What Is Penetration Testing and Why Is It Important?

How effective is your current security system against a real-world targeted attack?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would your data be of use to your competitors?
  • Would your company survive if a cyber-criminal extracted sensitive information and held it for ransom?
  • Could you continue to run your business if your systems were compromised?

It’s no longer enough to put security tools into place and hope for the best.

One of the most important tools that companies can use to defend themselves from cyber attacks is that of penetration testing.

What is a penetration test?

A penetration test (also known as a pen test) is an authorised hacking attempt that simulates real-world attack techniques used by a criminal hacker.

Even with the most advanced cyber-security protection technologies in place, it’s the “blind-spot” vulnerabilities that can expose your business.

Penetration testing is an external security check compared with vulnerability assessments which are an internal security check. An impartial third-party will test the strength and integrity of your security for all your web exposed elements including:

  • IP addresses
  • Websites
  • Infrastructure

No security system is guaranteed to be impenetrable but hopefully, yours is strong enough to deter cyber-criminals.

Why is a penetration test important?

The goal of a professional or amateur hacker is to steal information from your business. They may be after money or to simply sabotage your company.

The benefits of penetration testing are numerous. Here are a few.

1. It provides an independent perspective on your security.

It is often the case that those businesses that have internal IT teams never get a second opinion. However, the issue with not getting a second opinion is that you can be left with the “blind-spots” mentioned earlier. A fresh pair of eyes will reveal vulnerabilities that are overlooked.

2. It will save you money.

Avoiding the financial costs and damage to your brand equity that can result from having your systems compromised. According to a survey by Webroot in 2017, Australian businesses that employ between 100-500 employees can expect to shell out approximately $1.9 million if hit by a cyber-attack.

3. It will help you comply with Australia’s data breach laws.

In February 2018, a Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme was introduced to regulate entities about eligible data breaches.

By conducting a penetration test, you will be ensuring your company is in full compliance with the new data breach notification laws.

4. You will proactively improve your organisations IT systems against malicious attacks.

According to Norton, over half a million small businesses in Australia fell victim to cybercrime in 2017. 

It’s no longer enough for businesses to do the bare minimum when it comes to security. By completing a penetration test, you will receive a report that highlights where your defences are weakest. This way you can channel funds to areas most required.

5. You may be able to detect vulnerabilities automated scanning software can’t.

While a penetration test may involve the use of automated tools, the focus is ultimately on the individual or team of testers and the experience they bring to the test in the context of an attack on your organisation.

How often should penetration tests be conducted?

It’s recommended that you conduct a pen test approximately every 6-12 months, or each time you make modifications to your network infrastructure. Ongoing testing is the most effective.

With so much at stake, it’s good business sense to protect your business. Contact us today to chat about how we can help.

For more information on penetration testing, click here.

Security & Networking