In this article Curatrix Technologies provide the answer to the question, ‘Why is penetration testing important?’
Penetration Testing and Why it is needed
Penetration testing is a form of offensive security aimed at finding weaknesses in computer systems and networks. This is done by identifying exploitable vulnerabilities (the risk that an attacker can disrupt or gain authorised access to the system or any data contained within it). Penetration testing involves physical and digital intrusion techniques. These are used to identify these weaknesses, simulating a cyberattack on core systems. This has the additional challenge of not damaging the functionality of those target systems, unlike malicious actors.
To avoid accidental damage, our penetration team at Curatrix Technologies take multiple precautions in limiting any negative impacts that may occur from the network intrusion. The end goal of a penetration test is to gain access to unapproved or privileged areas of a system while avoiding or breaking through security controls and restrictions.
Most penetration tests are organised into stages:
- Planning and Reconnaissance: The gathering of intelligence of and surrounding the target.
- Scanning: The identification of vulnerabilities by software such as network scanners.
- Gaining Access: Through exploitation of identified vulnerabilities.
- Maintaining Access: Maintaining the exploit for further
- Analysis and Reporting: Details the depth of the intrusion, which and reports the identified vulnerabilities, how they were exploited and what parts of the system were affected.
Penetration tests make use of software tools and physical techniques. Common software tools include both dynamic code analysis (The method of debugging an application’s source code while the application is still in use) and static code analysis (where the source code is examined to detect potential security vulnerabilities) tools. A common physical technique is social engineering, the act of manipulating people into giving physical access to normally unauthorised areas, such as opening a door for them to avoid a credentials check or giving confidential information such as an admin account or a password by exploiting human trust.
Penetration testing is needed to ensure that security systems are secure. The tests simulate attacks and find weaknesses that would otherwise be exploited by malicious actors such as hackers. These simulations not only identify weaknesses but also test and estimate the defence capabilities of the network, applications, endpoints, surveillance, and physical defences such as locks and cameras from internal and external sources.
Penetration testing helps organisations avoid data breaches, data blackmail and non-compliance fines. Additionally, regular penetration tests encourage trust with business partners as it demonstrates security awareness and due diligence. Additionally, suffering a security breach damages an organisations reputation and the recovery period can include reduced productivity, loss in daily revenue, legal activities, and damaged business relations.