What Is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing—also known as pen testing or ethical hacking—is an active test of a computer system’s security measures, using the same or similar techniques and tools used by real hackers. It is a team of analysts simulating an attack on a system, all the while identifying potential risks in the process. Pen testing is important for any business and is commonly required for compliance measures, but why? And is it enough to stay safe in an increasingly unsafe digital world? Read on to learn about:

  • The pen testing methodology
  • Why security testing is important
  • Different types of pen testing, and
  • How can help your business stay safe

Why Is Penetration Testing Important?

Protecting your business from hackers is a moving target, and without regular assessment, that target can easily be missed—even if your business is compliant with all safety measures. As you read this article, the methods used to steal sensitive information are evolving to beat the current industry standards of protection.

Simply installing some antivirus software and moving on is not enough. If you’re not proactive, it’s only a matter of time before you’re dealing with a security breach. Pen testing is a great diagnostics tool for your cyber defenses because it does not care whether your security ‘meets standards’ or is ‘up to date;’ instead, it looks at your protection for what it is, assessing it against the current methods of breaching.


How Does Pen Testing Work?

In general, the five types of penetration testing are internal, external, web application tests, social engineering tests, and physical tests. Each test attempts to breach defense systems from different angles and with differing amounts of starting information. For example, external penetration testing searches for exploitable vulnerabilities via any web-facing assets your organization has, whereas internal testing assesses how someone with inside access may compromise data, operations, or systems.

Testing cybersecurity from multiple angles provides a more holistic view of how protected you truly are from invaders. Cyberattacks can come from any direction, so keeping your business secure requires understanding your defenses’ from as many angles as possible. Pen testing provides a third-party validation system that cannot be swayed in any way, and simply looks at what you are (and are not) protected from.


When Should Pen Testing Be Done?

Typically, pen testing is performed once a year—sometimes more, though annual testing is enough to meet most compliance requirements. While this does provide some insight into an organization’s security posture, it is not enough to protect against cyberattacks. A single pen test is an assessment of security at a specific point in time. It’s a snapshot of how your organization’s protections performed in that particular moment, but it cannot account for how it will perform in the future. Often, hackers are simply looking for a temporary gap they can slip through—via momentary cracks, misconfigurations, or one-off human errors—that a single pen test will not detect. More continuous testing is needed to maintain a secure business, especially as hacking techniques advance and evolve.

Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS) can be a strong benefit to your business. Regular pen testing is like a still photograph of your defenses. PTaaS is like a streaming video. It provides you with continuous monitoring of a business’s security measures and automates pen testing into a workflow that can continually assess for new risks.

InterVision is a provider of PTaaS. Our PTaaS platform by RedSpy365 can also map its pen testing analytics to business processes and calculate real financial impact, meaning you’ll have a better understanding of not just your risks, but how they correlate to your business operations and your bottom line.

Interested in a complimentary demo? Schedule a call and learn how InterVision can keep your business safe.

Featured PTaaS webinar: On-Demand Webinar, The Story and Evolution of Penetration Testing.