Connectivity is the keyword. It is the ability most companies take for granted in the 21st century. They do so because it is no longer a luxury to stay connected. Connectivity has become an essential requirement for businesses to operate without friction. Organizations around the world are now more connected to each other than ever. They can interact with their customers, stakeholders, and employees in a more efficient manner than before.
An uninterrupted flow of information has been made possible by ever-improving technology, computer systems, and software. Customized applications and software platforms have improved user experiences and productivity standards for all global companies. At the same time, a critical question remains unanswered. Can our sophisticated technological advancements withstand all unauthorized penetration attempts, malicious activities, or external cyber-attacks?
This blog will try to address this question comprehensively. In addition to providing in-depth analysis, we will also discuss why a CompTIA Pen-test+ certification is necessary for cybersecurity professionals.
The Urgency Factor: How Secure Are We?
The following observation from www.SecurityMagazine.com does not paint a convincing picture: “2018 set a new record for security vulnerabilities. CEOs and security teams of all businesses should take note of this issue. The number of reported vulnerabilities is on the rise. The U.S. government has been tracking this issue as well, through their sponsorship of the Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) list and the National Vulnerability Database (NVD). In 2018, this public database published 14,760 known security vulnerabilities – more than twice as many as were reported in 2016.”
Digital Transformation: Increasing Fragilities
An aggressive transformation of business processes, from manual systems to digital ones, has led to some glaring challenges.
It has also exposed companies to higher and costlier cyber risks. A detailed study from the research firm ESI ThoughtLab revealed that cyber risks substantially rise as organizations embrace new and improved technologies and open platforms.
Not many companies seem to be interested in revisiting their security budget allocations. As a result, global cyber-crime costs have seen an upward trend in the last five years. System security must take center stage.
Organizations, irrespective of the scale of operations, are now forced to ask themselves two necessary questions:
- What potential harm can a hacker do to my applications or business in a real-world operation?
- What kind of effective techniques can I use to assess the current security posture of my installed systems?
The answer lies in a process called “pen-testing” or “penetration testing.”
Penetration Testing: An Authorized & Effective Security Test
Penetration Testing is a method of evaluating the existing security standards of your information systems. It is performed for your servers, networks, and websites by emulating a real attack from a malicious source or hacker. These tests can be carried out on IP address ranges, individual applications, or even company names.
The purpose of penetration testing is to check the resilience of your network systems and exploitable vulnerabilities. It is used to identify weaknesses in an organization’s cybersecurity safeguards and the steps necessary to strengthen them.
Reasons to Invest in Penetration Testing
While coming to terms with modern day security threats, companies are aware they may not really be able to make all their systems 100% secure.
However, understanding how breaches can hamper their business goals, they are showing a renewed interest in finding out the kind of challenges they are dealing with. That’s where pen-testing and its use of ethical hacking techniques come in handy.
Penetration testing provides detailed, industry-level-approved documentation of findings and security flaws. This valuable report includes information related to methods used, pieces of evidence discovered, and corroboration of penetration findings. You also get remediation details to prevent future malicious attacks.
To keep your business secure, you must conduct penetration testing and invest in training your employees:
1. As real as it could get: This testing process exposes the imperfections of your security systems before real hackers do. It puts your security systems through the same stress levels as real-life hacking attacks. You get precise information on system errors to be fixed. Also, as pen-testing is a controlled cybersecurity professional hack, it does not cost you anything, which is always better than learning through a financially costly and image-damaging real attack.
2. An edge over your security tools: All organizations use their own set of cybersecurity tools, ranging from encryption codes, anti-virus software, and vulnerability scanning. In spite of the best intentions or capabilities, these tools do not provide guaranteed safety in case of live attacks. That’s where trained and certified penetration testers step in.
They are skilled individuals who are capable of thinking outside the box and navigating through the toughest of tricky barriers. Such testers not only get involved in vulnerability assessments, but they also use open source methodologies. They ensure that their company operates within certain acceptable information security risks.
3. Fresh and unconventional opinions: Generally, most organizations follow set patterns and workflows while performing daily tasks. Following standard operating procedures has its distinct advantages, but it does not necessarily apply to penetration testing or testers. Penetration testers are trained to travel through unchartered waters. They adopt innovative approaches to identify threats and determine the probability of attacks on systems. As a result, they can ensure a more than reasonable IT security related to RoI (Return on Investment). At the same time, they also ensure the company operates in compliance with industry standards and regulations.
4. Benefits of multiple attacks on a single target: On many occasions, a single authorized attack on your security systems, no matter how accurate, is not sufficient to reveal all the vulnerabilities. In complex scenarios, the skill set and hands-on experience of a trained penetration tester play an important role.
Highly trained and certified testers can use a combination of methodologies to initiate multiple, advanced attacks on one target. By following such an approach, testers can identify Cross-Site Scripting, SQL injections, and LFI and RFI vulnerabilities. Also, simultaneous attacks are often able to breach an organization’s cybersecurity, exposing actual vulnerabilities.
5. Black-box testing is better than white-box testing: The white-box testing method provides authorized access to the internal structure of a company. The tester gets information related to internal functioning. On the other hand, black-box testing is considered a better approach as this method offers very little information about the real infrastructure. The tester operates with a lot less know-how of existing structures.
Black-Box method penetration testers use application scanners such as BVA, error guessing, and domain analysis to find and exploit vulnerabilities. White-Box testing is a more cost-effective option but is not considered the best method for judging the security safeguards of a company’s information system. Some shortcomings could go unnoticed and personal biases can play a role. Many penetration testers follow black-box methodologies. It helps them get an on-ground and real-life perspective, without any biases.
Hackers are becoming smarter and better skilled with every passing day. It becomes all the more necessary for the decision makers to ensure appropriate and robust cybersecurity for their systems.
Only 38% of companies worldwide claim they are fully prepared to address coordinated cyber-attacks. The estimated average cost of a data breach could reach $150 million by 2020.
Apart from these essential reasons, a trained penetration tester could be a vital resource while discovering vulnerabilities in your systems. They could also help train your organization’s developers to make fewer mistakes.
Regular penetration tests must be conducted to find out weak links in your security arrangements and the areas where security must be improved. No matter what your industry role is, one of the essential tools that you can use to ensure enhanced cybersecurity is penetration testing.
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Our Penetration Test Certifications:
It is widely accepted that the best cybersecurity professionals display both offensive and defensive skills. That’s why we provide:
- CompTIA Pen-Test+ – A certification for intermediate level cybersecurity professionals.
- CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)
- EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) v10
- EC-Council Advanced Penetration Testing (APT) for LPT (Master) Certification
Penetration testers are always in demand, and the evolving cybersecurity ecosystem means more opportunities for certified professionals.
You could be an intermediate level cybersecurity professional or an experienced one. Our certification courses will help you gain performance-ready expertise in Penetration Testing.