Have you ever been the target of a cyberattack and felt concerned that your information systems possess certain weaknesses? Fortunately, there is an effective way to identify such vulnerabilities and prevent them from being exploited: penetration testing. Many organizations from a variety of industries conduct this type of testing. According to a 2015 study by WhiteHat Security, 92% of the 118 organizations analyzed had performed pen testing at least once as part of their cybersecurity initiatives. Additionally, 21% of these organizations conducted a penetration test once annually. Let’s take a close look at this process and what its benefits are.
What Exactly Is Penetration Testing?
Regardless of an organization’s size or the strength of its infrastructure, applications and networks can easily be exploited if certain precautions aren’t taken. It’s important to note that penetration testing, which is also known as “ethical hacking,” is a simulated cyberattack. With respect to web application security, pen testing is frequently utilized in order to augment a web application firewall (WAF). This type of firewall assesses requests that enter applications and halt attacks. Penetration testing can include the attempted breach of many different types of application systems (e.g. APIs) to detect vulnerabilities. A pen test can offer insights that can then be utilized to optimize your WAF security policies.
How Does Penetration Testing Work?
Penetration testing typically occurs in five stages:
- Planning and Reconnaissance: This initial stage involves defining the testing scope and goals and collecting intelligence about things such as mail servers to comprehend how a target functions.
- Scanning: After collecting intelligence, the next objective is to understand how an application will react to attempted intrusions. In order to achieve this, two types of processes intended to analyze application code are utilized: static analysis and dynamic analysis.
- Gaining Access: In this stage, web application attacks like SQL injection, and cross-site scripting are utilized to identify vulnerabilities.
- Maintaining Access: This step’s objective is to determine whether the vulnerability can be utilized to reach a near-constant presence in whatever system is being exploited.
- Analysis/Covering Tracks: This final stage consists of compiling all the results of the pen test into a report that outlines which vulnerabilities were exploited, what types of sensitive information were compromised, and the duration of time for which the pen tester was able to go unnoticed in the system.
The Benefits of Penetration Testing
There are five common methods for conducting penetration testing: external testing, internal testing, blind testing, double-blind testing, and targeted testing. Each one offers at least one benefit. For example, in a blind test, a pen tester only knows the name of the targeted entity. The advantage of this method is that it can provide you with a real-time look at how a genuine attack on an application or system would occur. Targeted testing also offers real-time analysis of an assault and allows for continuous, mutual feedback between security personnel and the hacker/malicious agent. A double-blind test, meanwhile, is one of the methods that can most accurately simulate reality because your security team wouldn’t have enough time to establish its defenses prior to an attempted breach.
Ultimately, conducting a pen test regularly can help your organization reveal genuine security risks and threats, ensure business continuity, and maintain a certain level of trust and confidence between you and your clients, business partners, and suppliers. The truth is that many web applications have glaring security flaws or weaknesses that are exploitable. According to information security company Trustwave’s 2018 Global Security Report, 59% of tested web applications have at least one session management vulnerability. Even seemingly small input validation errors such as neglect to sanitize user input can lead to vulnerabilities.
Additionally, holding training sessions and seminars on penetration testing for all your employees can help generate more awareness about how to properly respond to future cyberattacks.
Speak With an IT Security Professional
Contact the IT security experts at SeaGlass Technology in New York to learn more about the advantages of penetration testing and exactly how this process works. We are dedicated to providing our customers with comprehensive and innovative IT solutions that are customized to meet each client’s unique needs.
The team at SeaGlass Technology has extensive experience with penetration testing and can assist your organization in preventing data breaches and other cyberattacks, which can take a significant time to recover from, and which can end up costing you thousands of dollars. Call SeaGlass Technology today at (212) 886-0790 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists or for more information about our services.