6 Reasons Why Penetration Testing Is Absolutely Necessary for IT Security

By ERMProtect Staff

Penetration testing, also called ethical hacking or white hat hacking, is a form of security assessment that tests a computer system, network, or software application to find security vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit. They should be a vital part of an organization's cybersecurity strategy.  Penetration testing identifies weak points in a system’s defense by launching simulated attacks that help companies identify the different ways hackers can gain unauthorized access to sensitive information or engage in some other type of malicious activity that can result in a data breach.

Penetration testing services not only expose weaknesses, but they also simulate real-world attacks to show how an organization’s sensitive data, business systems, financial assets, and employees would fare in the event of the real thing.  They test a system’s ability to detect breaches, whether internal or external when they occur.

Penetration Tests Expose Security Vulnerabilities

The main reason penetration tests are crucial to an organization’s security is that they help personnel learn how to handle any type of break-in from a malicious entity. Pen tests serve as a way to examine whether an organization’s security policies and controls are genuinely effective. Companies can use these as fire drills to learn how to detect potential breaches,  identify weaknesses, and expel intruders from their systems in an efficient way. Frequently, pen tests uncover major system weaknesses that weren’t even thought about.

Penetration Tests Prepare Your Team for the Worst

Penetration testing helps train developers and security teams to immediately react to and effectively overcome a security breach. Your organization’s network may be vulnerable to several different types of cyberattacks, making it essential for your team to learn how to deal with each kind of attack. This will help you assess your team’s preparedness and, at the same time, allow them to fine-tune their response to such events.  When developers understand exactly how a malicious entity launched an attack on an application, operating system, or other software they helped develop, they will understand security concerns and be less likely to leave similar security gaps going forward.

Penetration Tests Help Prioritize Improvements

Penetration testing can also be used as a risk assessment tool so that companies can identify their security posture and prioritize investments and improvements accordingly.  Pen testing evaluates an organization’s ability to protect its networks, applications, endpoints, and users from external or internal attempts to circumvent its security controls and gain unauthorized or privileged access to protected assets. The result of the pen testing can be used by companies to develop a list of prioritized objectives they need to achieve in order to secure their business.

Penetration Tests Help with Compliance

Penetration testing is also valuable in helping organizations comply with laws and regulations.  For example, penetrating testing is a requirement when processing credit card data under PCI DSS. By exploiting an organization’s infrastructure, pen testing can demonstrate exactly how an attacker could gain access to regulated data. As attack strategies evolve, periodic mandated pen testing ensures organizations can stay one step ahead of hackers by uncovering and fixing security weaknesses before they can be exploited.  The tests lower the risk of non-compliance with regulations that could lead to costly fines or other regulatory actions.

Penetration Tests Help Ensure Data Privacy

Data privacy is another area where pen testing can help. Regulators from different countries are implementing strict data privacy laws to protect their citizens.  Even though penetration testing may not be required,  it helps reduce the risk of a data breach from software vulnerabilities or inadequate technical controls or organizational procedures. The tests and subsequent remediation are measures that organizations can use to defend themselves to regulators.

Penetration Tests Protect a Company’s Reputation

Pen tests are also important to protect a company’s reputation and they can be used as a marketplace differentiator.  This way, your organization can leave a really strong impression on your user base and build trust and goodwill, which will result in the long-term growth of the organization.  A company’s reputation will definitely suffer when a data breach occurs, and it is publicly announced. This may cause a loss of customer confidence and lead to a drop in revenue, profit, or share value. As people become more educated about data privacy and how it affects them, the impact of a data breach will increase tremendously.

Penetration Testing Must be Regularly Scheduled

It is important to conduct pen tests on a periodic basis.  Pen testing should not be limited to a one-time effort. It should be part of a system of ongoing vigilance to keep organizations safe through various types of security testing. Updates to security patches or new components used in a company website could expose new risks that open the door to hackers. That's why companies should schedule regular penetration testing to help uncover any new security weaknesses and prevent any opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities.

Remember: The same system that is secure today will not be the same a few weeks from now. That is why it is important for organizations to regularly conduct penetration testing on their critical assets. By regularly putting your security infrastructure and your security team through their paces, you will not have to wonder hypothetically what an attack will look like and how your organization will respond.

ERMProtect Can Help

An organization’s goal should be to avoid data breaches entirely. ERMProtect can advise you on penetration tests required for your specific business domain and IT infrastructure. Additionally, we can advise on the necessary procedures and investments required to build a more secure environment within your organization. We leverage 25 years of experience in cybersecurity to secure your data, protect your business, and manage costs and risk.

Contact us at 305-447-6750 or at [email protected] for more information. Click here to view our services brochure.

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