting in increased revenues. Several regulatory standards and compliance schemes also require penetration testing, so having an established testing program streamlines compliance and makes the whole process part of business as usual. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), for example, requires regular penetration tests to prove – and improve – the security of cardholder data. Having a penetration testing program – with demonstrable proof that your organization has responded to the results appropriately – is a powerful indicator that you take information security seriously. For organizations with contractual requirements to prove their information security credentials, a penetration testing program is an excellent resource. Contractual requirements such as this are increasingly common because no organization wants to be responsible for a partner’s or supplier’s failure. Your organization is responsible even if the customer’s information was stolen while under the care of another organization because they gave their information to you. Equally, many schemes require the organization to ensure that its partners and suppliers meet the same standards. Lastly, organizations that actively respond to results from penetration testing are likely to see improvements in secure system engineering and secure coding practices.
Pen testing lets your organization see its weaknesses before criminals can. Keeping up with the large scale and effectiveness of cybercrime, it is critical to make sure that your network and website are secure. Running penetration tests proves your willingness to address opportunities for risk and is an important part of information security.
Mr. Veera Sandiparthi is a seasonal entrepreneur brings 18 years of experience with technology solutions and delivering secure integrated enterprise solutions across a variety of industries including financial, healthcare, technology, and federal. Mr. Veera serves as the President and CEO of AccessQuint LLC. Over the past 2 years became an expert in developing strategic Cybersecurity solutions for both global and domestic clients, by strategically leveraging AccessQuint LLC expert security resources and best practices, along with his own extensive knowledge of industry challenges and organizational needs, he helps his clients maintain the highest levels of quality, while increasing efficiency and streamlining the cost.
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