Penetration testing, also known as pen testing or ethical hacking, is a process used to evaluate the security of a computer system or network. Pen testers attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in order to gain access to sensitive data or systems.
When to Use a Pen Test
Organizations use penetration tests to ensure that their systems are secure and to identify any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers.
If you’re not sure whether your business needs penetration testing, there are a few factors to consider.
What Industry is Your Business In?
Certain industries are subject to more stringent security requirements than others. For example, businesses that handle personal health information (PHI) must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). PCI DSS compliance is required for businesses that process credit card payments.
What Type of Data Do You Work With?
The type of data your business collects, stores, and transmits also play a role in determining whether penetration testing is necessary. If your business deals with sensitive customer data, such as social security numbers or financial information, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure that this data is protected.
How Connected is Your Network?
If your business has a lot of devices and users accessing the network, there’s a greater chance that someone will be able to exploit a vulnerability. On the other hand, if your network is more isolated, there’s less of a chance that an attacker will be able to gain access.
4 Steps to Pen Testing
No matter how thorough a penetration test may be, there is always the possibility that a skilled hacker will be able to find and exploit a vulnerability that was not discovered during the test.
Penetration tests can be conducted internally by an organization’s own security staff, or they can be performed by external vendors. Regardless of who conducts the test, there are four main steps involved in a typical penetration test:
A Valuable Tool
Penetration testing can be a valuable tool for improving the security of an organization’s systems, but it is important to remember that it is not foolproof. Even the most thorough tests may fail to identify all potential vulnerabilities. As such, it is important to supplement penetration testing with other security measures such as intrusion detection and prevention systems.