Penetration Testing 101: A Key to Safeguarding Client’s Data
Have you ever thought about how much a single error can cost? Let’s say, we are talking of a data breach. According to the latest report, its average price comprised $8.64 million in the USA alone, which dates back to 2020. Despite the industry your organization belongs to, DDoS attacks, Trojan-infected botnets, clickjacking, or other malicious hacks can easily place your business at a risk of severe reputational damage.
In the age of cyber crime provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and a consequent global shift to online, various types of cyber threats have been on the rise, thereby forcing companies to perform uncomfortable justifications.For instance, last January,Microsoft customer support database was exposed providing personal data of almost 300 million users, while in April the credentials of half a million Zoom accounts were available for sale on the dark net.
To keep the intruders at bay and continue with business as usual, companies may reconsider their development strategies and choose penetration testing. In the article, I’ll focus more on its concept, value, and types to help organizations enrich their QA strategies.
Penetration Testing Essence
Being one of the most sought-after QA types nowadays, penetration testing serves to uncover security vulnerabilities, safeguard sensitive clients’ data, and minimize any application risks, which directly increases brand image and boosts client retention rates.
Unlike ethical hacking, certified specialists perform these verification, smoothly spot diverse solution weaknesses, and will never behave in a way “black-hat” hackers act, probing companies’ systems and applying obtained data for criminal gain.
Penetration Testing role for business: 4 Major benefits
So, what are the major perks of implementing ongoing penetration testing? There are at least four advantages that may change business workflows for the better:
- Prevent any damage to public image or loss of money. In addition to reputational damage led by an extensive decrease in customer base, companies may lose tremendous sums of money by paying multi-thousand ransoms for the attackers to keep the business.
- Enable business resilience. Serious hacks of malicious users can briskly lead to dissolving any activities. Without timely detecting and troubleshooting existing security loopholes, organizations may experience a continuous exposure to high-level risks.
- Save a great deal of time that could be otherwise spent on recuperation. Recovery procedure after being subjected to a cyber attack is a time- and effort-consuming process fraught with challenges like a significant decrease in operational capabilities for many months thereafter.
- Attain compliance with strict regulations. International standards may impose monthly penalties in case of inconsistency with set requirements. In addition, PCI DSS states that it’s vital to fulfill penetration testing both annually and after any considerable changes introduced to the system.
When to conduct PENETRATION testing?
Unfortunately, organizations remember to carry out this activity when it’s too late, and a breach has already occurred, thereby extending a virus within a company or stealing highly sensitive data.
To prevent this devastating scenario from taking place, broad-minded companies involve penetration testing experts each time they plan to release an application, introduce substantial modifications, apply new security patches, or pass the analysis scheduled by the demands of diverse international regulations.
3 Approaches to performing penetration testing
Depending on whether the QA engineers possess a profound knowledge of the solution under test or have to explore this data on their own, let’s determine 3 techniques used to fulfill these verification and boost organizational security:
- Black-box testing: In the scope of quality assurance activities, the engineer has no or little data on the client’s software and has to discover the ways of entering system infrastructure. It allows simulating real-life attacks carried out by intruders and spotting vulnerabilities that can be leveraged outside the network.
- White-box testing: Contrary to the technique discussed above, the tester has a 360-degree access to system information such as the source code and the environment and is able to conduct an all-inclusive security analysis using code analyzers and debuggers to determine both internal and external exposures.
- Gray-box testing: Finally, the penetration testing engineer may have limited data about the business’ software, like design and architecture documentation,and behave on behalf of a cyber criminal with a long-standing access to the system.
Top 5 penetration testing types
Unfortunately, all security risks are hard to envisage. Still, businesses may keep them to a minimum by timely applying QA to determine weak points in the system with the help of a realistic, in-depth analysis that penetration testing provides. Therefore, I suggest delving deeper into its types below.
1. Network services
Carried out both locally and remotely, it detects security flaws in the organization’s network infrastructure by covering high-priority aspects such as servers or workstations. In the scope of assuring quality, the engineers make sure that a company would manage to withstand a number of widespread attacks including SSH, DNS, database, proxy server hacks, and more. Since the network is an essential part of any organization and is responsible for business continuity, it’s wise to perform external and internal penetration tests.
2. Web application
This time- and effort-consuming penetration test helps define vulnerabilities in web applications, browsers, and multiple components like APIs by identifying every part of the apps leveraged by users. Performed professionally, it traces the most pervasive application weak points ― from bad session management to issues in code.
3. Social engineering
Generally, the core objective of cybercriminals is to deceive users by making them intentionally provide the desired sensitive data like credentials. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, this verification plays first fiddle due to the boost in phishing schemes. To define security bottlenecks, the engineers utilize social engineering attacks such as phishing, scareware, tailgating, and others.
In this case, the QA team seeks any kinds of weak points that can be used within the extensive chain of all the devices ― from laptops to smartphones ― connected to the corporate Wi-Fi. Accordingly, QA teams frequently run these tests onsite to be within the range of the signal. Wireless penetration testing means a great deal since without regular quality assurance, the intruders obtain unauthorized access to the organization’s network by applying diverse Wi-Fi hacking tools.
These kinds of tests often lack the appropriate focus, which is a big mistake. By making use of divergent security loopholes, the attackers can sneak into a server room and take control of a network. To prevent such a case, it’s vital to spot vulnerabilities in sensors and locks in advance.
IN A NUTSHELL,
Brand reputation and meeting the increasingly high competition intimately depend on an overall level of robustness within an organization. The earlier it focuses on timely cybersecurity testing, the less likely it faces severe consequences of the hacks performed by malicious attackers.
Good security practices with diverse types of penetration testing at the helm enable a risk-based approach to ensuring high protection against a sophisticated intruder.