Cyber-attacks have increased. Implementing different security measures is a must for businesses and institutions to ensure that their systems will never become susceptible to any type of penetration. Interruptions in the performance of applications or services can lead to negative press, financial losses, lost customer trust, penalties and fines. A study published by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average cost of information breach for the affected organization is $3.5 million.
It has become SOP for organizations to conduct penetration testing and vulnerability scans on a regular basis. Such practice is even endorsed by most IT specialists since an attack could lead to disastrous outcomes. Penetration testing assesses an IT infrastructure’s security by safely exploiting vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may exist in incorrect configurations, hazardous end-user behavior, operating systems and application flaws.
Penetration testing can also help validate the efficiency of defensive mechanism. This process is best conducted by a third party. Ethical hackers are more familiar with possible vulnerabilities than IT professionals who are in charge of running the organization’s network. Their skill and occupation may be the same, but their desired outcome is different.
Importance of Penetration Testing
Also known ethical hacking, penetration testing is conducted by organizations to prevent any attempt to mess with their systems and breach their security. Those performing penetration testing will carry out what attack perpetrators perform, but their main goal is to pinpoint vulnerabilities. The hacking is performed as an important part of the penetration and the one doing it provides periodic reports of how a certain hacking activity is affecting the server security and the website, which is then sent to the organization for proper remediation management.
There are various reasons why organizations should conduct a penetration test.
- Determine if new bugs exist in recently updated software
- Confirm if current control is efficient and properly implemented to secure senior management and IT security handlers
- Determine the weak aspects in the hardware, software and among users in order to create better controls
- Test if the applications being used are vulnerable to attacks
- Develop a strong defense against potential attacks
Security threats haunt web masters every now and then. These problems may arise due to inaccurate configuration, disabling automatic updates and a network security hole in the system. A security breach often happens if proper measures are not taken. Penetration testing should only be conducted by an expert who is known for his integrity and credibility.
How Often Should a Penetration Test Be Performed?
Penetration testing must be conducted on a regular basis to guarantee more consistent network and IT security management. This process reveals how developing vulnerabilities or recently exposed threats may be taken advantage of by attackers. Aside from regularly scheduled assessments and analysis, penetration tests should also be conducted when applying security patches, moving to new office locations, changing end user policies, adding new network applications or infrastructure and applying modifications or upgrades to the existing applications or infrastructure used by the organization.