As access to technology continues to expand onward and upward, the sophistication of breaches and cyber attacks follows suit. As we discussed in an earlier blog post, 2017 was the worst year on record for breaches and hacks, and things aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
It is imperative for your company to evaluate its security efforts, and that starts with thorough and robust penetration testing.
Penetration testing, also referred to as pen testing or ethical hacking, uses advanced methodologies that simulate actual cyber attacks against your system. This process helps to expose vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit. By acting like a criminal, pen testers follow the same steps that hackers use to access a secure company site or private data.
A full report of what the pen testers find and what they are able to access is provided to your company after testing is completed. This type of testing is often quite eye-opening to the companies that implement it; the ease with which professional “good-guy” hackers find company data to exploit usually leads to the development of more secure systems and processes that can thwart similar attempts by not-so-nice parties.
As high-profile data breaches continue to dominate the news cycle, it is more important than ever to ensure security across company systems. Understandably, the penetration testing market is projected to grow continuously over the next few years as companies try to safeguard their systems against existing and potential vulnerabilities.
Below are the major steps involved in pen testing so you’ll know what to expect as your company undergoes this process:
Cover Your Legal Bases
Before testing begins, set specific goals and make sure that everyone involved in testing knows the scope of the project. It is critical to go over your penetration testing agreement with your legal counsel to be sure you are giving proper permission and not creating unnecessary risk. This protects both you and the pen testers in the event they discover or gain access to sensitive information.
This first phase of penetration testing scours readily-available company information, like that contained on websites and social media profiles. Data is split into technical and non-technical specifications and chronicled. Non-technical information encompasses location and industry while technical information can include IP ranges, email addresses, and passwords.
The pen testers will then take the information gleaned during reconnaissance to come up with an attack strategy. This could include port and network scanning to discover your company’s operating systems and web servers. Based on what is discovered, the penetration tester will compile a list of your company’s specific vulnerabilities that can lead to exploitation.
From the list of vulnerabilities identified, the tester will attempt hacking techniques to break through company security. This could include remote tactics, social engineering, or any other means necessary to access secure company data. Some companies will not clue employees into the tactics in order to truly see how far penetration testers can get through avenues like calling employees.
A penetration tester will next prove that he or she was inside your company’s secure data by obtaining passwords, downloading files, taking screenshots, and more. Penetration testers will move around within company systems to show the depth of what they are able to accomplish while inside. All this evidence is eventually turned over to company decision makers.
Based on what is found, expert penetration testers will provide an action plan for your company to strengthen its systems. This plan will have a thorough explanation for all that needs to happen to bring your company to a more secure position.
The time for expert penetration testing is now. Do not wait for a hacker to exploit vulnerabilities — get ahead of your company’s weaknesses through penetration testing and start mitigating potential damage today.
Sentek Cyber is a trusted firm with a wealth of experience spanning multiple industries. We are proud to offer military-grade penetration testing and would love to find out more about your company and your specific needs. Contact us today to start a conversation.