Penetration testing: what it is and why you need it

Penetration testing, also known as pen testing, is a simulated cyberattack on your own systems, to identify and resolve any vulnerabilities.

The goal is to find out how an attacker could compromise your network data or applications, and then fix those weaknesses before they are exploited by a real threat.

Securing your security posture through pen testing protects you against the financial and reputational damage of a breach and helps you to avoid costly downtime. Often, regulatory standards, industry best practices and insure or funder requirements can call for penetration testing to improve resilience against cyberattacks.

Different types of penetration testing cover a wide range of vulnerabilities:

  • external penetration testing checks external-facing services, such as websites, email and cloud infrastructure, from the perspective of an attacker on the internet
  • internal pen testing investigates internal systems, including servers, databases and workstations, simulating an attacker who has already gained access to the organisation’s network
  • web application penetration testing looks at web applications, such as an online store, customer portal or blog, for vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to manipulate or steal data
  • mobile application pen testing explores iOS and Android apps for vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to access sensitive information or compromise the device or backend server

As a complex and sensitive process that requires careful planning, execution and follow-up, it is important to pay attention to the best practices for penetration testing.

Define your objectives and scope

Start with a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the test, and what systems and infrastructure you want to probe. You should also define the boundaries and limitations of the test, such as the timeframe, the methods and the tools.

Choose a qualified and trusted partner

Hire a professional and reputable penetration testing company that has the expertise, experience, and credentials to conduct the test. San-iT works with accredited partners to provide secure, comprehensive and effective pen testing.

Communicate with stakeholders

Management, legal and internal IT teams should all be involved in decisions regarding penetration testing, in order to agree on the scope of the tests and ensure that they do not disrupt business operations.

Analyse and remediate the findings

We send a detailed report to summarise the results of penetration testing, including any existing risks and our recommendations for further action. Any vulnerabilities should be resolved as a priority to improve operational security.

Repeat the test

Further tests should be conducted on a regular basis, or whenever significant system changes are made. This will help keep up with the evolving threat landscape, and maintain a healthy security posture.

Penetration testing is a valuable and essential practice for any business that wants to protect its assets, data, and reputation from cyberattacks. By simulating a real-world attack, you can discover and fix your security weaknesses, and enhance your security resilience and confidence. If you are interested in penetration testing, or want to learn more about our security services, please contact us today.

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