What is Penetration testing?
Penetration testing also dabbed as ‘pen test’ or at times ‘ethical hacking,’ is a technique used to determine a security posture of a system or organization through uncovering threats, vulnerabilities, and risks that an intruder could potentially exploit in web applications, networks or even software applications. Penetration testing is usually performed by ethical hackers, who may be in-house employees or hired white hats who have signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) that allows maintaining the privacy of what they can find during the operation and keeping it confidential the organization or business. These hackers evaluate the hackability of the systems, network, and applications and provide an assessment report to the organization.
Why is Penetration Testing necessary?
The obvious increase in cyber-attacks in the current data-driven age contributes to the need for performing penetration testing. Nonetheless, it Is not the only contributing factor. Various key reasons may drive an organization to require or need penetration testing. These include:
Regulations & Compliance
Various operations may require the need to comply with specific regulations; for instance, payments on the platform that have debit or credit cards involved need to comply with the PCI-DSS regulations. An annual pen test is recommended on the system to mitigate these risks. Non-compliance may lead to incurring costly fines, losing the operating license, or even serving jail time.
Verification of Security Protocols
Most organizations make an effort to secure their systems. Organizations do have their security teams provide and endorse measures to secure the organization from attacks. However, they may be confident in their measures and security protocols used. Still, the best way to affirm is by having a penetration testing team validate how secure the current system is using means an attacker would while trying to sabotage the system. Although no system is ever 100% secure, penetration testing will help identify loopholes and recommend fixes to improve security.
Testing & Validating new Technologies
When new technologies are integrated into the business ecosystem, they bring with them unknown risks or even vulnerabilities. To ensure that the security is still robust, penetration testing can be performed and may assist in discovering security holes or threats that may be present due to the integration of these technologies, and may save on future costs by allowing fixing of identified security issues on an early stage of development, as a preventive measure.
Rivalry and Competition
For businesses or organizations in a competitive space, losing proprietary data can be pretty devastating, more so if the data is accessed by the competitor. If this data is exposed, the competitors may use this information and take advantage to defame or even engineer ways to acquire a better market share in the space now that they may understand inner dealings or strategies that may give your organization or business a market advantage.
Companies usually suffer when a data breach occurs and is publicly announced. This may cause significant financial losses and clients as no client would want their data exposed, which puts them at risk of attacks. In addition, investors to the business may also drift off to evade losing their money.
Conducting regular pen tests, in general, will improve the organization’s security and minimize the risks of data breaches or hacking. Moreover, it will help evade the mentioned drawbacks among other negative effects towards the business or organization.