As cyberattacks around the globe have increased and cybercriminals add new and innovative methods to breach networks, businesses are now incorporating penetration testing as a way to catch the loopholes before the criminals do. Circumventing these criminals is an ongoing process, as each time you plug one hole, they develop the next generation of Trojans and security breach software. Doing a risk analysis via system penetration should be part of the cost of doing business today.
System penetration testing should not be confused with vulnerability assessments. These are often used in an interchangeable discussion, but they are completely different processes. In a securityweek.com article they list the differences but also the importance of performing both types of testing and analysis:
“Vulnerability assessments have become one of the dominant security practices in today’s dynamic threat landscape. Leveraging vulnerability scanners, be it for network, applications, or databases, has become standard for many large end user organisations. Even smaller enterprises are leveraging managed security services to scan their environments. The objective of vulnerability assessments is to identify and quantify security vulnerabilities in an environment. Off-the-shelf software scanners are designed to evaluate an organisations’ security posture, identify known security gaps, and recommend appropriate mitigation actions to either eliminate or at least reduce weaknesses to an acceptable level of risk.”
“In addition to contextualising the organisation’s internal security intelligence with external threat data, more and more organisations are conducting penetration tests to determine the exploitability of vulnerabilities. A penetration test is conducted by ethical hackers in an attempt to simulate the actions of a malicious external and / or internal cyber-attacker. The objective is to expose security gaps and subsequently investigate the risks they pose and determine what type of information could be extracted if the weakness were exploited. Penetration test results are typically reported on severity, exploitability, and associated remediation actions. Ethical hackers often use automated tools such as Metasploit, and some even write their own exploits.”
The bottom line is to recognise that in today’s cyber security topic, it is no longer enough to simply accomplish a vulnerability assessment, but companies large and small must also add the secondary piece of penetration testing. Professional cyber security organisations can come into a business, do a risk analysis, follow through with necessary IT and network changes and then run a penetration test to evaluate any areas of weakness. This is not a one-time situation as there is a continued evolution of cyberattacks, each one using the newest methods to breach systems. This is especially important for those companies that are still operating on legacy systems. Cybercriminals are on a constant watch for older, less sophisticated programs and networks as well as companies that may not have incorporated security protocols for those levels. Whether you have a legacy system, are transitioning to a newer network or have a combination of both old and new, each area brings a vulnerability that cybercriminals will try to exploit.
Information-age.com clearly dictates the priority of penetration testing and the reasons that it should be used:
“The most effective way to do this is for security teams to conduct controlled simulated attacks and to carefully construct drills and protocols that can be implemented when any similar, real-world attacks take place.
Penetration testing (pen testing) involves running simulated hacking exercises against corporate networks and systems in order to reveal how cyber criminals could gain entry.”
“The intelligence subsequently gathered during these exercises can then be used to address any weaknesses that are uncovered. Organisations are therefore able to shut down any open avenues to attack, and can gain an understanding of how today’s attacks work in order to better plan for a real-life incident.”
Investing in a partnership with a security company that can focus on the various elements of both penetration testing and vulnerability assessments will keep your staff and network updated on security breaches, plug any holes that could allow a breach and maintain the integrity of your proprietary data.
“One of the main goals of Da Vinci CyberSecurity is in coordinating both testing and assessment of a company to ensure that they have the up-to-the-minute analysis and results for their systems. In today’s cyber world, companies must take extra precautionary steps to protect the security of their data from cyberattacks. Criminals will continue to alter their approach and it’s our job to assist businesses so that their networks are evaluated and tested to lock out the attacks.”
Da Vinci Cybersecurity