As is the case with all business security measures across the board, not all penetration testing programs and approaches are of the same standard. Of course, the principle is the same across the board and involves a third party of some description trying (with permission) to hack their way into your networks and access your data, in order to assess how easy it would be for a criminal hacking group to do the same. This is done in order to help determine the real threats posed to any given business as opposed to the theoretical threats the business owners may assume are at play – the difference generally being quite large and alarming to say the least.
In some instances, a business may choose to take care of its own pen testing by use of specially designed software, which although (technically) better than nothing is a flawed approach to say the least. The fact that hacking groups are constantly evolving and refining their methods of attack generally means that any software-based pen testing system created today could be to a large extent out-dated tomorrow, which is why for the sake of any proactive business it’s crucial to side only with genuine and professional human pen testers.
Pen Testing Strategies
According to the experts at Perspective Risk, there are multiple facets of and approaches to professional pen testing which should by rights be covered from top to bottom in order for all potential flaws to be identified. It’s said that all too often a business will cover certain bases and overlook others, which can be a little like fitting locks to most of the doors around the office but leaving one or two wide open.
As for the specific pen testing strategies that should make it into any package provided by a pro security group, there are certain examples that are nothing short of mandatory.
When you hear about targeted testing, this is when the pen testing team works in conjunction with the business itself (or its IT team) in order to carry out the planned hacking attack under supervision. In this instance, everyone knows that the hack is going to take place and can see what happens along the way – an extremely insightful element of the process.
Perhaps the single most important strategy of all, blind testing involves the third-party team carrying out the intended security breach on the business without the knowledge of most of the company’s employees. In this instance, they may be provided with nothing but the name of the business and then left to explore all security holes and report back on them. This is the most realistic of all strategies as it mimics what would happen in the event of a genuine hack.
An external test looks into how possible or easy it may be for an external hacker to breach the company’s primary firewall and gain access from the outside. As the vast majority of attacks are carried out from remote locations by those that have nothing to do with the business directly, this is one of the most crucial elements of all.
As for internal testing, this is the part of the process that looks into how easily a person already inside the company’s firewall and with access to certain areas of the network could bypass current security and gain access to other areas without authorisation. Internal attacks do happen and can have devastating consequences, so this is another area that must be explored.
Double Blind Testing
In the case of double blind testing, it could be that nobody working in the business whatsoever is given any indication that the planned hack is going to take place, with only the company’s owners/board members being aware of what’s to happen. In this instance eventhe higher-level managers and IT security team are wholly unaware of what’s happening.
The Benefits of Pen Testing
The primary benefit of pen testing is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your data and network security systems are not only robust on paper, but genuinely workable in the real world. Clawing back to life in the aftermath of an attack can be both painful and fatally expensive to say the least, which is why there’s no sense whatsoever in waiting to find out the hard way if you’re covered.
You’ll never know what kinds of holes there are in your security system unless you go look for them one way or the other – it’s as simple as that.