Penetration testing (pen-testing) is crucial in enhancing any organization’s safety. However, penetration testers often face questions of whether penetration testing is enough to secure personal and sensitive data. Penetration testing is an authorized full risk assessment that analyzes systems for vulnerabilities to identify possible Cyber Security glitches. It fully comprehends the extent of damage that cyber-criminals could cause to an organization before a breach occurs.
The average cost of a single data breach across all industries worldwide, as of 2020, stood at nearly 4 million U.S. dollars. (Source: Statista.com)
With the help of penetration testing, organizations have a chance to increase their security before malicious attackers destroy or expose critical and sensitive data in the market. However, some organizations put off or avoid penetration testing because of certain misconceptions they have towards penetration testing.
Here are 4 popular misconceptions about penetration testing that must be dispelled immediately:
1. Penetration testing is only for large companies
A 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report by Verizon, shows that small organizations fared less positively at 47%, to find data breaches. (Source: Verizon)
According to the Data Breach Investigation Report by Verizon, over 60% of breaches hit smaller businesses, while according to UPS Capital, a mere 10% of all small businesses provide protection to a customer and business personal data, resulting in a loss of approximately $84,000—$148,000. (can’t find source)
Smaller businesses are not immune to data breaches. Penetration testing helps businesses, irrespective of whether they are small or large, to remain secure from malware attacks like trojans, ransomware, and phishing attacks. Most of these attacks aim to destroy or gain personally identifiable information (PII) or financial benefits.
2. Pen testers have hardly any knowledge about the systems they are targeting
Out of the three types of penetration testing, only one doesn’t provide the penetration testers with knowledge about the system that they are targeting, other than the information that is already freely available to the public. This type of penetration testing is known as black-box testing.
The other two types of testing are:
White box testing: The penetration testers use knowledge about programming code to examine the outputs after having full visibility of what the targeted program is supposed to do.
Gray box testing: The penetration testers have knowledge limited to how the system components function and interact but will not have a comprehensive understanding of the internal program.
3. Pen testing concentrates only on the technical aspects and not physical security.
Traditional penetration testing concentrates on both technical and physical aspects of security. It tests your network, applications, devices, and physical security to simulate a real-world attack by a malicious cyber-criminal, to identify the areas where your security posture can be improved.
Various types of penetration tests conducted for the same are:
Network penetration testing: Identifies network and system vulnerabilities like wireless network vulnerabilities, weak passwords and default accounts, and system misconfigurations.
Application penetration testing: Identifies cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection vulnerabilities, and flaws in the HTML code.
Physical penetration testing: Identifies weaknesses in physical security such as locks, cameras, and sensors.
4. Only third-party vendors conduct pen-tests
Penetration tests can be conducted by full-time employees, employees on a contractual basis, or third-party vendors, as long as your company is getting the protection they need.
If you opt to hire a third-party vendor to do your penetration testing, it is advised that a thorough background check on the third-party vendor is conducted. The test conducted should be on a contractual basis, to ensure that exploited data is not misused.
When done right, penetration testing can help organizations remain secure regardless of what industry they cater to or how large or small scale they are.
In this digital age, organizations must move beyond misconceptions, be well-informed about the advantages and disadvantages of penetration testing before making a decision in haste or because of lack of information.
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Don’t let misconceptions stand in the way of your security. Learn all you need to know about penetration testing with a Cyber Security online degree, today!