What are the benefits of a penetration test? Some benefits are obvious, such as finding your network issues before an adversary, but others are long-term and more difficult to measure, such as maintaining a strong reputation for your brand. Cyber criminals can harm an organization in multiple ways, but penetration testing helps prepare businesses to protect against attacks.
1. Securing Data and Systems
Your organization is responsible for valuable data and systems. Whether it be customer lists, trade secrets, credit card information, access to client systems, proprietary code, and/or protected health information (PHI), all are highly valued by attackers. Even if you are not the primary target, you may become a conduit for connecting hackers with desirable data. Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing will help your organization assess the effectiveness of your information security controls designed to protect valued data.
2. Preventing Business Interruption
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks utilize compromised systems to overwhelm and debilitate an individual target. These attacks can last anywhere from a few hours to days. During this time customers are without service, and employees are left waiting for systems to restore. A penetration test can help gauge the impact a DDoS attack could have on your business operations.
What would happen if your organization lost access to its computer systems for several hours, or even days? It is easy to get accustomed to performing processes without interruption, but it is important to understand that a data breach could bring your entire business to a halt in a matter of seconds.
3. Protecting Your Brand Image
The out of pocket expenses incurred from a data breach can be costly, but damage to brand image and customer loyalty can be the biggest expense of all. Customers depend on your organization to protect personal and business information, and one negligent misstep can tarnish your reputation indefinitely. Brand trust takes time and energy to develop, but it can be lost in an instant. If customers feel unsafe sharing sensitive information, they stop being customers.
Whether you are required by regulations, clients, or you simply want to be proactive about security, penetration testing provides you with actionable information. The more you know, the better you can protect what’s valuable to you and your clients. Establishing a proactive security approach is integral in the protection of sensitive information.
Interested in Learning the Process?
Penetration testing is very technical and complicated, but it can be broken down into three basic sections. First you have to Detect Vulnerabilities, then you must Determine Exploits, and finally you Defend Against Attacks
Vulnerabilities must first be detected before attempting to exploit them. Penetration testing engagements begin with a vulnerability scan and assessment. This process is designed to identify issues in your network infrastructure and web applications.
Once vulnerabilities have been identified, the next step is to exploit them in an effort to understand and identify the extent of the associated risks. Determining the pitfalls of your systems, network, and web applications will allow you to take action against threats.
Defend Against Attacks
Upon completion of the penetration test, Ethical hackers provide technical and executive reports outlining risks and providing recommendations for remediating critical vulnerabilities. The best way to defend against attacks is by correcting weaknesses before an attack occurs.
Understand your weaknesses, and fix them. Successful businesses draw attention from attackers, and it is your responsibility to defend against them.