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Six Reasons to Conduct a Penetration Test

Six reasons to conduct a Penetration Test
Author: Secora Consulting

Secora Consulting was set up to assist you with your cyber security requirements. We understand the challenges of security testing and keeping your business secure. Our goal is to improve your cyber security operations, providing peace of mind in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

A penetration test, commonly known as a pen test, is an authorised and co-ordinated simulated attack on an organisation’s network and infrastructure. Penetration tests involve experienced security consultants actively attempting to penetrate and exploit your organisation’s assets.

Many companies are new to penetration testing and may wonder,’ what are the main reasons organisations conduct a penetration test?’. In this blog, we have highlighted what we believe to be the six core reasons an organisation should have a penetration test carried out on its infrastructure.

To Understand and Manage Vulnerabilities

Organisations often conduct penetration tests to gain a greater understanding of what vulnerabilities exist within their network. Before any organisation can begin to implement effective security controls, they need to know what risks they are currently exposed to and the impact these risks could have on their network.

As each organisation is different, high quality testing companies will tailor each security assessment to meet your requirements. Using experience, they will expose your organisation to real-world attack vectors, eliminating any impact this will have on your systems. Using experience, they will safely expose your organisations to real-world attack vectors replicating hackers. Unlike hackers, they will not cause user issues or cause outages to your systems. Penetration tests are designed to provide you with a detailed analysis of whether your infrastructure can be breached and if sensitive information can be retrieved. Reports include detailed explanations of all issues identified to ensure an in-depth understanding of the vulnerabilities and how their risk affects your organisation.

Prioritise and Tackle Risks Based on the Level of Exposure.

To complete any task, you need to have a plan or strategy in place. Carrying out remediation work to remove issues from your infrastructure is no different. To ensure this is done effectively, there needs to be a plan.

Penetration tests should be carried out by professional and experienced security consultants. Remediation advice should be contained within their reports and also provide guidance on the best approach to removing any vulnerabilities uncovered so your team can use their time effectively.

Gain Further Support and Investment in Cyber Security from Senior Management

Cyber security is starting to be recognised by senior management as a serious issue. Many organisations are now beginning to discuss cyber security at senior management and board-level. However, there can still be a reluctance to allocate additional budget to effectively tackle the issue. By highlighting the risks and showing the business impact of a breach, it becomes easier to build a case for additional investment in cyber security.

Reports following a penetration test should help to put the issues found into context. This could take the form of a business impact assessment or a management summary. This details how the issues found during a penetration test will affect the day-to-day operations of your company and any impact on profitability.

Validate new security controls

Organisations often spend vast amounts of time implementing numerous security controls and procedures. Conducting a professional penetration test will validate that the security controls in place are working.

A good quality penetration test will help you understand your threat landscape to ensure any controls and policies are effective, without being too restrictive and will ultimately increase the cybersecurity posture of your organisation.

Prepare for upcoming audits

Many organisations carry out penetration tests for their peace of mind. However, some organisations’ motives for a penetration test can be driven by external factors. These factors typically include preparing for upcoming external audits such as those required by a supplier.

With proof of cybersecurity policies and procedures beginning to feature more frequently in new supplier forms, organisations are turning to penetration tests to prove to suppliers that they are secure. Having a third party carry out an impartial test on your organisation’s security controls is the best way to provide your clients with peace of mind.

For example, in Ireland, Credit Unions are audited annually by the Central Bank. One element of this audit is to review the measures all Irish Credit Unions are taking to reduce their risk of a breach. Having annual penetration tests carried out by independent, competent specialists to identify any risks within a network is viewed as best practice.

Comply with recognised regulations and standards

Many organisations operate in heavily regulated industries such as insurance and finance. To meet these regulations, many organisations decide to implement and adhere to globally recognised standards such as PCI DSS, ISO 27001, or SOC.

With these standards, there are requirements for undertaking penetration testing. Often, it is required that any issues uncovered are remediated within a timeframe, a penetration test by a professional consultancy, can help you build a road map to help plan remediation efforts to meet compliance.

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