Cyberattacks are multiplying in complexity and quantity with cybercriminals actively introducing new and sophisticated forms of attacks every day. Modern businesses require something beyond antivirus and firewall, which can test their resistance to security threats and suggest an advanced approach with due diligence. They need remediation strategies and defense mechanisms that are highly effective.
Penetration testing helps decipher to know how, when, and why a cyber attacker can gain unauthorized access over confidential assets. There are many ways in which penetration testing is defined, conducted, and marketed. To a greater extent, penetration testing is considered to be only a compliance audit or a periodic vulnerability assessment. However, it goes way beyond this.
Penetration Testing as a Compliance to Security Regulations
PCI, HIPAA, and ISO 27001 have laid down regulations on the maintenance of security norms in the organization and dealing with confidential information of the customers. These regulations focus on the management conducting regular penetration tests and security audits with the help of professional security analysts who are certified and skilled. The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requires penetration testing annually, as well as whenever there is a change in the system. To avoid heavy fines associated with non-compliance, penetration testing, instead of being a security measure, has more likely become a legal formality. Management, rather that considering compliance as a form of legal compulsion, should start using the reported vulnerabilities to enhance their security controls.
Benefits of a Penetration Tester
Undoubtedly, penetration testing help protect businesses from potential intruders. The benefits extend far beyond simple compliances.
- Uncover Hidden Vulnerabilities Before Any Criminals Reach Them
The best method to test the security is to learn how a malicious attacker can gain access to sensitive data. By performing a penetration test, an organization can determine the vulnerabilities in a system and how safe their IT infrastructure is when exposed to internal and external hacking attempts. The penetration tester impersonates a cyber attacker by intruding the systems and exploiting the vulnerabilities that may be due to software bugs, service configuration errors, operational weaknesses, insecure settings, and so on.
The difference between penetration testing and malicious hacking is that the former is performed in a safe and controlled manner, with the consent of the organization. A penetration test stimulates a real attack and exploits the vulnerabilities as a process to understand the expected potential harm in the case of a cyber incident and addresses the vulnerabilities that can be patched.
Organizations usually plan and conduct penetration testing when a new product is launched, or a new service is deployed or after introducing significant changes to their infrastructure. This helps them to identify potential vulnerabilities to be fixed before the product is exposed online and invites unwanted threats.
- Develop Efficient Security Norms
The purpose of a penetration test is to assess the current security level of the IT system. A penetration tester can provide intuitive information about retrieved security vulnerabilities and their actual impact on the overall efficiency of the organization’s performance. An internal penetration tester knows the pulse of the organization’s performance level and can submit a list of recommendations suggesting timely remediations. They can also help to prioritize future cybersecurity investments to develop a more reliable information security system.
An experienced penetration tester will use leading methodologies and both manual and automated tools to bring skills that are certified and competent. Though penetration tester uses automated tools, it is the manual skill with personalized experience and knowledge that brings a professional touch to the penetration test.
- Reduce Network Downtime and Save Remediation Costs
A security breach usually costs millions of dollars for the recovery of the business, which includes regulatory fines, loss of business, expenses to protect customers’ interest, and other expenses required to carry out the containment. In a study conducted by IBM, the average cost of a data breach globally accounted US$3.86 million in 2018, which is 6.4% higher compared to the previous year . That means the remediation process would require substantial investments, higher security measures, and longer time to recover.
Hiring a penetration tester is a proactive solution to identify vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure and take appropriate measures to prevent a business from financial or reputational loss. Regular penetration testing by a licensed penetration tester ensures business continuity. An internal penetration tester can advise necessary procedures and required investments that aim at establishing a secure environment within the organization.
EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) is a certification from EC-Council that brings a required skill set among aspiring penetration testers. It is a fully hands-on program that comes with many lab exercises and access to the iLabs Cyber Range. ECSA is a globally accepted credential for hacking and penetration testing that covers the testing of modern infrastructure, operation system, and application environments. Besides, the program hosts a unique feature of developing report writing skills of the penetration tester, which helps to justify the assessment performed as well as serves as a reference to serve the compliances.