As technological ecosystems grow and become more complex, cyber attackers get better at breaking into systems and gaining access to sensitive information. According to Statista, there were about 15 million data records exposed through data breaches in the third quarter of 2022 alone—a 37% increase from the previous quarter. To mitigate the chances of these data breaches, many companies perform penetration testing in their cyber security.
Penetration testing is a company’s way of using ethical hackers to attack their systems to find weaknesses within it before a real hacker finds them. However, many companies don’t often conduct penetration tests because they can be expensive and take significant time to complete. However, with Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS), your company can safeguard against cyber attacks more efficiently at a lower cost.
What Is the Goal of Penetration (Pen) Testing?
The goal of penetration testing is to identify vulnerabilities in your technological ecosystems to protect them against cyber threats. Ethical hackers attack your tech stacks to find existing or potential weaknesses so that your IT team can fix them and make them stronger.
There are four different types of penetration testing that the ethical hackers might use on your systems:
- External Network Pen Testing: They try to access your system through your servers internet-facing applications.
- Internal Network Pen Testing: They start with access to your system and determine what’s most at risk of malware or attacks from bad actors within your company.
- Social Engineering Pen Testing: They check to see how well your employees follow policies and procedures related to cybersecurity.
- Web Application Pen Testing: They attack, without doing real damage, your company’s web applications to determine how easily they can access sensitive information.
These ethical hackers may start with full access to your system (white box method), no access (black box method), or some access (grey box method). By using multiple tests and methodologies, ethical hackers can check for weaknesses at various places within your system and in different circumstances, better protecting your system against cyber threats.
What Does Penetration Testing Prevent?
Penetration testing prevents cyber attacks on your company’s system by identifying system deficiencies that should be addressed and improved. Five of the more common ways attackers do this include:
- Server Security Misconfiguration: Occurs when security settings aren’t set up or are set up incorrectly, lowering the protection surrounding your systems.
- Cross-Site Scripting: Happens when a cyber attacker injects a bad side script into your website so that users’ computers think they can trust the side script. This gives the attacker access to users’ sensitive information stored on the users’ browsers.
- Broken Access Control: Allows unauthorized users to access parts of the tech stack that they don’t have permissions to view.
- Exposure of Sensitive Data: Takes place when your company releases sensitive information without knowing you’re doing so. It may also occur during a security breach if sensitive information is unlawfully deleted, altered, or accessed.
- Authentication and Session Hijacking: Occurs when a cyber attacker gains access to sensitive information by taking over a user’s computer during a browsing session.
With penetration testing, you can correct these issues before they lead to serious security breaches and costly downtime.
When Is Penetration Testing Required?
How often pen testing is required depends on the industry you work in or the specific business you work at. Some authorities, like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), do not require companies to do penetration testing. However, they recommend it as a way for companies to meet other security guidelines.
Other policies, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), require penetration testing when deemed necessary to protect patients’ or customers’ sensitive information. Even when it’s not required, though, it’s important to conduct these tests anyway. The benefits of penetration testing, namely safer technological ecosystems for your employees and customers to use, far outweigh the effort of testing.
How Frequently Should a Company Penetration Test Its Systems?
At minimum, your company should perform pen tests at least once a year to keep your system security up-to-date. Depending on your budget, security guidelines set by your industry, and the amount of sensitive information you store on your servers, though, you may want to conduct them more frequently. You should definitely complete one when your IT team is about to release a new system or make updates to an existing one so that all weaknesses in the system can be strengthened before bad actors directly exploit these vulnerabilities.
More frequent pen testing may appeal to your company, but how do you do it more frequently when your IT team has other projects and issues to work on? With Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS).
Get PTaaS From an Industry Leader
Continuous testing with Penetration Testing as a Service means your company can have:
- Better risk management
- Stronger business continuity
- Safer customers and partners
- A protected brand reputation
- Fewer financial losses
- Better compliance
- Improved ROI from security investments
- Ensured security no matter where your employees work from
InterVision and our partner RedSpy365 work to continuously discover risks in your systems and inform you of potential impacts on your business should they go unremediated. Continuous testing means a significantly lower chance of a data breach than you would experience with a single pen test. We are the only threat modeling platform that does this in the live environment, allowing you to conduct penetration testing regularly without interruption to your workflows.
Learn more about how our PTaaS tools can better protect your systems and overall cybersecurity by scheduling a demo.
Knowledge is power
Our experts have compiled research and recommendations to help you better understand threats, protection, and solutions.