Every business needs to be on the lookout for cyber attacks. The unfortunate reality is that there are many hackers out there looking for vulnerable targets. If you want to find vulnerabilities in your system before a hacker does, then it is time to learn about penetration testing.
Author: Ron Evan
Penetration testing is a critical part of any application security program. It is the process of identifying vulnerabilities in your applications, and then exploiting them to determine what risk they pose to your users or data.
This article will give you some great information on how penetration testing, also called pentesting, works and why it should be part of your security strategy and your software testing activities.
Benefits of Penetration Testing
Before coming to the actual steps to follow when doing penetration testing, it’s significant to understand the advantages of the procedure. This makes you appreciate the task, hence more willing to invest in it.
One of the key benefits is ascertaining the quality of the software. These days, there are many software developers out there, which means that the competition is high and providing users with secure tech products gives you an upper edge.
Secondly, you avoid breaches. As a software company, you have a great responsibility of providing products fit for society. This is what makes you safe from lawsuits against you.
Through the pentesting work, you will act proactively after the discovery of the vulnerabilities early. In this case, it’s possible to make the necessary adjustments, hence making it effective. It helps in building and maintaining your good reputation.
Thirdly, it helps you achieve compliance. Meeting the set security testing requirements makes you be at peace with the authority.
Through the test, you will not only know the vulnerability, but also help you achieve compliance with the industry standards. This includes payment card compliance (PCI).
Recently, there have been trends that are making testing more complex as well as changing expectations. One major one is the use of PTaaS (Penetration Testing as a Service). In this modern version of pentesting, it’s faster to share the pentest results with different clients in real-time.
This is generally through a website portal or even a technology platform. If you want to achieve better tool integration and remediation, these platforms are critical. It often leads to better decision-making.
DevSecOps are another emerging trend in these tests. It aims at secure shipping software within short periods.
Companies are striving to achieve integration of security processes into CD pipelines or software development workflow. What DevSecOps do is drive the requirements for comprehensive penetration testing.
Frequency of Penetration Tests
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Apart from the IT infrastructure, some disciplines need you to be ever conscious of data. Good examples are accounting and finance disciplines. There are online educators ready to share the secrets on how to be secure when dealing with your data.
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When determining the frequency of penetration, there are several factors to key in. For instance, you have to look at the network technology, the type of industry you’re in, and even the compliance regulations.
Even so, there are specific situations that call for an immediate pentesting task. One of them is after doing a security patch. It’s necessary to know how the modification has influenced the security level of the software.
Secondly is the issue of new industry compliance requirements. The authority sometimes identifies areas of weakness that hackers are capitalizing on. After many reports of cyberattacks, companies may be asked to conduct penetration testing within a specific time interval.
Thirdly is the issue of increasing media attention. Generally, this increases the likelihood of attacks. Cybercriminals always rely heavily on any resourceful information on the IT systems. Therefore, the more a particular issue on IT weakness is circulating, the better to do the testing. It keeps your mind well-relaxed, knowing that you’re safe.
The Steps of Penetration Testing
The first and foremost step to penetration testing is conducting a review of the organization’s digital assets. Doing this will allow the testers to be aware of the organization’s most sensitive assets, such as information pertaining to the network’s vulnerability, customers’ personal information, or even regulatory compliance.
It is important to conduct this review during a portion of the business cycle when information on these assets is most accessible and, thus, when the organization is in the best position to respond to an attack.
Scan for Vulnerabilities
The suspected vulnerabilities are well-screened at this point. However, for this to be the case, you may need to use the automated scanning tools. Commonly, the instruments may provide a false positive. Therefore, the analysis is accurate when you go with the results common in all the scanning tools you use. Sticking to one tool could compromise the accuracy.
Assess Vulnerability Results
In this third step, the pentester needs to evaluate every suspected vulnerability. This is where the usage of specialized pentesting tools is relevant. It becomes much effortless to identify the exploitable points.
Depending on the complexity of the IT infrastructure, you may need to include as many testing tools as possible. Employing manual pentesting techniques is also significant.
This fourth phase takes the testing to another level. It is here that you verify the high-risk vulnerabilities. The exploitative technique you utilize needs to be both safe and comprehensive. Using code injection, manual processes, and automated pentesting tools is imperative.
The goal is primarily to gain access to a networked device and move unabated between the security systems. These systems need to be sharing the same network but in separate security zones. At this point, you are through as all you need is a report showing the lift of vulnerabilities and the right course of action to prevent cyber attacks.
Penetration testing is much relevant in the modern world and more so in checking the vulnerability of IT systems. There are many benefits from these tests, which include better user experience and achievement of compliance. You will notice that there are trends taking place in the pentesting tasks that aim to make the operations more effective.