Regardless of your sector or size, attackers see each company as a potentially exploitable prospect. It is more important than ever before for organisations to hone in on cybersecurity practices and boost their capabilities to mitigate cyber risk.
According to IBM, the average time to identify a breach in 2020 is believed to be 207 days. Imagine someone has been living a “parasitic” life within your organisation – unnoticed for over 6 months. And imagine having no idea about it, and if they have gained access to, or even extracted any data. The good news is all of this is preventable by regular penetration testing. Read on for four crucial reasons why penetration testing is important.
Find the Maximum Attack Surface
By scrutinising how systems can be hacked, penetration testing aims to identify vulnerability and risks in the system which may impact the Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of the data by emulating hacking activities.
Through modelling the actions of a potential intruder, penetration testers try to exploit the vulnerabilities caused by code, software bugs, insecure settings, misconfigurations and/or operational weaknesses. By doing so, it determines one’s maximum attack surface – the total area that an organisation or system is susceptible to hacking. It consists of all the points of access that an unauthorised person could use to enter the system. So that you can identify all the potential security loopholes before cybercriminals can make use of them. The major difference between a penetration test and a real hacking experience rests in its safe and controlled manner. It simulates a real attack scenario and exploits the vulnerabilities only to showcase the potential harm of a malicious hacking attempt.
Ultimately, a penetration test is incredibly important as it gives you a holistic perspective on your network, application, and data security. Only penetration tests can make a realistic assessment of your company’s security posture and cyber resilience towards cyber-attacks.
Measure Cyber Maturity Accurately
Cyber maturity is determined by the readiness of your organisation’s overall practices, processes, and cyber response capabilities against attacks.
A quality penetration test will highlight your organsiation’s cyber maturity, along with the strengths which your team excels in, and the weaknesses in your security posture. Most importantly, it can also act as an indicator on outstanding legal and regulatory risks that your organisation is exposed to.
For instance, a penetration test might point out that the first line of defense is strong, as your staff members practice good cyber hygiene. However, with weak security tools in place for your environments, your organisation is still prone to external attacks. Overall, measuring cyber maturity gives the organisation and its board an overview of how secure the company is.
As new risks and vulnerabilities emerge over time, it is important to update your approach to penetration testing to reflect the latest tactics, tools, and strategies that hackers use.
Assure the Board and Stakeholders
As touched on, penetration testing can give you an indication of where your organisation stands in terms of risk exposure, as well as the potential business impact from a successful breach. Therefore, it is important for it to be conducted regularly.
For most businesses, these business impacts are embodied as reputation and financial losses, such as:
- Loss of businesses due to downtime,
- Loss of customers,
- Theft of proprietary data or company strategy,
- Legal, labor and clean-up costs, and
- Fines due to the lack of compliance with regulations.
Typically, executives’ key concerns are top- and bottom-line revenue growth. Therefore, if you can paint a picture of the business impacts of successful cyberattacks on your organisation, you can effectively address cyber risks and lead productive security dialogues with the leadership team.
If cyber threats are mismanaged, they can snowball into other issues, therein damaging the company’s image and customer loyalty.
Particularly for your customers, they will stop engaging your organisation if you are unable to prevent or respond to a data breach.
In fact, one study finds that 27% of clients discontinued their relationship with the organisation that underwent a data breach. Of those clients affected by 1 or more security breaches, 65% say they lost faith in the breached company.
Therefore, penetration tests offer you an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to security and instil trust in your board and customers. Your customers will be relieved to know that your firm conducts regular penetration testing activities to safeguard their data.
Don’t be fooled by Vulnerability Assessments
Penetration testing is very different to a vulnerability assessment. Vulnerability assessments only produce a list of unvalidated vulnerabilities that an automated tool identifies.
As a result, your in-house IT team will need to make extra effort to dive into each unverified vulnerability – to try to understand their impacts and how they can be fixed.
Moreover, vulnerability assessments do not detect every risk as it only finds weaknesses on the surface. This is due to the lack of updates to the automated tool, which may not reflect the latest techniques that hackers employ – consequently generating a false sense of security. There are no false positives in penetration testing.
Penetration tests, on the other hand, yield insights about the risks present in your systems, as well as their potential impact, and suggested remediation strategies. That’s because professional penetration testers go beyond the “identification” stage that vulnerability assessments operate on. Instead, it focuses on the “exploit” stage following “identification”. On a similar vein, these penetration tests can be learning opportunities for your team to understand the techniques and tactics used by hackers to penetrate your systems. Your team will learn about the latest tool and exactly how networks are exploited by a threat actor.
The only way to prevent these nasty incidents from happening is to perform security assessments.
No one wants to have a weak and untested infrastructure, application, or overall business environment. Penetration testing gives you a comprehensive understanding of your weaknesses and enables you to shape a strategy in how you will address the risks moving
If you’d like to learn more about our penetration testing capabilities, get in touch with our team to set up an initial consultation session.