Nowadays, high-profile security breaches continue to dominate the media headlines. This trend places an increasing number of businesses at risk. They are growing in amount and complexity while malicious hackers are actively developing new and more sophisticated forms of attacks every single day.
Having anti-virus software and a firewall, as well as assuming that your business is secure, is no longer enough. Modern businesses require an advanced approach to security and due diligence. They need to test their resistance to cybersecurity threats and build highly effective defense mechanisms and remediation strategies.
To test whether and how a malicious user can gain unauthorized access to your assets, you’ll need a professional penetration testing service.
Still hesitating? Read on to discover five reasons why pentesting is essential for your organization’s health and security.
Uncover Hidden System Vulnerabilities Before the Criminals Do
The most surefire way to measure your security level is by studying how it can be hacked. A penetration test offers an ability to safely test your system’s resistance to external hacking attempts. It models the actions of a potential intruder by trying to exploit the vulnerabilities caused by code mistakes, software bugs, insecure settings, service configuration errors and/or operational weaknesses.
The major difference between a penetration test and a real hacking experience rests in its safe and controlled manner. It simulates a real attack scenario and exploits the vulnerabilities only to showcase the potential harm of a malicious hacking attempt. Moreover, the client company can pre-define the scope and timing of a penetration test and is informed beforehand about any active exploitation of vulnerabilities in its IT infrastructure.
Organizations usually conduct penetration tests right after the deployment of new infrastructure and applications or after the introduction of major changes to their infrastructure (e.g. changes in firewall rules, firmware updates, patches and software upgrades). This service can help them identify and validate potential security loopholes in their IT systems before cybercriminals can make use of them and successfully bring new products to the market.
Save Remediation Costs and Reduces Network Downtime
The process of recovering from a security breach can cost your business thousands or even millions of dollars including expenditures on customer protection programs, regulatory fines and loss of business operability. A recent study found that the average cost of a data breach globally in 2018 is $3.86 million, which is 6.4% more compared to the last year’s result. Therefore, getting everything back on track and running will require substantial investments, advanced security measures and weeks to recover.
A penetration test is a proactive solution for identifying the biggest areas of weakness in your IT systems and for preventing your business from serious financial and reputational losses. However, to ensure your business continuity, you need to conduct regular penetration tests at least once or twice a year.
Professional security analysts can advise you on the minimum frequency of penetration tests required for your specific business domain and IT infrastructure. Additionally, they can advise on the necessary procedures and investments aimed at building a more secure environment within your organization.
Develop Efficient Security Measures
The summarized results of a penetration test are essential for assessing the current security level of your IT systems. They can provide your company’s top management with insightful information about identified security gaps, their actuality and their potential impact on the system’s functioning and performance. An experienced penetration tester will also present you with a list of recommendations for their timely remediation as well as help you develop a reliable information security system and prioritize your future cybersecurity investments.
However, before ordering a pentest, make sure the company uses world-leading methodologies, such as ISECOM OSSTMM3, NIST SP800-115, PTES and OWASP, and that its specialists are certified and competent. Even though a penetration test may involve the use of automated tools, the focus is still on the manual skills, professional knowledge and experience of penetration testers.
Enable Compliance with Security Regulations
Undoubtedly, penetration testing plays a crucial role in terms of protecting your business and its valuable assets from potential intruders. However, the benefits of a pentest extend far beyond network and data security.
Regular pentests can help you comply with security regulations dictated by the leading security standards, such as PCI, HIPAA and ISO 27001, and avoid the heavy fines associated with non-compliance. These standards require company managers and system owners to conduct regular penetration tests and security audits with the help of professional security analysts.
For instance, the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security) standard requires organizations that handle large volumes of transactions to conduct both annual and regular penetration testing (after any system changes). What’s more, the detailed reports generated from penetration tests can help organizations enhance their security controls and illustrate ongoing due diligence to assessors.
Preserve Company’s Image and Customer Loyalty
Security attacks may compromise your sensitive data, which leads to the loss of trusted customers and serious reputational damages. Penetration testing can help you avoid costly security breaches that put your organization’s reputation and customers’ loyalty at stake. Moreover, a pen test may grow in time and complexity if the system requires additional scope. It may be also conducted in combination with vulnerability scanning to provide even more meaningful insights on vulnerabilities and potential breach points in your IT infrastructure.
Overall, only penetration testing can make a realistic assessment of your company’s “health” and its resistance to cyber attacks. A pen test can showcase how successful or unsuccessful a malicious attack on your company’s IT infrastructure can be. Moreover, it can help you prioritize your security investments, comply with industry regulations and develop efficient defensive mechanisms so that your business will be protected from intruders in the long run.
About the Author: Igor Tkach is the CTO at Daxx. He is an experienced business-driven executive, who writes about agile development best practices, product management, development team structure optimization, increasing leadership capacity in organizations, and more. Igor helps tech companies from all over the world create and run value-driven R&D centers, build robust and scalable business processes, and improve their performance.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.