This blog was written and produced by Alex Santiago, Senior Penetration Tester at FoxPointe Solutions. Looking to get in touch with Alex? Reach out today: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our globe is linked through a fragile network that deals with healthcare, government, banking, and corporate data, while DoS attacks, website defacement, and other cyber-attacks are on the rise. The number of phishing attacks alone has skyrocketed over the last few years.
By the Numbers
- In 2019, the average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million. (Security Intelligence)
- In 2019, the average time to identify a breach was 206 days. (IBM)
- The financial services industry takes in the highest cost from cybercrime at an average of $18.3 million per company surveyed. (Accenture)
- Damage related to cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. (Cybersecurity Ventures)
- Financial services had 352,771 exposed sensitive files on average — the highest when comparing industries – while Healthcare, Pharma, and Biotech have 113,491 exposed files on average. (Varonis)
- In 2018, 62% of businesses experienced phishing and social engineering attacks. (Cybint Solutions)
To mitigate the risk of a costly security incident, you need to be able to prevent, detect, respond, and recover from attacks. Prevention is possible if you remediate all known network vulnerabilities and device or network misconfigurations, patch systems, enforce an eight-character complex password policy among users and perform regular assessments to identify additional unknown vulnerabilities. And remember, security controls that are in place today cannot guarantee that a system will stay secure forever.
To put a proper detection and recovery system in place, penetration testing is key.
What is a Penetration Test (Pen-Test)?
Penetration testing is known by many different names: ethical hacking, White-hat hacking, pen-testing. It is a type of security assessment that tests a computer system, network, or software application to identify security vulnerabilities that an attacker may exploit. This type of test evaluates an information system’s security by simulating an attack from a malicious source.
A business authorizes a pen-test to determine its cybersecurity weaknesses and discover methods to strengthen its systems.
Why are Pen-Tests Imperative for Businesses?
Have a strong security system already? Great! But for how long? A system that is secure today will not necessarily be the same a few weeks from now. Attackers evolve and businesses need to continuously conduct penetration testing to remain strong.
Businesses hire Penetration Testers to:
- Assess Risks: Penetration Testers perform a thorough risk assessment to uncover the security risks and impacts that a business is exposed to.
- Protect Reputation: A company suffers lasting reputation damage after a security breach. If customer information is not secure, trust is damaged.
- Maintain Privacy: Not only is customer privacy and trust important; companies also need to adhere to government regulations.
- Save Costs: Large breaches cost millions to repair. Investing in your security budget will save you later.
- Safeguard Against Competition: Even if it’s not competitors who breach your security walls, confidential data could still end up in their hands.
Why Are Penetration Tests More Than Just Checking A Box?
Pen-testing and vulnerability scanning are two separate activities. While both are important on their respective levels, pen-testing cannot be replaced. The scope of penetration testing is targeted and always requires a human factor. There is no automated penetration testing.
- It’s often recommended to bring in an external Penetration Tester to conduct system analysis. This brings a fresh and expert opinion, as in-house testers follow routines, schedules, and simply check boxes.
- A professional Penetration Tester is trained to identify threats through a new approach and determine the probability of an attack. They are trained to think beyond the ordinary and navigate their way through even the toughest of barriers.
Finally, Penetration Testers provide detailed, industry-tailored documentation of their findings. This includes methodologies, penetration findings, and security flaws. Most importantly, this also includes remediation details to prevent future malicious attacks.