Penetration testing is a primary means for an organization to test its security stature and readiness to combat cyberattacks. So, when firms are looking for a cyber security solution that will protect their network, they should be prepared to respond to whatever these attacks target, thus it needs to test it rigorously. Penetration testing is a common part of deploying a new tool for cyber security and it helps in identifying weaknesses in a firm’s defense system. This holds true for AI-based cyber security solutions, as they have tremendously grown over the passage of time. Thus, businesses look for a penetration testing company to prevent future breaches by identifying weaknesses in their systems. 

The history of penetration testing or ethical hacking exists since the 1970s, where the U.S military and RAND Corp used tiger teams to test the ability of computer networks against attacks. However, penetration tests today, are available in the form of a standardized service, it includes discovery scans, vulnerability scans and limits the attempts to exploit the discovered vulnerabilities. Although the traditional techniques still continue to be available in the market, yet penetration testers are utilizing new and improved methods of testing defenses, including new attack techniques, capturing the flags, and bug bounty programs. 

5 Major Benefits of Performing Penetration Tests:

Following are a few major benefits that organizations can achieve by leveraging penetration testing efforts:

Identify High-risk Vulnerabilities:

With the help of penetration tests, organizations can identify high-risk vulnerabilities that are often left undetected with an automated network or app vulnerability scan. It is a type of test that allows a realistic approach to measuring the actual risks to their systems. Vulnerability scanning can help is spotting some weaknesses but ethical hackers have access to the networks and systems that might not be compatible with scanning and can use a manual process to verify the extent to which these weaknesses can be exploited. 

The Ability of the Defensive Tools:

Pen-test can help organizations in assessing their ability to detect and respond to attacks successfully. It is a technique to test and gauge the ability of defensive tools to respond to potential attacks. The efficiency of tools like antivirus, intrusion detection systems, and firewalls is defined when organizations are able to use them to stop malware and attacks.

Investment in Security Programs:

Testing is conducted to support investment in security program initiatives, technology, etc. So, firms hire a penetration testing company to perform pen tests and assess the effectiveness of these security investments. They perform an initial or complete evaluation of the defensive strength of a system, or if they should perform tests before the budget is being set for a new project. 

Prevention of Future Incidents:

Pen-tests also help organizations in preventing future incidents, by detecting weaknesses before they can be exploited by attackers. These tests help organizations prevent potential breaches. Vulnerability scans are not designed to uncover weaknesses beyond software vulnerabilities. Thus, can help them in improving their security posture and if a firm is ready for an attack, it is easier to remediate it. 

Compliance with Standards:

Penetration tests also allow organizations to meet compliance standards such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), HIPPA, 201 CMR 17.00, etc. 

Red Teams

Organizations that have more advanced techniques are using red teaming to simulate attacks on their cyber systems. A red team exercises a more in-depth penetration test. They are required to simulate cyber-attacks in more depth as compared to a pen-test, without a limited scope. 

Bug Bounty Programs 

Another way for organizations to test and strengthen their cyber-defenses is by using bug bounty programs. These programs are used to offer compensation to the white hat hackers for reporting bugs, exploits, or vulnerabilities on their systems. This helps an organization in patching them before they can be exploited by malicious attackers. 

Capturing the Flag 

Some organizations also make a choice to convert their pen-testing into a type of competition, by placing a flag in a secure location on their network. Pen testers are supposed to access this file or capture the flag, by any means. While, there is a Blue team, also known as the incident response team that is evaluated during a simulated attack, testing their ability to detect and respond to an attack. This allows penetration testers to their capabilities in a realistic manner, focusing on the protection of sensitive data rather than the entire network. 

Posted by Miley Dowling

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