You have to hand it to hackers. Every day, they seem to get smarter and more adept at infiltrating business networks.
Consider their recent “march of progress.” Gone are the days when they relied strictly on bots and so-called spray-and-pray attacks to spread malware via email – a tactic that worked only if you opened the link. Today, cybercriminals have stepped up their game with ransomware and far more advanced web threats to stealthily penetrate systems. Potentially, what might first appear as an innocuous threat could escalate rapidly into something approaching catastrophe.
As hackers ratchet up their attacks, business owners have little choice but to ratchet up their defenses accordingly. A first and most necessary step in that regard is penetration testing (or “pen testing,” for short). In a pen test, security professionals act like hackers. They employ techniques favored by cybercriminals — password cracking, social engineering tactics, etc. — to gain access to your IT systems. The resulting report furnishes detailed information relative to the specific attacks conducted, what did or did not succeed, and how defenses can be improved.
A pen test is an invaluable security assessment with an unending host of benefits — and here are the top five:
1. Gain insight into your weaknesses
By putting IT systems through the same stresses as a real hacking attempt, a pen test shines a bright light on your system’s weaknesses — and that’s a good thing. Instead of painfully discovering your systems’ shortcomings through real-world attacks, vulnerabilities can be addressed before a major security breach occurs. Newly confident in your ability to safeguard applications, networks, users and endpoints from internal and external attacks, you can anticipate emergent threats and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and critical systems.
2. Meet monitoring necessities and avoid penalties
Data regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR have strict security requirements for companies to achieve and remain in compliance. Broadly, companies must ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of personally identifiable information.
Pen-testing reports offer a major assist in avoiding penalties for noncompliance. By uncovering your compliance risks, it allows you to make more informed decisions about how to improve the security of your data management practices and infrastructure.
3. Prevent network downtime
Dealing with damage due to areas of system weakness is invariably costly. Any significant downtime may bring with it IT remediation efforts, retention programs, reduced revenue, legal ramifications, etc. Pen testing dispenses with all that, enabling you to prevent such financial setbacks by proactively detecting threats.
4. Protect company image and customer loyalty
A single breach can compromise customer data, ruin your company’s brand and negatively impact your bottom line. Penetration testing can help your business avoid such devastation – and save your company from financial and reputational ruin.
5. Identify which areas of security you need to invest in
Like your employees.
During pen tests, it is often revealed that staff is using weak passwords or carelessly opening phishing emails. Proper education and training are obviously required here. If it’s discovered that your systems are highly susceptible to attacks, it may indicate a need for advanced intrusion prevention systems and security monitoring services.
Hackers are smart. Pen testing is smarter.
As we approach the third decade of the 21st century (yup, we counted), firewalls are no longer sufficient – and penetration testing is no longer an option. It helps your business stay safe and avoid losses and preserves your brand equity and financial stability in the bargain. Full disclosure: It should only be carried out by trusted and highly experienced experts who can think several steps ahead of hackers. To find out more about the benefits of penetration testing, give us a call today and we’ll walk you through your first assessment.