If there’s one thing that everyone knows about cybersecurity, it’s that your network needs to have antivirus software and a firewall in order to defend against malware and intrusions. To a certain degree, of course, you’d be correct: these two solutions will go a long way in shielding your network against hostile actors.
Unfortunately, far too many organizations stop right there, assuming that they’ve done all they can to bolster their cybersecurity efforts. However, even if you’re working with an third-party vendor or provider to handle your IT security, you might still have major gaps . Here’s an idea of what kind of threats you might be up against—and what you can do to protect yourself.
While IT security threats, such as phishing attacks and ransomware, have dominated headlines, your organization might be falling prey to a far more insidious hazard. Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are attacks targeting a specific network that occur over a longer period of time. Like sneaking into a store after hours to pull off a burglary, APTs require careful planning, stealth and a high degree of technical knowledge—exactly what makes them so dangerous.
APTs work by first gaining access through a vulnerability in the network and then creating other weaknesses that allow the attack to continue if any single vulnerability is patched. The malicious actor then installs malware on the network that can carry out data exfiltration, which continues as long as the intrusion remains undetected.
Unfortunately, traditional cybersecurity solutions, such as firewalls and antivirus software, are helpless in the face of an APT. What’s more, even giant organizations at the cutting edge of IT security, including Google and the U.S. government, have been the victims of APTs, resulting in the devastating loss of intellectual property and classified information.
If reading about APTs makes you worry about the state of your own network, you certainly have cause for concern. According to a recent survey, 46 percent of organizations took more than four months to discover a data breach into their network, and 70 percent of data breaches were ultimately found by a third party instead of the organization itself.
In this day and age, having an external, objective entity take a look into your cyber defenses and practices is a vital part of IT security. It’s not surprising, then, that more and more businesses are turning to vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) as a way to assess the health of their network.
As the name suggests, VAPT consists of two separate procedures. A vulnerability assessment provides information about the breadth of security flaws that are present in your network by classifying the various holes and issues that are found, as well as possible remediation and mitigation strategies. Penetration testing, on the other hand, assesses the depth and severity of a given vulnerability by attempting to exploit and breach an organization’s IT defenses.
The price tag for a VAPT event can differ depending on the size and complexity of your network and the various methodologies used. However, the cost of VAPT is typically insignificant compared to the damage that a data breach can create for your organization. Just last year, for example, Home Depot agreed to pay nearly $20 million as part of a settlement after a massive breach exposed its customers’ credit card information—not to mention the immeasurable effects in terms of lost business and sinking stock prices.
In order to give your business the IT security protection that it needs and deserves, conducting VAPT events at regular intervals must be part of your organization’s cybersecurity posture. Click here to learn more.