Penetration Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Penetration Testing: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated on 15 August 2022 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 therefore use penetration testing services to locate and understand their specific weak spots that an attacker could exploit.

What is a penetration test/penetration testing as a service (PTaaS)?

A penetration test is a form of security risk analysis that exposes the flaws in your core attack vectors, operating systems, network devices, and applications. The method involves ethical hackers attempting to infiltrate these touchpoints and locate weaknesses that could be exploited by an attacker. Therefore, PTaaS is about finding (testing) vulnerabilities and remediating (securing) them before an attack, making it an essential security practice.

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 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. 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.