A malicious attack is a way hackers try to take advantage of someone’s computer either through viruses, phishing or other kinds of social engineering.
This can be done with the intent of stealing personal information (such as in social engineering) or to reduce the functionality of a target computer.
The objective of a malicious attack is to exfiltrate information, disrupt the operation, demand payment and many more. While there are many reasons your system could be attacked, it is better to stay safe and prevent malicious attack before occurring.
What is Penetration testing?
“Penetration Testing is defined as a type of Security Testing used to test the insecure areas of the system or application. The goal of this testing is to find all the security vulnerabilities that are present in the system being tested.” – Guru99.com
To make it simple, Pentest is a simulated cyber attack on your system to test its vulnerability. In this type of ethical hacking, a number of application systems are attempted to breach such as APIs and Frontend/backend servers.
Pentest Approach to Mitigate a Malicious Attack
In this phase, the strategy and scope of the project are determined here.
Here, all possible information of the system is collected, in order to check the vulnerability of the system
In this phase, the system is exploited to test for vulnerabilities
Here, a detailed report is generated on the risks identified
The insights from the Pentest can be used to fine-tune the security policies. There are 5 different types of pentests that are performed on an organizations system to identify the vulnerability.
- Network Services
- Web Application
- Social Engineering
Reasons to Perform a Penetration Test
Penetration testing is one of the most used and oldest forms of security testing. Here the ethical hackers simulate real scenario cyber-attacks to test the system.
The primary reason organizations perform penetration testing is to identify and fix the security loopholes before a hacker finds out.
Once a penetration testing is completed, a detailed report is shared to the organization illustrating the weakness and areas of entry within the organization.
This report contains clear, actionable and prioritized steps for mitigating security risks. This report will provide a clear idea on which risk to address first and which you can deal with later.
Moreover, this report will also provide an efficient remediation process.
Penetration testing can be a money saver for you by elapsing data breaches and monetary penalties.
Seriously, imagine the amount of money you could end up spending to reinstate your organizations brand identity after a data breach.
Moreover, customers are becoming very sensitive to data breaches, as they don’t want their information to wander across the internet.
Penetration testing also fulfils some of the compliance constraints such as PCI DSS and SOC 2. Which is mandatory in most cases.
Benefits of Penetration testing
Penetration testing not just saves you financially, but also provides various other benefits such as,
- It saves network downtime caused by a breach
- It identifies the effectiveness of security awareness training
- Gives a way to evaluate the effectiveness of countermeasures and security controls
- Uncover methods hackers might potentially use to compromise customer data
- It helps organizations with their security stance
- The overall security life cycle is enhanced
- It demonstrates the impact and feasibility of the attack without suffering the risk
- It provides knowledge to assist in regulatory compliance
- It helps determine proper security budgets
Who should the organization choose to perform Pentest?
Within most organizations, the internal IT team has the capability to run few pentests. However, an experienced security testing service provider is highly recommended for conducting penetration tests.
Because these pentests are not just important, it also requires expertise to perform these tests. It is a best practice to partner with third-party security testing vendor for your security testing needs.
Your internal IT team will not be able to test the vulnerability of your system effectively compared to a third-party vendor.
Because the security testing vendor will follow best practises, OWASP standards, have immense expertise and proven experience in security testing.
Hence it is better for the organizations to outsource the penetration testing to an experienced security testing vendor.
In a Nutshell
Penetration testing is more than a compliance obligation, it is a critical first step to network security and information.
Though it cannot replace other security measures such as vulnerability assessments, it is a valuable part of a comprehensive security program. Failing to do may result in loss of data, reputation and customers.