Penetration Tests: Why It Stops Trouble Before It’s Too Late

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No matter what kind of company you work in, if it has online assets – like a web store or site, or databases containing sensitive information like business strategies, financials, or customer info – you face a dilemma: how do I stop unauthorized users from entering restricted systems and accessing files, yet ensure seamless accessibility to my users?

There are of course countless approaches to this problem, usually including layers of security, powerful software and enforced policies. Now, even in big firms, ones with enviable IT budgets, it is not easy to ensure that everyone follows the cyber rules.

Staff churn, software upgrades, new services, remote workers, IOT, BYOD – all the changes that businesses are making to stay afloat in an increasingly digital market space, impact your network environment. Even the most diligent of you who read the internal IT reports and poke and prod the system, cannot be aware of all the changes that may have impacted your system’s ability to withstand an attack, be it ransomware, phishing, or data theft.

For instance, can Paula in accounts – the new hire – increase your overall risk posture by choosing her own password to access the company financial databases? She is thinking of choosing her dog’s name along with its birth year, information that is prominent across many of her public social profiles. Or what about Frank the frustrated senior sales manager who has been secretly stealing short reams of code every day, copying them to a private USB. This has been going on for months without anyone noticing.

There are a thousand of these types of scenario that make policing a network virtually impossible, without a regular penetration test to check for vulnerabilities and whether any suspicious behaviors have been recorded.

This truth alone makes the case for ensuring you have regular penetration tests of your systems. A regular penetration tests allows a third-party experts to use the latest tools to shake up your system and see what trouble bubbles to the surface.

But penetration tests do a lot more than that.

Having experts on hand to conduct the penetration tests is like having medical specialists review a diagnostic test result. Their expertise and experience is invaluable, not only when it comes to categorizing and prioritizing the findings, but also in deciding what steps are next.

Penetrations Tests, depending on their scope and depth, may find a plethora of oddities and concerns. Some may be false positives. Some may be appropriate and defensible for your organizational model, and some may be glaring holes in an otherwise secure environment.

At TBG, for example, we use powerful tools to look for exploitable vulnerabilities deep in the network architecture. This approach means we get back a lot of information. In the hands of a novice, it could take weeks to parse the data and decide on a strategy to mitigate risk.

Conversely, having an experienced pen tester navigate you efficiently through the findings, highlighting the trouble areas of most concern, radically improves this process. They will also be able to help you estimate fixes and timings. The point of having an expert on hand is simple: it saves time, money and resource in both the short and long term.

Another advantage of conducting regular penetration tests is that it assesses your security posture. You may have any number of key technologies in place to defend your network from hacker or malware intrusions, but a regular review of its defenses will poke at configurations and settings, ensuring that the existing defenses are in line with the service you want to offer and the data and people you want to protect.

In fact, a good penetration test not only tests security postures in security software, but will also review services as well as data collection and storage to ensure your processes, services and systems are not harboring known exploitable vectors for intrusion.

For example, you may be under the impression that patches are reviewed and installed on a regular basis, but having third party confirmation that all is in order and nothing is amiss gives both your team and your stakeholders a bit of respite from the constant worry of “What if THAT happens to us? Are we in good shape?”

But a really big, often unused advantage of regular penetration testing is that it can be used to train your IT staff. Have a staffer less familiar with cybersecurity issues shadow and learn from the testing and its results. By seeing how defenses withstand or fall over during attack attempts, they will absorb a ton of information that will serve not only to strengthen your IT team, but better ensure that security is baked in from the get-go.

Plus, good penetration tests will come with an analysis report, one that prioritizes concerns and highlights strengths. These reports ought to be stakeholder-ready. The point of them is to help sysadmins defend their budgets and dedication to operating well-oiled, resilient systems.

Finding a good penetration test partner, one that works with you to ensure your systems are as healthy and resilient as expected, brings peace of mind and helps pave the digital road for future growth.

Regular penetration tests conducted by experts are an excellent tool to avoid serious cyber setbacks. Finding and isolating vulnerabilities and weak security defenses is the first step towards lowering your security risk posture.

TBG Security has decades of experience providing penetration guidance to many recognizable organizations.

As the Trusted Advisor for many Fortune 2000 firms, TBG Security has tailored its penetration test services to suit large or established businesses, as well as financial, government, healthcare and education sectors.

Our modular approach allows us to tailor our services to ensure you get actionable results fast with little to no disruption to day-to-day business operations.

If you have any questions about penetration testing, get in touch. We are here to help.

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