7 Ways Penetration Testing Helps Protect Your Business

By Tom Redmond - November 05, 2015

pv-blog-7-ways-penetrative-systems-testing-helps-protect-your-businessImagine the most precious things in your life. Your family. Your life's savings. Your home. Think about all the things you do to ensure they stay safe and secure. Now think about your business and its assets. How much thought have you put into protecting and securing them? Specifically, how much goes into to protecting your wireless network?

After all, it's a precious commodity for your organisation and needs to be safeguarded against malicious attacks and threats.

One of the steps you can take to protect your wireless network, believe it or not, is to attack it, with the help of penetration testing, or ethical hacking. Subjecting your network to penetration testing is an excellent way to discover vulnerabilities that could be exploited by parties wishing to harm your network.

How Does Penetration Testing Work?

Essentially, penetrative testing is designed and executed in such a way that it uncovers and exploits existing vulnerabilities in your network, and highlights whether or not your existing security controls can withstand attacks from active, skilled third parties. Either a team, or an individual, will use their skills and experience to launch an attack on your network which highlights real-world attack vectors proving a risk to your organisation.

There are three broad types of tests that penetration testers can run:

Black-box testing: In this instance, the tester is given no prior knowledge of a company's network and approaches the network exactly as a malicious hacker might.

White-box testing: In a white-box test, the tester has complete knowledge of the organisation's internal network. This is often considered the most accurate approach to penetration testing, as it projects the absolute worst case scenario, where an attacker has complete network knowledge.

Grey-box testing: During a grey-box test, the tester simulates an attack from inside the organisation by posing as an internal employee with standard access to the network and an employee account, with the end goal of assessing internal network threats.

Why Should You Consider Penetration Testing?

Even if your network has a wealth of security resources in place with sophisticated counter-measures, these can often be breached by the ingenuity of the human mind, with its ability to think laterally, both analysing and creatively probing till a weakness is discovered. A skilled human threat agent poses a real danger to an organisation, even if that same company has checked all the boxes regarding their security compliances.

7 Ways Penetration Testing Saves Your Organisation (and Network!)

1. It Highlights the Potential Fall-out of an Attack

Without sufficient testing, businesses have no idea of exactly what sort of repercussions an attack on their network might have. Sure, they could speculate, but there's always the risk that it could be far, far worse, with alarming consequences that stretch across the organisation and affect its overall health in many aspects from financial to operational. Conducting penetration testing provides a closed environment to simulate the outcomes of an attack, should one ever occur. It also provides an excellent opportunity for you to develop a fool-proof recovery plan in the event of a successful attack ever occurring. 

2. It Determines Feasible Sets of Attack Vectors

Attackers often use a variety of attack vectors, all of which work together to compromise and damage your network. Testing highlights the attack vectors that are likely to be successful in an attempt on the network.

3. It Detects Vulnerabilities Potentially Missed by Automated Network Vulnerability Software

There are vulnerabilities that are difficult for automated network vulnerability software to detect, which can be identified successfully during a penetration test.

4. It Uncovers Dangerous Combinations of Low-Risk Vulnerabilities

While one low-risk vulnerability might not be cause for extreme alarm, combinations of low-risk vulnerabilities can all add up to a high-risk one. Testers can pick up these combinations so you can guard against them.

5. It Tests the Detection and Response Abilities of Your Network's Defense Systems

Your network security measures need to be up to the task of detecting and responding to threats, and the best way to find out if they are is to test them.

6. It Offers Proof of Need for Security Upgrades to C-suite

Most managers know the pain of motivating for additional funding - a task that becomes exceeding difficult without proper proof of the necessity for said funding. The results of penetration testing are powerful indicators of a need for increased funding towards securing your network, especially in light of their ability to showcase the absolute worst-scenario for your business in the event of attack.

7. Avoid High-Cost Periods of Network Downtime

Quite often in the wake of a security breach, the rising costs due to network downtime and its subsequent effect on productivity can end up running into the millions. By testing potential holes in your network security, you can safeguard against the threat of downtime related to a breach.

Take the time to consider engaging in penetration testing to ensure your wireless network is secure, and your business is safeguarded against attacks. You can either run your testing using your own internal team or hire a third party to conduct it for you. One thing's for sure - it's never too early to start focusing on boosting your network's defenses.

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