Cyber SecuritySeven Reasons Why You Need Penetration Testing
Published: Sep 15, 2021
By: Herm Cardona
If your company hasn’t already had a cyber attack, you should assume it will. It is more a question of “when” rather than “if.” Regular penetration testing can find and eliminate cyber security vulnerabilities, thwarting attacks before they happen.
Human error from within is the primary cause of security breaches. A small percentage of internal security breaches are malicious attacks. But the majority are caused by lack of awareness (such as opening a phishing email) or inattention to details (such as not properly locking down access throughout your systems).
Threat actors are lurking everywhere, injecting malicious code and encrypting or stealing data. They are constantly testing everything, and working very hard to find open doors into any system they can. When an experienced cyber security team conducts penetration testing on your systems, they will identify the same vulnerabilities, and show you how to fix them, before the bad guys get in.
#1 – Penetration Testing Discovers Vulnerabilities in Your System Before You’re Attacked
Your systems and infrastructure probably have vulnerabilities you don’t know about. Threat actors are actively scanning for them. If they find them before you do, you are likely to become a victim of a cyber attack.
Having a penetration test performed by cyber security experts enables you to find out where you have security lapses, gaps, and weaknesses. Penetration testing uncovers any potential areas in your systems and architecture that open the door to a cyber attack. This gives you a chance to fix the problems before they become bigger problems.
#2 – Penetration Testing Saves You Money
A cyber attack will cost you a lot. The average cost for a single breached record is $180. So if you have 10,000 records, a breach could cost you nearly $2 million. And that’s just the beginning.
You may also face significant financial penalties if you are not compliant with the regulations/standards for your industry. If customer personally identifiable information (PII) records are compromised, you will very likely be sued. Not only will your company have hefty legal bills, but if the court finds you negligent, you will have to pay a substantial settlement to your customers.
On top of this, you can’t make money while you are recovering from a cyber attack. It is estimated that the minimum amount of time you will spend recovering from a cyber attack is 18 hours. However, it is not uncommon for cyber attack recovery to stretch into days, weeks, or months. Every minute that you are down results in lost opportunities and lost revenue.
Routine penetration testing will help you avoid these kinds of losses because it will find and help you eliminate network, system, application, and data vulnerabilities that make cyber attacks possible.
#3 – Penetration Testing Enables You to Establish Detailed and Proven Security Measures
Penetration testing will reveal security weaknesses in your systems, applications, data, and devices. The penetration testing report will show you areas where the same kind of security flaws repeatedly occur (such as opening up strange emails, using easy passwords, granting too much access to critical data, poor coding techniques, etc.). This can help you establish procedures to eliminate them.
Once these security measures are implemented, they become a routine part of your internal security policies and procedures going forward. However, it’s important to remember that the security measures you have in place are only as current as your last penetration test. If you make major changes to your systems, applications, and devices after the penetration test, you should have another penetration test performed because you may have introduced new security vulnerabilities.
#4 – Penetration Testing Can Ensure Compliance with Regulations or Standards
Security standards and regulations are in effect for almost every industry now. Penetration testing can help ensure that your company is in complete compliance with the applicable security regulations for your industry. This will prevent you from having to pay steep fines for non-compliance. It will also ensure that you do not lose partnership opportunities with other companies because you can’t provide proof that you are in compliance.
#5 – Penetration Testing Can Help Prevent Loss of Trust and Reputation
Not all losses from cyber attacks are financial. In fact, the most costly losses are often to a company’s reputation. Monetary losses can be reversed with time, but loss of trust and reputation are very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. If a cyber attack succeeds, you will likely lose existing customers and will have difficulty attracting new customers. If the losses are extensive enough, your company may go out of business.
Penetration testing will protect the trust your customers have placed in you to secure and protect their information. It will also protect your company’s reputation. This will keep your current customers satisfied and help to assure future customers.
#6 – Penetration Testing Prioritizes Risks and Remediation
Penetration testing will reveal the vulnerable areas of your systems, applications, devices, and data. You can use the results of the penetration test to determine which vulnerabilities should be fixed first.
Risks are prioritized by severity (the impact to your business if they are exploited), as well as by the breadth and complexity of remediation. Your penetration tester will review with you the results of the test, and will recommend how to go about remediation in priority order.
#7 – Penetration Testing Provides Reassurance for Your Executive Team
Your company’s executive team needs to know how secure the company is from a cyber attack. Penetration tests should be a fundamental component of your security program, helping to establish a true understanding of your company’s security profile.
It is wise to have penetration testing done on a regular basis (yearly in most cases), and when you add to or upgrade your systems or architecture. Doing so will give you insights into the kind of cyber threats that could affect your network security. You will also be able to clearly see any vulnerabilities that exist and you will get in-depth feedback on how to resolve them.
Penetration testing safely tests how resistant your systems and architecture are to external hacking attempts by simulating how threat actors might attempt to exploit vulnerabilities caused by operational weaknesses, out-of-date security policies, insecure settings, poor passwords, coding mistakes, software bugs, configuration errors, and more.
Penetration testing reports include risk assessments for architecture, web applications, APIs, and social engineering, and recommendations for security measures that your company should take to be fully protected against a cyber attack.