Penetration Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Penetration Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on 7 June 2023 by admin

Penetration testing, or pentesting, is an integral aspect of achieving and maintaining cyber resilience – particularly in today’s digital climate with cloudification and heavier reliance on IT infrastructure.

Vulnerabilities occur from a range of sources, from misconfigurations to software bugs, so their presence is inevitable. For security and IT leaders, a primary objective is to ensure the external attack surface is as secure as possible and that any weaknesses are remediated both efficiently and effectively.

Many organizations use penetration testing services to locate and understand their specific weak spots that an attacker could exploit.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing is a simulated cyber attack on a computer system, network, or web application to test its defenses. The main benefits of this type of  manual security testing are to identify vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit and to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s security measures.

By conducting regular penetration tests, organizations can improve their security posture, protect sensitive data, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Additionally, penetration testing can help organizations to identify and fix weaknesses in their systems before a real attack occurs, potentially saving them a significant amount of time, money, and reputational damage.

Some specific services include internal, external, mobile, web application, remote, and cloud security testing. So, you can pick the one best suited to your needs. Not only do these tests provide critical insight into your digital health, but also equip you with expert remediation advice.

What is Pen Testing as a Service (PTaaS)

Penetration testing as a service (PTaaS) gives organizations the ability to access on-demand pen testing in a more agile format than traditional pen testing.

PTaaS automates a portion of the pen testing procedure, lowering the number of specialists required and eliminating the need to accommodate their schedules. It allocates pen tests within a cloud-based platform that is scheduled by users helping. In addition to generating reports that users can view in real time, it enables continuous monitoring of automated pen tests.

The goal of PTaaS is to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a company’s security posture so that they can be addressed and fixed before a real attack occurs. PTaaS is often used by organizations to comply with industry regulations and standards, such as PCI DSS and HIPAA, that require regular testing of security controls.

What is the difference between penetration testing and vulnerability scanning?

It is important to note that vulnerability tests are very different from pen tests. The distinct features are the time they take, their scope, and their cost.

Vulnerability discovery is an automated approach, offering a systematic review of potential risks by using a variety of scanning tools to assess your entire digital infrastructure or network for any known vulnerabilities from a large data pool. It then provides a catalog of vulnerabilities prioritized for remediation, usually with advice on how to fix specific ones. At Informer, for example, we use a criticality-scoring system known as Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). This industry standard is used to assess the severity of vulnerabilities. Thus, allowing you to prioritize and respond to threats efficiently.

Which vulnerabilities do penetration tests look for and find most?

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and use a number of techniques to gain privileged access to your network or systems. The main attacks include:

  • DDOS attacks
  • Phishing
  • Ransomware
  • Malware

A penetration test will ultimately show you how you could be targeted in a cyberattack. Some of the main vulnerabilities looked for by ethical hackers are listed in the OWASP Top 10. Currently (2021) the top 10 include:

  1. Injection
  2. Broken authentication
  3. Sensitive Data Exposure
  4. XML External Entities (XXE)
  5. Broken Access Control
  6. Security Misconfigurations
  7. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
  8. Insecure Deserialization
  9. Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities
  10. Insufficient Logging and Monitoring

A risk-based approach to cyber security is essential, so routine penetration testing is becoming critical for effectively protecting your network and systems.

What are the main benefits of penetration testing?

Nearly  80% of senior security and IT leaders lack confidence in their cyber security posture, and growing dependence on cloud infrastructure inevitably invites more opportunities for vulnerabilities to be both created and exploited.

The core value of a penetration test is utilizing the manual expertise and experience of a skilled and qualified pen tester. In their armory will be a broad range of tools and techniques which are applied to industry testing methodologies. Some other benefits pen tests include:

  • Access business-critical security insights to effectively manage your risks
  • Adhere to compliance regulations that mandate penetration testing (such as HIPAA and The New York Shield Act)
  • Establish and maintain trust with your clientele by proving that you prioritize data protection
  • Be confident in your security by resolving your systems specific vulnerabilities

How often should you conduct a penetration test?

Many organizations wait too long to schedule a test or don’t respond accordingly when vulnerabilities are flagged. Depending on the size of the organization, a penetration test should be done at least once a year to verify its ability to shield its systems, networks, your clients’ data from threats. Increasingly security minded companies are moving beyond the traditional snapshot approach by adopting continuous penetration testing services. This enables a more dynamic way to pen test as changes, new features or new code changes are pen tested constantly. A high-profile company would be a high-value target for threat actors, so tend to be most at risk.  Last year broke all records in terms of data lost in breaches and the sheer volume of cyberattacks.

How Informer can help?

As a dynamic platform with a client-first approach, Informer is designed to acclimate to an ever-changing digital world. With an ambition to streamline cyber security maintenance, specialized integrations improve developer and information security management workflows for optimization. Informer adopts an innovative approach to cyber security, changing the game by reforming traditional security testing.

Our new penetration testing integration allows for seamless use of Informers platform tools and your access to your testing results in one central area. Your security testing results can now be delivered via the platform and shown alongside existing assets for complete vulnerability coverage. Get in touch with our friendly team today and book a demo.