What Is Penetration Testing?
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
The purpose of penetration testing is to assess an organization's security posture. Penetration testing encompasses all networks, applications, devices, IT infrastructure, and physical security. The goal is to emulate malicious actions. Cybersecurity experts use penetration testing to enhance a company's cybersecurity posture to identify risks to the business.
Why is a Penetration Test Necessary?
Companies can perform penetration tests to evaluate the security of their IT infrastructure. Despite having robust security protocols in one area, a company may have vulnerabilities in another. No company should wait until a real-world scenario before getting an offensive against cyber-attacks due to the high cost of an effective cyber attack. Penetration testing tools are used to reveal holes in an organization's existing security controls and configuration.
Assess Security Measures: Analyze your application, network, and physical security layers and gain insights.
Search Actual Flaws: The most vulnerable endpoints in your computer systems should be exposed.
Guarantee Law Compliance: For penetration testing, companies can implement industry standards and country laws to maintain compliance with information security.
Strengthen Security Position: Businesses can prioritize and address their vulnerability with penetration testing.
How is the Penetration Testing Beneficial?
Security flaws can leave an organization vulnerable to hackers, even if the best IT department has the objectivity to find them. The most effective way to conduct black-box, white-box, and other security assessments is through penetration testing from the outside. An intrusion test conducted by someone outside the business can be beneficial in several ways:
Scan networks and applications for hard-to-find risks
Assess the effectiveness of network defenses when attacked
Test the security of your network under different types of cyberattacks.
Implement and validate updated security controls to thwart future attacks.
Determine the extent of the need for more significant security technology investment.
Assessment and quantification of potential business and operational impacts
Stages of Penetration Testing
Penetration testers communicate with stakeholders about each test's expectations. Then, security experts observe the target to gather information for scoping and executing each test correctly. Information can be collected either through active or passive methods (the tester contacts the target directly or without being noticed by the target).
As part of this phase, the security team maps out potential threats that may harm a business. In the information-gathering stage, they collect insights that are used to inform the actions to be taken during various penetration tests and establish risk rankings for multiple vulnerabilities. In addition, they identify and categorize various assets for testing.
A decision is made about which assets to eliminate based on the information gathered in previous stages. Next, they can confirm which ones present the most significant risk by testing, researching, and validating components, systems, devices, networks, and other items.
The security team builds on the foundation laid during earlier stages to begin penetration testing. To abuse, exploit, and abuse systems deemed to be vulnerable, they do everything in their power. Pen testers investigate all the networks, devices, physical controls, and human interactions of a company while documenting potential vulnerabilities.
When pen testers perform post-exploitation testing, they analyze the extent of the damage that a hacker could potentially inflict by exploiting a vulnerability. For example, a hacker's ability to take control of a company's systems is examined, as well as the value of any compromised sensitive data. It also looks at how an organization can recover from a breach caused by malicious actors.
Security companies generate reports on how the penetration testing process is conducted. There are some attempts to compromise companies' security and openings for potential exploitation. Each security weakness is mitigated by recommending ways for clients to reduce risks.
What's the best frequency for pen tests?
Penetration testing should be performed regularly to align with best practices. Pen-testers will uncover emerging vulnerabilities and new threats that attackers could exploit. Tests should also be conducted whenever required by regulatory mandates, as well as routinely scheduled analyses and assessments:
New applications or infrastructure are added
Security patches are installed
Applications or infrastructure are upgraded
Changes are made to end-user policies
Opening of new offices
Your business may be susceptible to the above risks, and penetration testing can help to mitigate them. However, it is essential to follow good security practices to ensure your organization's security. You will address prioritized threats and continuously evaluate the risk exposure to your business by using a risk-based approach to cybersecurity.
We can help!
Are you looking for ongoing advisory services to assist in identifying vulnerabilities and security policies that should be in place and help improve your security posture? The team at Inception Security™ has been leveraged to enhance the security posture of fortune 100 companies, small and medium-sized businesses. Our team has a depth of knowledge in the cybersecurity industry and will be able to provide value to your business right away.
Contact Inception Security if your company is looking for advisory services.