5 Reasons Businesses Should Perform Regular Penetration Testing
Even before the pandemic started, organizations around the world have been migrating their processes and information online. With recent events, this process has unsurprisingly sped up. Today, stronger, more reliable cybersecurity measures are required to sustain all this business activity on the Internet.
The simple fact is that every organization has important data that hackers want to get their hands on. Whether they are credit card numbers, financial records, proprietary patents, or even personal information to be sold to the highest bidder — they are all worth hacking.
One of the best ways to strengthen the defenses against these attacks is to identify the vulnerabilities in the company’s networks or applications. To accurately do that, business organizations can turn to one process: penetration testing.
What is Penetration Testing?
Also called pen testing, white hat or ethical hacking, penetration testing is a proactive and sanctioned process of identifying and exploiting the vulnerabilities within an organization’s network. It is a way to simulate what would happen if an attack did occur and was successful in breaching the cybersecurity measures that are in place.
Even with the best employee training and top-notch IT security policies, without testing an organization may still have blind spots and security issues hidden from them. With effective penetration testing, these chinks in the cybersecurity armor can be exposed and dealt with ahead of an actual threat.
Why is Penetration Testing Important?
Any organization regardless of size can have many vulnerabilities at different levels. Penetration testing aims to expose all these weaknesses and make recommendations on how to prevent them in the future.
Here are five reasons businesses should be doing regular penetration testing:
Identify Vulnerable Entry Points and Weak Security Policies
The first and main goal of penetration testing is to subject an organization’s existing cybersecurity measures to evaluation. With pen testing, every avenue for entry is scrutinized and assessed. This includes the network, the users, the processes, among others. The test will determine if an attack can get through and how it can be done.
If the attack is successful, the test will also look into how much privileged access can be compromised — whether it is access to sensitive information or even network control.
The test is also effective at evaluating the security policies in place. A company that focuses on detecting cyber threats, for example, isn’t necessarily as keen at dealing with those threats when they manage to breach the defenses. In this case, the security policy has the vulnerability that needs to be addressed.
Some organizations may need to adhere to a range of regulations governing cybersecurity. Since the business landscape is always changing, penetration testing can ensure that these organizations stay up to date with these shifts.
In Canada, there are laws and regulations that require businesses and government institutions to develop plans and measures to prevent cybersecurity attacks, including:
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
- Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
- Provisions in the Bank Act
- Regulations from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)
- Regulations from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA)
- There are also provisions from the evolving body of Case Law or Common Law
For a more comprehensive look at Canadian regulations related to data protection and privacy, see this helpful article McMillan shared on their website.
Expose Personnel Vulnerabilities
According to TechRadar, 90 percent of all cybersecurity breaches are, in one way or another, caused by human error. This is a staggering statistic, especially considering this article on Forbes which predicts cybersecurity spending to reach $123 billion this year. Despite this massive investment in cybersecurity, human error still remains a big vulnerability.
With penetration testing, the organization’s systems and processes are not the only ones being evaluated. The test will also expose the vulnerabilities with employees and team members. This will happen in two ways.
First, the test will see whether there are weaknesses in the personnel that can serve as entry points for attacks. This may involve password hacking, social engineering, and other methods. This will test the extent of employee cybersecurity awareness.
Second, the test will evaluate how employees react when an attack does happen. This will expose weaknesses in reporting and damage control.
Build Confidence in the Company
Investors, shareholders, and even customers want to know that the organizations they are doing business with have reliable cybersecurity measures in place. After all, by dealing with these businesses, their data is also at risk of being stolen and misused.
Penetration testing is one way to show these stakeholders that an organization’s defenses are effective and that they are actively and continuously trying to improve cybersecurity further. This will raise the confidence in the organization and encourage stakeholders to engage in more business.
With Penetration testing, organizations are put in a position where they will have to deal with successful attacks. Aside from exposing vulnerabilities, this allows companies to practice how they address cybersecurity breaches.
With regular testing, these measures and processes will become more and more efficient. If a real attack does manage to break through, the organization will have enough experience to deal with the matter more quickly, minimizing downtime.
According to Microsoft, cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This has always been a trend in cybersecurity. It is a race between business organizations and attackers. Again, with regular testing, companies will be exposed to updated threats which will give them the necessary insight to fend the real ones off.
Today’s business landscape demands that enterprises make the most of the Internet. However, the vastness of cyberspace also exposes these businesses to risks. Cybersecurity has become a constant struggle between business organizations and the attackers seeking to steal and manipulate their data.
Penetration testing is one of the best ways to keep the cybersecurity measures of these organizations on their toes. It exposes weaknesses in the processes, the systems, the users, and the policies. It develops cybersecurity awareness at all levels. It helps reduce or mitigate instances of breaches and their consequent downtime, and finally, it strengthens confidence for investors and stakeholders.
Outsource IT offers effective penetration testing for organizations looking to improve their cybersecurity. The team can perform penetration tests on internal and external networks, web applications and wireless systems as well as vulnerability assessments for cyberattacks. Contact an Outsource IT account manager to learn more.