A comprehensive cybersecurity plan includes many steps and measures working together, one of which is a network penetration test. Getting a penetration test, or “pen” test, can help you determine whether your cybersecurity measures are really working or not.
Penetration testing is carried out to gauge the risk profile of of your organization and to determine how likely your core system could be compromised if a threat actor were on your network.
Vulnerability Scanning is one component of a proper penetration test and research has shown that during a first-time penetration test, there is an average of 34 high-impact vulnerabilities found in systems. Working with an ethical hacker who can show you how these vulnerabilities can be exploited is essential in saving your business from the financial and reputational costs that result from data breaches and data loss.
Let’s go over some of the ways your cybersecurity can be improved with the help of network penetration testing.
How Network Penetration Testing Can Boost Your Cybersecurity
Network penetration testing is used to determine your organizations risk profile based on whether your current security system is working effectively to protect your information or if it needs to be refined or improved.
Through the process an authorized agent is given permission to attempt to penetrate your defenses. In this process both known, and potentially unknown vulnerabilities are identified, and exploitation is attempted.
The core difference between Penetration Testing and standard vulnerability scanning is that a Penetration Tester will attempt to utilize multiple system weaknesses (vulnerabilities) to customize an attack chain that will allow them to access the underlying system.
Most Vulnerability scanning tools only identify the vulnerability itself and cannot chain together all the weakness to identify potential exploitation vectors, this is where a penetration test provides enhanced threat analysis and targeted recommendations based on real world scenarios.
What’s Included in a Network Penetration Test?
When an organization wants to perform a pen test on their systems, they typically reach out to a trusted Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP). While some unspecialized IT companies may offer pen testing, MSSPs like Corsica are experienced in providing organizations and even government bodies with this type of evaluation.
Penetration Testing is a multi-phased approach culminating in a written report that contains supporting evidence of the organizations assigned risk score. The agent will conduct Open Source Intelligence gathering to establish how the client provided assets map to the information on the Internet. Searches are done for information that could assist in later exploitation attempts, mimicking the activities of a threat actor. This phase is followed by threat modeling and vulnerability analysis to aid in the exploitation activities. If access is gained by the agent, they document what level of access they gained and what data they could get to.
Most importantly, they collect the data and information learned during the testing process and present it to you, along with an action plan and recommendations to remedy any vulnerabilities or inefficiencies found during the test.
Benefits of a Pen Test
A pen test offers a solution for testing how effective your cybersecurity really is. Otherwise, you’ll never know whether your security system is actually strong enough until you experience a real cyber-attack, when the stakes are much higher.
An effective penetration test is able to detect possible threats to your security that come from software weaknesses, network inefficiencies, human error, and more. It shows you the real vulnerabilities that cyber criminals could exploit to gain access to your systems. By doing this, it can help you ensure that your organization can better anticipate any security threats and avoid allowing the type of unauthorized access to your network that can be devastating for companies.
Getting a third party’s expert opinion on the state of your defenses also allows you to see an outside perspective on how you could improve on your security standing, helping you recognize measures you may have overlooked.
Additionally, a pen test is especially useful in ensuring that your system is compliant with all the necessary laws to help you avoid non-compliance penalties. While compliance audits remind you of best practices to employ, they cannot test the real-world effectiveness of such practices like a penetration test can.
Overall, network penetration testing gives you peace of mind that you are aware of the potential threats that your systems face. It provides written documentation that you can use to allocate resources and make informed decisions, and it prepares your company to defend against real attacks that hackers could make.
That’s why Corsica recommends regular penetration testing for every business, especially after a shift in location, devices, processes, or other factors influencing your security. Contact us today to get a quote for a network penetration test.
Robert Smith is a Senior Analyst, of Audit and Compliance Services with Corsica Cybersecurity. Robert started his career with a focus in Networking and Systems Administration, to later specialize in IT Auditing and Penetration testing with over a decade of experience. He also has several certifications that focus on Business Continuity and Information System Security .