Penetration Testing Explained

It seems every day there is a breaking story about a security breach at a major corporation or government agency. Horror stories abound of compromised credit card accounts, medical records and social security numbers. While companies continue to invest more and more money into security, the breaches continue. One of the main tools used to mitigate the risk of data loss is a penetration test.

What is a Penetration Test?

In simplest terms, a penetration test is the evaluation of a company’s entire security infrastructure. The testing can involve computer networks, firewalls, web servers and wireless access points. A thorough test will attempt to gain access to systems through multiple methods and entry points. Both internal and external points should be secure from attack.

Many companies choose to use third party security specialists to perform their testing, as they tend to provide more impartial results than using an in-house team. Great care should be taken to ensure that the testing team comes from a certified and reputable company as they may gain access to confidential data. Because the testing needs to simulate an actual attack, the technicians who perform penetration tests must be highly skilled security specialists. Commonly known as white-hat or ethical hackers, they should have skills equal to or better than the black-hat or malicious hackers.

Purpose of a Penetration Test

The purpose of the testing is to expose weaknesses or vulnerabilities in a company’s security infrastructure and policies. Once identified, they should be quickly mitigated so malicious individuals do not use them to harm the company or its assets.

Benefits of Penetration Testing

Many benefits, for both the webmaster and company result from the testing. Security breaches are a public relations nightmare. They affect not just the company but also potentially any clients or vendors as well. A company that is secure, and tests favorably will help build trust with clients and business partners.

Protecting the brand is of utmost importance. Nobody wants to make headlines as the company that lost valuable customer data. It can take years to recover from such an incident. Customers are much more likely to stay with a company that has a proven track record for protecting its assets.

In today’s digital world where a business may be running 24/7, continuity of operations is critical. An exploit that leads to downtime of the network translates to real dollars lost. Depending on the degree of damage and the business model of the company, this could cause a huge loss of profits. This is not even including additional costs incurred for remediation and cleanup of the damage.

Security can make up a significant portion of the information technology budget. It is important that those dollars be spent wisely and effectively. A comprehensive penetration test is an excellent way to gauge how the internal and external security policies are working and expose areas that need improvement.

Webmasters are effectively the gatekeepers into the company’s private network. One of their jobs is to ensure that network and webserver are secure from attacks. Excellent test results are an indication that the webmaster is doing their job securing the company assets.

Security Audit Systems offers top of the line penetration testing in UK. Their job is to keep your website safe and secured from malicious attacks and hacks.