What is Penetration Testing? How Can It Help Your Business?

December 9, 2019



BY Konstantine Zuckerman

Penetration testing, or PenTesting for short, has become all the rage in cybersecurity circles and is becoming a greater part of cybersecurity requirements in regulated industries. But what is it?

Simply put, a PenTest is a simulated cyberattack meant to highlight weak points in your company’s computer infrastructure—basically hacking you before the criminals do to determine what needs fixing and how to fix it. There isn’t a standard process of PenTesting, since it depends on the purpose of your security system. So in order to understand whether or not a PenTest can help you and your business, you need to clearly lay out what your problem is and how you would like to solve it.

For example, are you worried about a ransomeware strike? Are you worried about a DDoS attack? Are you worried that your IoT architecture might allow some unknown, malicious entity to access highly valuable and sensitive data? Maybe it’s all of the above? How deep do you need to go until you’ve found what you’re looking for? How much are you willing to spend? Answering these questions is essential in ordering a penetration test.

With so many questions, it can be hard to know where to start: most people don’t know much about cybersecurity, and certification programs for this industry are a fairly recent development. However, industries ranging from FinTech, to Healthcare, to education, and beyond need staunch cybersecurity postures now more than ever, with hackers stealing millions worth of social security numbers, credit card numbers, and medical records on a regular basis. In order to thoroughly protect yourself from these threats, it’s crucial to set strict and specific guidelines for what needs protection. In this case, asking testers for “just the basics” may not hone in on security issues that are vital for your business.

Okay, so who are you? What can you do to help?

CYBRI is a network of vetted cybersecurity professionals, based in the United States, ready on-demand to help companies create and improve their cybersecurity programs. Our team of CyberPros consists of the nation’s top white-hat ethical hackers, the majority of whom are OSCP, GIAC, CISSP, and CEH certified. With these experts at the helm, CYBRI provides businesses with a rapid and in-depth assessment of critical business infrastructure.

Now, don’t worry. White hat hackers aren’t hackers in the traditional sense of being criminally-involved. They have an understanding of communication protocols and cybersecurity infrastructure and know what can cause failures and subsequent breaches. This is the only similarity between them and hackers. However, most hackers do not have these certifications. Hackers tend to be involved with unauthorized exploitation of system vulnerabilities for profit, looking for businesses to target rather than businesses to work with. Don’t think of our CyberPros as hackers; security consultant is a much better term.

So what actually happens during the process?

It really depends on what your specific needs are. Typically, there’s a multifold approach towards the system. An external test is required, simulating an attack from your typical outside hackers. However, PenTesting requires we take the extra step of internal attack simulation, of hackers that manage to penetrate the first layer, or malicious employee subterfuge from within the company. Coming at your system from these multiple angles can help us find as many potential vulnerabilities as possible.

Will this get in the way of my business?

Absolutely not! Your already existing infrastructure may interpret the external test as malicious activity, but that’s about the extent of it. The internal test will simply need access to your network to simulate an intrusion, but there won’t actually be any damage done to your system. We are looking to test your vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.

Well, what if we already do our own vulnerability scanning?

That’s great! Vulnerability scanning has its place in any up-to-date security system. However, most vulnerability scanning will only return superficial information about threat exposure and usually isn’t conducted with the intent of finding those deep-seated issues in your system’s infrastructure. Penetration tests go much deeper and are active and intentional in what sorts of issues they look for. Furthermore, at the end of the PenTest, CYBRI will provide you with a detailed, easy-to-read report on what was found, where it was found, and the next steps on how to remediate it. Penetration testing is a consultative service that can provide insights beyond a simple software scan.

That all sounds good, but how do I know it actually works?

For years now, security experts have lauded PenTesting as a method “critical in helping them identify unseen risks”, in a report by Nextgov. In this report, they detail a discussion with the security experts in the United States Department of Homeland Security.

According to Adrian Monza, cyber defense branch chief of the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, “Really critically and importantly, what [penetration testing] has done is given us a much better sense of what are the things we need to focus on and where are the control areas that we really have weaknesses”. In Monza’s experience, his team of “internal hackers”, as he called them, have brought in fantastic and “illuminating” results.

Penetration Testing is a vast improvement on previous security system tests. This technique can help protect your business from the rapidly growing threat of cyberattack which will protect your company’s reputation and bottom line.

Read more about us and how we can help with your penetration testing needs at: https://cybri.com/penetration-testing/


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