At what point should you consider penetration testing for your business?
If hackers attack every 39 seconds, then you can’t afford to be passive and become the next victim of cyber threats
Every 39 seconds, hackers attack to infiltrate your networks and steal private information. For every incident, you can lose an average of nearly 4 million dollars, along with a marred brand image and customer trust. Especially if you’re a small business, that staggering cost can seriously hamper your financial performance and even close down your operations.
That is why to prevent data breaches from wrecking your business, you need to invest in solid cyber defense controls like penetration testing (or pen testing, for short). To do that, you need to know, among other things, the best time and conditions to carry it out — and that’s exactly what we’ll tackle in this post.
But first, to help you grasp those things better, let’s look at the reason you need pen testing for your enterprise.
Why You Need Pen Testing
For one, pen tests expose any critical vulnerabilities present in your IT networks and systems. Some of these vulnerabilities include glitches in authentication and encryption, as well as in device, network, and host configurations, such as cloud storage and having weak passwords.
When you have glitches in these components, hackers can launch man-in-the-middle attacks and intercept your online correspondence with customers, employees, and others. Pen tests can even reveal flaws in command injections like SQL, which you use to update and retrieve information from databases, check if a column exists in the SQL server, and more.
This is crucial because when hackers inject malicious SQL commands, they can control the release of confidential information from your backend databases. Aside from your system vulnerabilities, pen tests can reveal how hackers can exploit them (if you leave them unpatched) and how strongly you can withstand cyber onslaughts. Serving as simulations of attacks, pen tests can show you those things because they give you a realistic illustration of the condition of your IT defenses.
From these findings, you can learn how to avoid getting hacked and enhance your cybersecurity posture from the recommended actions pen testers will provide. Pen testing gives you a chance to involve your executives, managers, and staff, particularly your IT team, in addressing essential aspects of your cybersecurity.
For instance, you can bolster your company policies and programs on data access authorization, risk management, and others. You can even organize staff training on information security and recognizing fraudulent tactics, among others.
Disseminating helpful resources can also boost your personnel’s awareness of cybersecurity and the role of pen-testing. When it comes to learning about cybersecurity, these are some of the most crucial resources you can look into:
- Penetration testing: https://www.bulletproof.co.uk/penetration-testing
- Phishing detection and prevention techniques: https://www.csoonline.com/article/2117843/what-is-phishing-how-this-cyber-attack-works-and-how-to-prevent-it.html
- Importance of Cybersecurity Training: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/340838
Pen testing can help you, too, in complying with relevant industry standards, as you’ll see in the next section.
When to Conduct Pen Tests
One of the best times to conduct pen tests for your company is when you recently deployed new systems, IT infrastructures, apps, and others, or added significant changes to them. These changes include, for instance, updating your firmware, software upgrades and patches, and modifications in your firewall protocols.
Ideally, you should run pen tests right before you use the system operationally and apply frequent and drastic changes to it. If you do pen testing too early while constantly modifying it, you can overlook any security flaws present in your systems.
What’s more, if you launch new or newly revamped systems without proper security assessment, you can expose yourself to cyber risks and potential infiltration attacks. You should also consider pen testing when you handle sensitive company and customer information and financial transactions online.
For example, if you own an ecommerce store, your customers can provide their names, mailing addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal details to pay for their purchases online. Managing confidential information like this makes you a tempting target for cybercriminals, who will attempt to hack your systems, steal your assets, and inflict harm. Without pen testing, much less robust security controls, you can have a hard time safeguarding these data assets from cyber threats.
You also won’t concretely know how weak or strong your IT defenses are, where you’re susceptible to, and how you can thwart the onslaughts. Dealing with private customer and company data also means you should adhere to relevant industry standards — another instance for considering pen testing.
For one, you need to follow the General Data Protection Regulation when processing people’s information on the Internet. If your business works with medical and health details, you have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Facilitating online fees through prominent credit cards and card schemes makes you liable to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS). Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 is for when you provide customer data storage services in the cloud.
These industry standards require you to guarantee the robustness of your technologies to ensure data safety. Some of them even explicitly oblige you to run pen tests periodically to be compliant.
Frequency of Pen Testing
Although there are groundbreaking security technologies for businesses available, security experts typically recommend that companies conduct pen testing every six months to a year.
The industry regulations you follow also shed light on how often you should administer the examination to comply with their requirements.
For one, the HIPAA calls for you to hire external service providers to do pen testing at least once every year.
On the other hand, PCI-DSS and SOC 2 require you to run pen tests every six months.
You can observe these periodic patterns as a general guide for the frequency of executing pen testing in your business.
No Better Time Than Now
If hackers attack every 39 seconds, then you can’t afford to be passive and become the next victim of cyber threats. Penetration testing gives you the chance to protect your IT systems first before hackers can strike and launch their vicious cyber assaults.
Which is why there’s no better time than now to consider pen testing for your business. The sooner you can do so, the faster you can shield your business assets and experience pen testing benefits to your productivity, performance, and operations in the long run.
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