A network infrastructure is only as secure as its weakest link. To assess vulnerabilities across a complex network environment, sophisticated tools are required. A network penetration test is an important part of any comprehensive security assessment, as it’s one that can identify vulnerabilities such as application flaws, poorly configured devices and risky user behavior. From there, your IT team can take proactive steps to mitigate risk and improve its overall security posture.
How Does Penetration Testing Work?
Penetration testing is often confused with other types of network security assessments, such as vulnerability scanning or compliance auditing. What differentiates penetration testing from these services is that, rather than being purely theoretical, it actively tests your network to determine where weaknesses lie and what happens when they are exploited. As a result, a pen test can have far greater real world value than other forms of security assessment.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of penetration testing for businesses: external and internal. External penetration testing is the more traditional form, in which a malicious outside attack is simulated. This allows you determine the specific risks posed by your network configuration, such as an exposed server or a compromised database. Internal penetration testing, on the other hand, focuses on the potential for an insider attack. It helps assess the resilience of your systems as well as your ability to respond when a breach occurs.
What Are the Benefits?
Both types of penetration testing solutions are designed to identify the combination of hardware, software and procedural weaknesses that put your sensitive data at risk. As a result, they allow you to:
- Stay compliant with industry regulations, such as SEC, PCI-DSS, FISMA and other standards. This reduces the risk of fines, reputational damage and loss of consumer confidence that comes with non-compliance.
- Take proactive steps to manage risk in a cost-effective manner, whether it’s by increasing employee training, closing security loopholes or upgrading existing hardware.
- Avoid unanticipated downtime and streamline the recovery process when your security is compromised. With the average cost of a data breach rising across all industries, penetration testing is an investment in the future of your business.
- Give your in-house IT team tools to work more effectively. The insights gained through penetration testing can reduce your staffing requirements, saving you money and freeing up key team members to work on longer term projects.
Who Needs Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing can benefit any business, whether they have an in-house IT team or not. Rather than being a one-size-fits-all solution, penetration testing services are customized to the specifics of your network and your industry. As such, it can be as extensive or as focused as it needs to be.
Any business that handles sensitive information — whether it’s credit card transactions, health records, intellectual property or anything else that is covered by privacy regulations — can benefit from regular pen testing. While pen testing should be part of your routine IT security maintenance protocol, there are certain situations in which an increased awareness of internal and external risks is required. These include:
- Following upgrades or modifications to your security infrastructure.
- During periods of growth when new workstations or locations are added.
- After new internal policies (such as, for example, wireless BYOD policies) are adopted.
If any of the above criteria apply to you or if you’re at all worried about the safety of your critical data, contact Vigilant Compliance today. We’re a penetration testing provider specializing in comprehensive network and wireless penetration testing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Let our experts develop a comprehensive, multi-vector plan that exposes the weaknesses that can potentially cost you money.
To get started, contact our office and speak with one of our network security experts today.