In recent years, all kinds of organizations have faced cyber threats and attacks – from small cupcake businesses and blog sites to banks, streaming platforms, and government agencies. Attacks have far-reaching implications – financially, reputationally, and legally.
As a result, proactive security is emerging as a top concern for everyone. And penetration testing is an important tool in every organization’s security strategy to achieve proactiveness, right from the software development stage.
In this article, we delve further into why penetration testing is necessary and how to ensure it fits into your security strategy.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration Testing (pen-testing) is the systematic process of evaluating the application/ network by exploiting its vulnerabilities/ flaws/ security weaknesses in a secure environment.
It is a simulated cyber-attack wherein trusted security experts probe for vulnerabilities and safely exploit them using techniques that an attacker may use. The overarching goal of pen-testing is to detect vulnerabilities in the system before the attackers can and taking necessary steps to remediate them.
While pen testing can be automated, it is best to have it done manually by experienced and trusted penetration testing service providers or certified security experts. Automated pen-tests are a great way to create a strong security baseline by ushering agility to the process. However, manual pen-tests are more in-depth and necessary to identify vulnerabilities that automation cannot.
To ensure proactiveness in security and to meet with the compliance frameworks, penetration testing needs to be done regularly. By regularly, we mean it should be done every 6 months/ 1 year.
Types of Penetration Testing
- White Box/ Internal Pen-testing is done from a malicious insider/ outsider from the credential’s point of view.
- Black Box/ External Pen-testing is done from an outsider perspective wherein the tester does not know the ins-and-outs of the application.
- Grey Box Pen-testing emulates a scenario where an outsider has partial information/ illegitimate access to infrastructure documents.
Why is Pen-testing Necessary?
Penetration testing takes your security strategy from being reactive and/or ineffective to being proactive and effective.
For instance, when you integrate pen-testing in your software development stages, you save massive amounts of time and money. How? You identify security misconfigurations and flaws when the app/ software is still in development, where it is easier to fix rather than making it live, being breached and then finding a fix for the vulnerabilities). You essentially reduce the need for multiple test-patch-retest cycles.
Here’s how pen-testing strengthens your security strategy.
- Detecting unknown vulnerabilities and business logic flaws that an automated scanning tool will not be able to find.
- Evaluating the exploitability and impact of vulnerabilities – known and unknown. Enabling organizations to understand what kind of damage can be caused if the vulnerability is left as-is.
- Enabling organizations to remediate vulnerabilities before attackers can find them, ensuring proactiveness in security.
- Evaluating the strength and effectiveness of security defenses, controls, and strategies in preventing attacks/ breaches/ threats.
- Gauging the risks facing the organization given the emerging threats and the growing attack surface.
- Regular pen-testing is mandated by compliance standards such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, GDPR, and so on. Non-compliance attracts massive fines and penalties.
- The findings of pen-tests enable organizations to not just tune their security posture but can be used as a basis for security training for employees and users.
How to Ensure Pen-testing Fits into Your Security Strategy?
Make it One Part of Security Transformation
It is crucial to understand that pen-testing isn’t the be-all and end-all of security. It is one part of security. It is a tool and not a strategy. It is useful only when the findings of pen-testing are translated into actions – prevention, mitigation, and remediation of vulnerabilities and integrated into the security strategy. While including pen-testing, you should not neglect the basics of security – scanning, vulnerability management, and security education.
Pen-testing is not cheap. It requires resources, time, money, and planning. That is why you need to define the scope by setting priorities through a risk-based approach. Mission-critical assets require the most attention as they could cause the business to collapse if compromised.
Be Agile and Adaptive
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and so is the threat landscape. Given this scenario, your security strategy from 6 months ago or earlier will not be effective. It needs to keep evolving and adapting to the changing landscape. Pen-testing in combination with automated scanning helps you in doing so.
Choose the Right Pent-testing Solution
Pen-testing is effective and beneficial only when it is done by experienced and trusted penetration testing service providers like Indusface. So, make sure you choose the right pen-testing solution from the right provider.
Penetration testing is an investment. It saves time, money, and hassle-costs and the mammoth reputational damages arising out of cyber-attacks. That is why it fits right into your security strategy!