How to Future Proof Your Information Security Strategy with PenTesting

What cyberthreats will your organization face in the next few years? Can you protect your business’s critical data? Do you know what would happen if trained hackers attempted to break into your systems?

Your organization could invest in best-of-breed security technologies such as endpoint detection, SIEM, and firewalls. Still, without a stellar cybersecurity team, those tools are reduced to confusing logs and alerts with alarming false positives. Where does one start when they get serious about their organization’s cybersecurity posture? Gain better control of your IT environment and understand what vulnerabilities lurk in your systems with managed IT security services.

An excellent starting point is to get a snapshot evaluation of your systems with pentesting. A pentest, shorthand for penetration test, is a component of a cybersecurity service called Vulnerability Assessment & Penetration Testing (VAPT). VAPT protects your organization by creating visibility into security vulnerabilities and providing guidance for correction.

Imagine a comprehensive security test designed to identify security vulnerabilities throughout an organization – its’ applications, networks, endpoints, and data in the cloud. An external penetration test is coupled with an internal assessment to identify security loopholes, avoid data breaches, and protect organization data. As cybercriminals’ tools, tactics, and procedures evolve, regularly test your organization’s IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit.

The Basic Elements of Penetration Testing

The first rule is to “think like a hacker.” Trained cybersecurity specialists analyze network environments in search of known and unknown vulnerabilities. They then try to exploit these weaknesses in codebases, endpoints, and networks.

The time and resources that go into a penetration test vary based on network complexity, network size, and the size of the cybersecurity team performing the penetration testing. It could range from a few days to several weeks for a complex environment.

PenTesting as a Component of VAPT

Two types of vulnerability testing are the vulnerability assessment along with penetration testing. Both security services focus on identifying vulnerabilities in your organization’s infrastructure.

A vulnerability assessment is a rapid, automated review of servers, systems, networks, and devices. This assessment aims to identify critical vulnerabilities and misconfiguration issues that leave the organization’s data vulnerable from within the network on internal devices.

The penetration test focuses on identifying routes or methods a hacker could use to compromise the network security and break-in. Additionally, the pentest identifies potential damage and further internal compromise that could happen once a bad actor makes it past the defenses.

The vulnerability assessment and the penetration testing allow for internal and external examination of systems while answering the question, “what can a motivated hacker do?”

Reasons for PenTesting

Common security issues in IT infrastructure uncovered through PenTesting and the VAPT process:

  • Poor hardware/software design
  • Complex hardware/software
  • Misconfigured systems
  • Gaps between security tools
  • Legacy architecture
  • Misconfigured integrations
  • Vulnerability in endpoints and end-users
  • Unsecured network access
  • Standards compliance for GDPR, ISO 2701, and PCI DSS

HIPAA Penetration Testing

HIPAA regulations require that covered entities perform a security risk analysis. When it comes to sensitive data, vulnerability scanning alone isn’t enough. Hackers are drawn to the vast amounts of personal data in healthcare records, including social security numbers and payment processing information. Healthcare organizations need to protect their systems from facilitating HIPAA compliance to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI). HIPAA penetration testing exposes healthcare vulnerabilities and enables the creation of a zero-trust environment where network access is protected and healthcare data stays secure.

DevSecOps Penetration Testing

When building a digital product, DevSecOps has enabled the integration of security measures into the development operations cycle. The adoption of DevSecOps leads to software getting released with a basic level of built-in security. Depending on its needs, an organization conducts pen tests regularly, weekly, quarterly, or annually. Often an element of automation is included in the VAPT or penetration testing component, which reduces delivery time, improves quality and security, and eliminates human error.

PCI Compliance Penetration Testing

PCI Requirement 11 is for vulnerability scans and penetration tests. PCI DSS requires two independent methods of PCI scanning, internal and external scanning. An internal vulnerability scan is performed within the network and firewall to search for internal host vulnerabilities. An external vulnerability scan is performed outside your network and identifies known weaknesses in the network structure. PCI DSS Requirement 11.3 requires that penetration testing be conducted after any significant change to the CDE system.

American Technology Services is an MSSP based in the Washington DC Metro and NYC. ATS offers VAPT, penetration testing services, and assessments for SMBs, financial institutions, government contractors, professional service firms, nonprofits, and associations.

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