What businesses should know about penetration testing
Learn how penetration testing can help improve your business’s cyber security measures
Cyber security has become increasingly important for businesses of all sizes, now more than ever. Last year, 36 billion records were exposed due to data breaches in the first three quarters of the year. 
It’s critical to keep your clients’ best interest in mind by establishing adequate security measures to keep their sensitive information safe from hackers and potential breaches.
Penetration testing is one of the best ways to assess your business’s security measures, expose weaknesses, and determine how to strengthen your defense against cyber attacks.
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing or pen testing is a hands-on test performed by a cyber security expert that aims to evaluate the security of computer systems, IT infrastructure and exploit vulnerabilities.
A penetration test is ultimately a simulated cyber attack that businesses can use to see how their computer systems would react in the event of an attack. Your business can then use these vulnerabilities and the information from the penetration test to strengthen your overall security measures.
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Why is penetration testing important?
Penetration testing helps to identify and prioritize risks, as well as manage your system’s vulnerabilities. A pen test examines your business’s ability to protect its applications, users, and networks from a hacking attempt as well as provide insight into what applications are most at risk in your computer systems.
This information allows your business to determine which vulnerabilities are the most critical, allowing your team to efficiently create new security measures based on the high-priority vulnerabilities.
A penetration test also allows your business and IT teams to effectively prepare and handle cyber attacks by seeing how your business’s computer systems would handle a hacking attempt.
Penetration testing offers confidence and peace of mind for your security measures. There’s no way to be certain of how your current security protocols would handle a cyber attack without a pen test.
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What are the 6 stages of penetration testing?
When a penetration tester runs a pen test on your business’s systems there are 6 stages to the process. These 6 stages usually include:
- Planning and preparation. To get the most out of a pen test, it’s important to adequately plan and prepare by establishing your goals beforehand. Your team and the IT professional performing the penetration test should have a clear line of communication and agree on the objective of testing.
- Discovery. During this phase, the penetration tester surveys and inspects information on the target computer system by gathering information about networks, people, and systems without actually attempting to infiltrate. IP addresses and other technical information can help determine information about firewalls and other connections. Names, job titles, email addresses, and other personal information can be valuable as well.
- Attempt and exploitation. This step is when the pen tester begins to attempt to enter the target computer system through the entry points determined in the previous step. The testers attempt to exploit security weaknesses and see how deep into the network they are able to access. When the testers gain access into the network, they will elevate their access privileges to administrative level to look at security weaknesses.
- Analysis and reporting. Testers should keep an in-depth record of everything they did during each step of the process including what was used to successfully penetrate the system, what security weaknesses were found, and any other critical information.
- Clean up and remediation. It’s important that the penetration test left no trace, so the testers should go back through the networks and systems to remove any remnants used in the testing.
- Retest. After your business has updated your security measures based on the findings of the penetration test, another test should be performed to ensure the security updates are effective.
How we can help
We offer a wide range of IT security services that are uniquely tailored to fit your business’s needs. Our comprehensive services and team of experienced IT professionals help keep your business and your team safe from cyber security threats.
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1: RiskBased Security | 2020 Q3 Report Data Breach QuickView