Why are penetration tests being conducted? No matter if a business opts to use an internal team, hire outside experts, or use a combination of the two, is the goal to satisfy audit requirements, or to improve enterprise security?
Knowing why the company is performing the pentesting is essential; however, there are also steps that must be taken to ensure the process is successful. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of penetration testing here.
Define the Goals of the Process
Penetration testing, essentially any information security activity, focuses on protecting the business or organization. During the test, someone inside the business (or someone hired by the business) will take on the role of the attacker to uncover any vulnerabilities and exploit them to figure out what risks the business is exposed to. Once complete, the tester will make recommendations to improve security based on the findings.
Remember, attackers are trying to steal data and the techniques they use are a means to an end. This means that penetration testing isn’t about the unusual things that can be done to exploit a vulnerability, but it’s about discovering a business’s weakest points.
Penetration is also a good way to determine how well the security technologies, controls, and policies are really working. The business is likely investing a lot of money in securing endpoints, patching systems, and making products, there’s no need to let a single hacker make all this for nothing. With a pen tester, the problems are found and fixed before a hacker can exploit them.
Follow the Data
Most organizations have limited resources and a limited budget for pentesting. It’s impossible to conduct this testing across the entire IT infrastructure that spans hundreds or even thousands of devices; however, pen testers may be told to try to compromise devices across various IP addresses. The results of this are likely to be cursory and provide little or no value. It’s also not possible to conduct vulnerability scans or remediate flaws across many devices in a short amount of time for a limited investment.
To determine what needs to be tested, figure out what needs to be protected. What type of critical data is most at risk? Where is the information kept? By narrowing down the scope of what needs to be tested, a business owner can feel confident that the testing process will actually safeguard their data, without costing more for tests that are, ultimately, of no value.
Data discovery is typically the main goal in penetration testing. As a result, it’s crucial for businesses to make this clear to the person or team put in charge of the process. Understanding the goal of the pen test and following the data can help ensure the information and vulnerabilities are found and that steps are taken to mitigate them to ensure that nefarious individuals don’t take advantage of these weaknesses, which is a real possibility without regular penetration testing.