You've seen news stories of data breaches by mysterious hackers stealing information. That threatens to release sensitive information to the public unless they get paid. But did you know there is a proactive way of testing your security before the bad guys do?
Let's explore how you can protect yourself and dive into the what, why & when of pen-testing.
What Is A Penetration Test?
A penetration test, or pen test, is when a trained team of security experts tries to find your system's weak points.
Hackers are always trying to exploit vulnerabilities in cloud services and applications. Vulnerabilities may exist in insecure configurations, outdated dependencies, or even bad end-user behavior.
Security assessments help verify that your defenses are working as they should. It usually involves an attempt to compromise an app, servers, or IT infrastructure.
After finding a vulnerability, the security engineer will then try to escalate privileges. This means they will try to get access to sensitive or information they should not be able to access.
After the exploit succeeds, it then gets reported to the development team to patch.
What Is the Difference Between Vulnerability Scans and Pen Tests?
The terms “Vulnerability Scan” and “Pen Test” are sometimes used, but they refer to two different types of security tests.
Vulnerability scanners are just automated tools that examines an app's source code and generates a report upon completion.
Scanners often list these vulnerabilities based off CVE identifiers. CVE identifiers are a list of known weaknesses.
Scanners can discover vulnerabilities, some low to severe vulnerabilities. That's when prioritization of the vulnerabilities are needed.
Unfortunately, these scanners can result in false positives so just relying on them is not enough.
This is where penetration tests come in.
They are a great way to see if any issues may not have been caught by your routine security testing.
Penetration tests add additional context to vulnerability scans. By seeing if the discovered vulnerabilities could be leveraged to gain access.
Penetration tests help you prioritize remediation plans by identifying the areas to be protected.
Why Is Pen Testing Even Important?
Finding and Prioritizing Vulnerabilities
Pen testing exposes any weaknesses in your web apps and cloud infrastructure. This gives your the knowledge of where you weak points are and where you should be direct resources and in which order you should fix them.
Managing Vulnerabilities In A Smart Way
Pen testing gathers detailed information about security threats that can be exploited by actual hackers.
You can find out which vulnerabilities are most significant and worth addressing, which ones should be disregarded, and which ones may be false alarms by performing a penetration test.
This allows you to more thoroughly and efficiently evaluate risks, apply needed patches, and allocate resources to ensure that they are available when and where they are needed most.
Taking A Proactive Approach To Your Security
Today, it's clear that there is no one solution to prevent a security breach.
You must now have a portfolio of advanced security measures to protect against cyberattacks, including Firewalls, SIEM solutions, and IAM programs.
But even with these security tools, it can be difficult to find and eliminate every vulnerability in a network or web application.
Penetration testing takes a proactive approach, uncovering weaknesses so that organizations can know what needs to be remediated and if additional layers need to be implemented.
See What's Working Vs What Is Not
Too often, companies make changes to their security programs without first identifying the actual problems that need fixing.
Pen tests aren't only about finding vulnerabilities. You'll find out what policies are most effective and which tools give you the highest ROI.
These insights can help you allocate security resources wisely, ensuring that they are available when and where they are needed most.
Be Confidence In Your Security Strategy
How can you know your security posture is effective if you never test it?
You can avoid being blindsided by an attack when your security team puts your security infrastructure through its paces.
You'll have safely experienced teamwork and will know how to prepare a well-organized team for success with security.
How Often Should You Test Your Security?
You should perform penetration testing regularly to ensure a high level of application security.
Tests should also be performed if required by regulatory mandates, additional tests should be run whenever:
- You update a applications dependencies
- You made major changes to your application's codebase
- Adjustments are made to the infrastructure or hosting environments
What Should You Do After a Pen Test?
When going through the results of pen tests, discuss plans for improving security and revisit your security posture overall.
Pen tests are important, but you shouldn’t just scan them for vulnerabilities and check them off a list.
Make time for a post-mortem to talk about what was discovered, share the results, and learn from them.
We suggest that you provide actionable information to decision-makers within your company. As this will help them understand the impact that vulnerabilities pose and the positive impact of remediation.
Review, evaluation, and leadership buy-in can transform pen test results into action items for improvements and takeaways that help shape larger security strategies.
Want Your Security Tested?
Here at Monstarlab, we have recently created a new cybersecurity division that can conduct web, API & mobile security tests.
If you would like to learn more about how Monstarlab could help you improve your security please contact us here
Article Photo by B_A