A penetration test, also known as a pen test, is a simulated cyberattack against your information technology (IT) infrastructure. Many companies gather insights using penetration testing in order to fine-tune their web application firewall (WAF) security protocols. They also use these tests to uncover hidden vulnerabilities before threat actors do.
Penetration tests are important in today’s digital environment as new challenges face modern network security. We’ll explore Cyber Defense Group (CDG)’s unique approach to penetration testing, and how organizations can best be prepared for an attack.
Why Is It Critical To Perform a Penetration Test?
Penetration tests provide many benefits, including the ability to fine-tune existing security protocols. Here are the main reasons why you should consider penetration testing for your company:
Fine-tune existing WAF security protocols: Even the strongest firewalls have exploitable gaps. Penetration tests can help you spot and fix vulnerabilities and build a stronger firewall to protect company and customer data.
Maintain compliance requirements: Ideally, every business should adopt regular penetration testing practices. However, it’s a must for companies that are required to comply with regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Companies that wish to remain compliant with these standards must perform pen tests every year and whenever they make significant changes to network infrastructure.
Spot hidden vulnerabilities before hackers do: External breaches can be prevented by performing pen tests. These tests show you exactly where your vulnerabilities are and how you can fix these issues before hackers exploit them.
Evaluate response and monitoring effectiveness: Pen tests empower cybersecurity teams to observe security incidents unfolding in real-time. In particular, they can evaluate whether the cybersecurity team was able to:
- Detect malicious activity
- Contain and neutralize threats
- Use established security and communication protocols to alert the company that an attack had occurred
- Have other departments immediately respond and follow their alerts
Vulnerability Scanning vs. Penetration Testing
Keeping your network safe and secure around the clock is easier said than done, especially in today’s dangerous online environment. It’s especially difficult if you’re not sure which threats await you.
To give you a better idea of what you’re up against, here are a few of the top challenges facing modern network security:
1. Rising Cybercrime
Cyberattacks have become increasingly common as more companies shift online. According to Check Point Software’s 2022 Security Report, cyberattacks against corporate networks exploded by 50% in 2021 compared to 2020. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report has also revealed that:
- Ransomware attacks have risen by 13%
- 82% of cybersecurity breaches involve human elements such as errors, social attacks, and misuse
- 62% of system intrusion incidents involve threat actors compromising partners
2. Talent Gap
In addition to rising cybercrime, there’s also not enough cybersecurity talent to go around. According to ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity 2022 Report, 50% of teams say cybersecurity applicants are underqualified. This gap will continue to grow as cyberattacks become increasingly complex.
3. Increased Attack Surfaces
As companies adopt more connected technologies, network attack surfaces have expanded. IT teams now have more endpoints and vulnerabilities to manage than ever.
How To Perform Penetration Testing on a Network
As you can see, there are many challenges facing modern network security. That’s why hiring an experienced cybersecurity consulting company for regular pen test services provides significant value. The right consulting company will perform pen testing services in five stages:
The company begins by defining the scope and goals of the pen test. It will also gather domain names, mail servers, and other data to understand how the target system works.
Next, the company will analyze how the target system will respond to intrusion attempts.
3. Gaining Access
Then, the company will use web application attacks, such as backdoors and SQL injection, to spot a target’s vulnerabilities. Company testers will try to exploit these vulnerabilities by stealing data, escalating privileges, and intercepting traffic to see how much damage they can cause.
4. Maintaining Access
The consulting company will imitate advanced persistent threats to see if the vulnerabilities can be exploited over the long term.
The results of the pen test will then be compiled into a report showing:
- Which data was accessed
- The vulnerabilities that were exploited
- How long pen testers could remain in the system undetected
You can then use this report to strengthen your security protocols and practices.
How CDG Approaches Penetration Testing
CGD has a client-centric approach to penetration testing. We will attempt to breach your system in the same manner a cybercriminal would in an effort to spot vulnerabilities and gaps that may exist in services and application flaws, operating systems, improper configurations, and more.
A variety of pen tests can include:
- Black box tests, wherein we have no access or knowledge of the system prior to the test
- White or glass box tests, wherein we have full access and knowledge of the network, code, and environment before the test
What To Expect After Your Pen Test
Once we’ve finished our penetration test, we will compile the results of the test into a detailed report that shows:
Our testing methodology, including which tests were conducted and how they were performed;
- The risk level of each vulnerability in your system;
- Possible consequences of a breach; and
- Personalized recommendations for your security framework
- You can then use this report to refine and reshape your cybersecurity strategy.
Interested in partnering with CGD? Contact us today to learn more about network penetration testing services, and how to best defend your organization.