As hackers become more skilled and sophisticated, it puts the onus of business owners to ensure that their cybersecurity systems can protect against threats. One of the most important tools that companies can use to defend themselves is that of penetration testing. In penetration testing, a cybersecurity professional utilizes the same techniques as a criminal hacker to gain access to your IT systems. They use any method that a criminal might use such as password cracking, viruses or even social engineering.
Make sure you work with a CREST accredited penetration tester who is experienced in all forms of penetration testing. They will then attempt to break into your system. From the information that they provide, you can then update your system so that it is protected against these sorts of attack from real hackers.
Not sure if penetration testing is right for you? Here are six reasons that you need to invest in penetration testing to keep your business secure through 2018.
It Exposes Your Weaknesses Before Real Hackers Do
Undoubtedly the most valuable aspect of penetration testing is that it puts your cybersecurity through the same stresses as a real hacking attempt and therefore it exposes the weaknesses in your system. But having a controlled cybersecurity professional hack into your system means that instead of your learning through a costly real attack, the errors can be put right before a malicious hacker attempts to get into your system.
A penetration tester who breaks into your system won’t actually steal the data or money that they have access to – they will provide you with all of the details on how they were able to do it and what could have been done to stop them. There is no doubt that businesses can learn from their mistakes, but in this instance it is far more valuable to learn from a simulated attack rather than a real one.
It Can Reveal Which Areas of Security You Need to Invest In
Worrying statistics indicate that over 50 percent of small businesses suffer a cyber-attack, and of those that are attacked, as many as 60 percent go out of business within six months. This makes it clear that it is no longer enough for businesses to do the bare minimum and hope that they won’t be targeted by hackers; you can’t simply install anti-virus software and a firewall, and assume that your business will be secure.
Through 2018, you need to be invested in upgrading your cybersecurity and defences. But how do you know where to invest? This is where penetration testing can be so useful. Having revealed where you defences are weakest, you can then spend your money the right way to ensure that you are genuinely protected.
It may be the case that your system is more than adequate to defend against threats, but during penetration testing you are let down by staff opening phishing emails or using passwords that are too simple. This would show that you need to invest in training to educate them the dangers out there.
It Provides an Outsider Perspective on Your Security
It is often the case for business that run their cybersecurity and computer systems in house that they never get a second opinion. Many business owners trust their IT professionals to be putting in place a strong system that is as free from weaknesses as possible. But the problem with never getting a second expert opinion is that you can be left with blind spots.
Naturally, the person in charge of cybersecurity defences can make mistakes just like anyone else, so it is important to have the penetration test to get an outside perspective on your system.
It Will Save You Money
While it might sound counter-intuitive, spending money on penetration testing services in 2018 will actually save your business a significant amount of money. Penetration testing highlights the areas of greatest weakness which informs you where to most effectively spend your cybersecurity budget. Without penetration testing to guide you, it would be necessary to spend more money across a wider range of aspects.
But it’s also worth noting that penetration testing can save you money in the long run. Aside from the threat of fines from governing bodies if you fail to protect customer data, you can also suffer from a loss of trust in your customers after a breach has occurred. If you can use the penetration testing to fix any potential problems, you won’t have to worry about the huge expense of a future breach.
It Simulates a Real Attack Scenario
In principle, if you have invested in strong cyber-defences, you should be protected from hackers. But that can lead to complacency and overconfidence: if you never simulate a cyber-attack, how will you know how your system will stand up in practice? The truth is that it is extremely rare that systems are infallible, and sophisticated hackers and constantly looking for new ways to break down defences.
If you simply assume that your cybersecurity will hold out against any threat, you can overlook serious defects and problems. Penetration testing simulates exactly what would happen in a real, skilled attack on your system – there is simply no substitute for this sort of testing. And it is always better to have cybersecurity professionals defeat your defences than a malicious hacker.
It Will Help You to Comply With GDPR
It’s important to note that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force in May 2018. This is a regulation that will affect any company that does business within the EU or with its citizens, so it is vital that you are prepared for it. One of the major aspects of the GDPR is the businesses that are hacked and lose personal data as a result of poor cybersecurity can face much larger penalties and fines.
Having a penetration test to expose your weakness so that you can ultimately fix them can help ensure that you are properly prepared for GDPR, and other data protection or privacy regulations.
Choose Penetration Testing in 2018
Across 2018 every company from small start-ups to international businesses can benefit from investing in penetration testing. The dangers from highly sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals mean that you cannot afford to be complacent with your cybersecurity. When you consider the complicating factors like the incoming GDPR rules and the need for companies to be more fastidious with privacy and data protection, it has never been more important to feel completely confident in your defences. Work with an experienced team of penetration testers to help you improve your system.
About the Author
Mike James is an independent writer, tech specialist and cybersecurity expert based in Brighton, UK. Published in many of the leading online and print magazines, he is a featured writer on Ethical Hacking, Penetration Testing - and how best these technologies can be implemented to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Mike often works with Redscan, a leading supplier of cybersecurity in the UK as well as a number of other companies. Also writes about the odd recipe and exercise regime, when not on the heavy geeky stuff!
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign