Penetration Testing: How Breaking Security Helps Bolster Defense
Last year, companies worldwide reported more than 5,200 breaches, surpassing the previous record set in 2015. Total number of breached records also rose, with 2017 topping out at 7.8 billion records compromised. 1
This resulted in increased infosec spending across industries and organizations, much of it focused on employee education and next-gen security products. The critical missing link? Evaluating current systems and software for potential points of compromise using what’s known as “penetration testing.” Here’s how breaking your IT environment can help bolster defense.
What is Penetration Testing?
The best way to discover if your systems are secure is to hire someone to break them. That’s the idea behind penetration testing, also called pen testing. IT experts run simulated attacks against your network and software to find weak spots and discover previously unknown points of entry.
What’s the Risk?
For companies with strong security policies and a culture of IT awareness, it’s tempting to write off pen testing as unnecessary. But consider a recent attack simulation that saw more than 50 percent of employees falling for a spoofed email link — and at least one executive providing his credentials, which gave testers full account access.2
Simply put, risk exists. From open-source vulnerabilities to zero-day threats, phishing attacks to social engineering efforts, hackers are always innovating, always developing new techniques to bypass security protocols and compromise underlying software or networks.
Once breached, companies stand to lose everything from critical data to customer loyalty; consumers expect businesses to safeguard their personal and financial information. Compliance is also an issue. New legislation such as GDPR combined with evolving rules such as HIPAA and PCI DSS mean companies can’t afford a compromise.
Breaking Bad: Benefits
Companies gain multiple benefits with the help of experienced penetration testing services, including:
- External Network — Evaluation of perimeter defenses and Internet-facing hosts and services.
- Internal Network — Assessment of private networks and services to determine what insiders could access or compromise.
- Wireless — Are existing WiFi security controls enough to protect corporate access and authorization?
- Human Behavior — How effective are physical security and remote controls in preventing social engineering or phishing attacks?
- Web Application – Do your apps present vulnerabilities that can be exploited?
- Remediation Verification — Post-identification and remediation, are vulnerabilities really eliminated?
Periodic Pen Tests
It’s also worth creating a schedule for regular penetration testing given the increasing speed of software deployment and cloud adoption — your security risk in six months will look very different than today. Your best bet is to deploy professional penetration testing services at least twice each year, and on demand if you’re making a big change such as large-scale cloud adoption or phasing out legacy solutions.
No security environment is perfect. Limit your risk and bolster defense by breaking your network with expert, in-depth penetration testing.