Having once been the kind of high-level security measure implemented only by top-end global businesses and those handling the most sensitive data imaginable, penetration testing has over recent years become more of a prerequisite for all modern businesses. The reason for this is of course obvious – tens of thousands of new businesses setting up in cyberspace every day, which in many respects are at the risk of so many more attacks than any standard business on the High Street.
Now more than ever, it’s perfectly possible and in many instances simple for criminal gangs to have their wicked way with the businesses of their choice without ever having to leave their homes. What was once a case of physically smashing your way into a business and grabbing what you wanted to make off with is now a case of sitting by a computer and putting your hacking prowess to wholly illegitimate use. Needless to say therefore, the business that ignores all such threats is the business that invites all manner of attacks and puts its future in serious jeopardy.
What is the Value of a Penetration Test?
Because of all this, pen testing has become something of a new standard across the board though there are of course those that still aren’t fully sure as to the value and importance of the process. In the business world, any expense at all must be justified in accordance with what the business gets out of it both short and long term, so in the case of a pen test, what are the actual and quantifiable benefits that make it an investment too valuable to overlook?
Well, the overriding point is that of data security being the most important consideration of all for any modern business, though the benefits of pen testing can be broken down even further. For example, a professionally implemented pen test can help a business to:
- Find out exactly how likely it is that they will face an attack in the future and how easy it might be for the attackers to gain access.
- Identify exactly where the holes are in the existing security system in order to come up with the most effective and affordable solution for plugging them.
- Look deeper into a wider range of security issues that may not be known to the business or those currently looking after data security.
- Understand the importance of acknowledging in-house threats as well as those that come from external sources, in order to ensure that all bases are appropriately covered.
- Plan proactively by devising a worst-case-scenario contingency plan in order to generate a better understanding of the consequences of an attack
- Avoid potential legal problems by being able to demonstrate that all possible security precautions were taken – evidence of which is always required in the event of an attack.
- Understand what the business and its data look like from the point of view of a hacker, in order to determine whether it’s something of an open door welcoming attack or a target that’s protected and therefore likely to be avoided.
Without Penetration Testing
In the case of a business that doesn’t bother with penetration testing, it’s a little like securing a conventional High Street business with a barrel-bottom lock you picked up yourself and fitted yourself, having no clue whatsoever if it’s actually doing any good. Sure, you haven’t had any kinds of problems to date, but what happens the first time an attacker puts your business in the crosshairs and goes for it?
As is the case with all such crimes and incidents, it takes just one single attack to bring a business to its knees and do irreparable damage. When you think back to the tens of millions of dollars of damage caused by the Microsoft and Sony hacking attacks of 2014, you get a good idea of what these hacker groups are capable of when and where there’s the slightest gap in the security chain. So, if you’re arming yourself with nothing but a basic lock, you’ve only got yourself to blame when things go wrong.
The simple fact of the matter is that tests of penetrability are not expensive and nor do they have to bring any real disruption to the business. Nevertheless, what you’re left with is pure gold – a genuine and realistic insight into what a hacker may be able to do were they to target your business. It’s a case of swapping theory for facts – the kinds of facts that could potentially save your business from an early demise.