Penetration testing is essential to maintaining a secure and well-defended IT infrastructure. Read on to learn more about the benefits of Penetration Testing services, and how IT experts like Vancord can help your organization manage, defend, and respond to cyber threats.
What is a Penetration Test?
A Penetration Test, or pen test, assesses an organization’s IT and cybersecurity network, software, and security controls. During these tests, an IT expert will mimic the process of a cyber attack to identify and evaluate areas of vulnerabilities that an attacker might exploit to gain access to your systems, exfiltrate data, or deploy ransomware.
Pen tests help organizations find and understand areas of their systems that should be fortified to prevent loss of operational time, money, or reputation (in the case of a public breach). Additionally, these simulated attacks help evaluate deployed security controls, identify vulnerabilities that are not discovered during a routine systems scan, and gauge the overall security efficacy.
There are a variety of cyber-attacks that an organization may face. Therefore, it’s vital that different testing strategies be utilized to measure the various parts of your infrastructure, both internal and external.
Internal Penetration Testing
Internal threats can come from employees, technology, or systems inside of an organization, and can be triggered inadvertently or maliciously. Internal penetration testing aims to simulate threats with existing access to networks or resources. This may include a rogue user, compromised personal devices, or a guest/contractor with some degree of access. In addition, an internal pen test evaluates established security controls, ensuring that access is only permitted to desired users. Here are some common areas that would be reviewed for an internal test:
- Network Infrastructure
- Switches, firewalls, load-balancers, etc.
- Servers, appliances & services
- Domain controllers, wireless access, web server, etc.
- End-user devices
- Company-managed workstations, IOT devices, and more!
External Penetration Testing
External threats come from outside of the organization and may adversely impact internet-accessible resources. This typically includes systems like email and remote access to web servers. Most attacks performed from this vantage point go after areas of significance like sensitive data, which can be held for ransom or sold to make a profit. Some common areas that would be reviewed during an external test include:
- Public IP addresses (DMZ)
- Servers, applications, and services explicitly exposed by the organization
infrastructure, which depends on public components
- Mail, DNS, etc.
- Systems and services which may be accessible in the event penetration is successful
Pen testing is considered “preventative” maintenance as it provides foresight to improve system weaknesses ahead of an attack. The overall goal of this testing is to minimize the number of threats, downtime associated with attacks, and costs associated with recovery efforts.
Penetration Testing vs. Vulnerability Assessments
Many companies conduct internal evaluations of their defenses through vulnerability assessments. While this is a common practice used to monitor system security, there is a significant difference between these assessments and penetration testing.
The purpose of a vulnerability assessment is to identify known software weaknesses that can be exploited, identify outdated operating systems or firmware, and detect when equipment may be compromised. Moreover, the focus of penetration testing is to exploit unknown weaknesses in an environment. Additionally, vulnerability assessments are normally conducted by in-house IT staff on a quarterly or monthly frequency, while pen tests are conducted 1-2 times a year by an outside IT expert.
While both practices are critical to a comprehensive security strategy, organizations looking to improve their defenses and network should consider performing a vulnerability assessment before conducting a pen test.
Who Should Perform a Penetration Test?
Organizations of any size and industry who are concerned about their network security and want to prevent a cyber attack should perform a penetration test. This is especially true for businesses in industries such as finance, healthcare, insurance, or education that work with and store their customers’ sensitive data. Additionally, companies that need to meet specific compliance or regulatory requirements should strongly consider performing regular pen tests to maintain compliance.
Benefits of a Penetration Test
Understanding the potential flaws of your infrastructure is undoubtedly a key benefit. However, there are many other positive impacts regular pen tests can have on your organization. Our penetration testing helps to achieve the following:
- Identify areas of infrastructure to fortify
- Prioritize remediation based on operational needs
- Meet compliance requirements
- Reduce the likelihood of a cyber attack
- Provide security guidance and documentation
- Improve business continuity
- Support budget planning for security
- Strengthen customer loyalty and trust
- Cyber chain map for incident response
- Refreshed perspective on security design & more!
Why Choose Vancord
Our team is comprised of brilliant IT and cybersecurity experts who boast decades of experience. When conducting a penetration test, our innovative testers are able to think like an attacker to produce better, more impactful findings and recommendations.
We provide high-quality reports with actionable feedback, whether you are testing a single application or an entire data center. Additionally, we’ll notify you immediately if we discover critical security gaps that place you at risk. Most importantly, our team is passionate about helping you reach your goals through the peace of mind that comes from security.
As the old adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Prevent a significant data breach or cyber attack before it happens by testing your defenses. Let our team of IT experts help you navigate the penetration testing process. Contact us, today!