How to Improve Your IT Security With Regular Penetration Testing

person typing on laptop with floating and glowing shield and lock icon in front of the screen, illustrating security.Maintaining the strongest possible defenses against cybercrime has become an ongoing challenge and top priority for all kinds of businesses as hackers continue to successfully breach corporate networks at an alarming rate. In the first six months of 2019 alone, there were 3,813 reported breaches that exposed more than 4.1 billion records, according to a report from RiskBased Security. That’s a 54 percent increase from the first half of 2018.

That’s only one of many scary statistics on the state of cybercrime these days. With malicious actors releasing new kinds of malware every day and constantly cooking up new tactics for accessing private data, it’s imperative that business leaders invest in cybersecurity and maintain a comprehensive and proactive approach to safeguarding their IT environments.

One security solution that can help your organization stop hackers from getting their hands on private data is penetration testing, also known as pen testing or ethical hacking, according to TechTarget SearchSecurity. A pen test is essentially a simulated cyberattack against a specific aspect of your IT environment.

Basically, a pen test is a way to check whether the security solutions and defenses you have in place actually work when someone tries to get around them. This is essential for any organization looking to achieve the best possible security posture. It’s also required to achieve compliance with industry-specific regulations, such as SOC 2, PCI DSS and HIPAA

The Pen Testing Process: What to Expect

To carry out a penetration test, an ethical hacker/cybersecurity professional will attempt to infiltrate a particular part of your network. Because pen tests require advanced hacking skills, you’ll want to work with a third-party provider that’s capable of safely and effectively executing the procedure. Additionally, Cisco advises consulting with experts before beginning pen testing to make sure your network isn’t damaged in the process.

Although you’re checking your IT environment for weak points, it’s also important to note that a pen test is distinct from a general vulnerability scan in that it is a simulated attack on a specific facet of your network. This blog entry offers a detailed explanation of the difference between the two IT security tools, if you’re interested in learning more.

There are various types of penetration tests, depending on your objectives and which part of your network you’d like to check for weaknesses. Here are some of the different kinds of pen tests available:

  • External
  • Internal
  • Wi-Fi
  • On-site physical
  • Application

Once the testing is complete, you’ll receive an overall grade as well as a “call to action” list detailing any items you need to address to improve your security posture.

Maximizing Your ROI for Pen Tests

To get the most out of this cybersecurity tool/process, follow these recommendations.

1. Address any issues identified by the testers as soon as possible after the procedure, and then re-test 45 to 90 days later to make sure you fixed everything properly. Don’t introduce any new tech during this time.

2. Conduct pen tests on a regular basis. That means carrying one out at least once annually, or whenever you make changes to your IT environment or alter your approach to security.

Businesses that have compliance-related or other regulatory requirements typically need yearly reviews. Some industries highly recommend annual tests. For industries that don’t require that but have a security-first mindset, businesses should utilize a pen test to benchmark their environment, as it might open their eyes to areas of weakness. Ongoing vulnerability scans are another way, at a less expensive pricing point, that businesses can keep an eye on some major gaps.

3. Invest in maintaining a current IT security road map, as well as stringent security controls.

Should You Change Up Your Provider?

Changing your pen test provider routinely is a MUST! Each vendor has different philosophies and leverages different methodologies when attempting to breach your network. You typically will find different action items with different providers. There are many reasons for this. For instance, some pen testers are more skilled, and each supplier utilizes different tools.

Let Us Help You Find the Right Pen Test Supplier

There are numerous IT solution vendors out there that offer penetration testing. It can be extremely time-consuming to sift through them all to find the one that makes the most sense for your business, but you can simplify the process by letting our team of technology advisors tackle the shopping around for you for free.

We’ve already scrutinized the market, selected the best suppliers and created a comparison matrix showing how the top 15 penetration testing providers stack up against each other. Free of charge, we can give you this matrix and all the information you need to select the right pen test vendor for you at the best possible price. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to contact our team today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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