Choosing the Right Pen Test Partner
Keeping your organization secure is critical in today's digital age. To fortify your defenses against evolving cyber threats, it's crucial to engage the right cyber security partner. Navigating the landscape of Penetration Testing (Pen Testing), Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS), and Automated Penetration Testing presents a challenge to business owners. Discover how to strike the right balance between periodic evaluations and continuous protection.
Penetration Testing (Pen Test) - An Overview
Penetration Testing, often referred to as pen testing, is a well-established practice in cybersecurity. These tests, involving penetration testers, certified ethical hackers, and security experts, are simulated cyber attacks against your computer system to check for exploitable vulnerabilities.
- Identifying vulnerabilities promptly is essential as they expose organizations to potential cyber threats, enabling ongoing risk management and mitigation.
- Small vulnerabilities, often overlooked, can collectively pose a significant risk, making human-led pen tests vital for pinpointing potential entry points that automated systems might miss.
- Following an end-to-end penetration test, a comprehensive report is presented, including discovered vulnerabilities and prioritized remediation advice, typically discussed in a presentation or meeting to ensure clarity and resolution.
- Well-trained human-based penetration testing can uncover a range of issues that automated systems might not detect.
- High prices for penetration testing often mean organizations only pen test a segment of their assets and often only on an annual basis, leaving them vulnerable to emerging threats and changes in their security posture.
- Inadequately conducted penetration tests can lead to severe issues, including server crashes, data exposure, and production data corruption, directly impacting an organization's cybersecurity and information security.
- Establishing trust is essential when engaging a cybersecurity firm for a penetration test, as these experts access your systems, networks, and live environments. Lack of competence or misuse can result in undesirable consequences. It is essential to understand their methods, and ensure appropriate agreements and insurance coverage.
- Misleading results can arise when penetration tests occur under unrealistic conditions. To obtain an accurate assessment, it is crucial to maintain an element of surprise, as pre-announced tests may prompt stakeholders to prepare, potentially presenting the organization as more resilient than it truly is. Real-world cyberattacks occur without warning, underscoring the value of conducting pen tests as close to real-life scenarios as possible.
Penetration Testing as a Service (PTaaS) - A Game Changer
PTaaS takes the concept of pen testing and makes it more accessible by automating basic tasks performed by penetration testers. In this hybrid solution, human assessment depth is combined with automated breadth, surpassing the capabilities of legacy scanning tools, such as authorization or business logic.
- PTaaS operates on a monthly billing model, offering predictable expenses for businesses.
- There is minimal administrative overhead, eliminating the need for additional scope approvals.
- More frequent monitoring and testing, starting with an initial assessment and adapting scope based on changes and new vulnerabilities in services.
- PTaaS offers immediate actionable insights, unlike traditional reports which may not provide ongoing visibility, making it ideal for organizations prioritizing continuous assessment over compliance-specific snapshots.
- Some common tasks that would normally be performed by a human are instead conducted by scanners, streamlining the assessment process.
- Some third-party providers, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), impose timing restrictions on pentesting, necessitating pre-authorization and allowing a limited testing window, requiring organizations to seek authorization multiple times per year.
- Vendor-specific encryption processes may affect sensitive data retention and handling in PTaaS, potentially hindering the ability to archive data at rest using key-based methods or split key knowledge.
- Testing is still quite expensive due to human dependency, which leads to a limited number of services being tested.
- PTaas, while more frequent than traditional assessments, still relies on human schedule and initiate assessments, introducing potential delays in the evaluation process.
Automated Penetration Testing - The Power of Continuous Protection
The concept of Automated Penetration Testing represents a paradigm shift in cybersecurity. It leverages automation and AI to provide real-time threat detection and response. As new threats emerge, it constantly monitors and adapts, rather than waiting for scheduled tests.
- Automated penetration testing offers comprehensive protection against a range of threats, including DDoS attacks, weak passwords, SQL injection, header spoofing, phishing, and more, ensuring the security of your IT infrastructure.
- These tools are easily accessible online, often provided as software-as-a-service (SaaS), allowing you to subscribe and quickly scan your IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities and threats, simplifying the security assessment process.
- Automated penetration testing lives up to its name by being fast and effortless, whether accessed online or through local installations, as it efficiently scans your IT infrastructure for threats automatically.
- While effective against various threats, it may not provide the same depth of analysis as manual penetration testing, potentially allowing some threats to go unnoticed due to its automated nature.
- Compatibility issues can be a drawback of automated penetration testing, as certain tools may not align with your operating system (OS) or other software, rendering them unusable. In contrast, manual penetration testing, although also requiring tools, is less prone to compatibility problems as it involves manual execution rather than automated processes.
Choosing the Right Approach
Having examined the strengths and weaknesses of each type of penetration tests, the next step is to contemplate the optimal strategy for your organization as well as choosing the top pentest companies.
- Pen Test Services: Consider an annual pen test to perform a thorough examination of your security posture. This provides a comprehensive assessment and identifies critical vulnerabilities.
- PTaaS: Implement PTaaS for continuous support testing. This ensures that you're not only addressing existing vulnerabilities but also adapting to new threats as they emerge.
- Automated Penetration Testing: While there is continuous protection offered by Automated Penetration Testing, it complements, rather than replaces, periodic pen testing and PTaaS. Invest in Automated Penetration Testing to bolster your defenses throughout the year.
To ensure cybersecurity in an ever-evolving landscape, a combination of approaches is ideal. Incorporate Automated Penetration Testing into your security strategy and complement it with periodic evaluations through pen testing or PTaaS.
Conduct annual penetration tests by reputable companies for thorough assessments. Simultaneously, employ PTaaS for continuous support testing, and consider Automated Penetration Testing to strengthen defenses against emerging threats.