Discovering Vulnerabilities Through Penetration Testing: What You Need to Know
Are you thinking of conducting penetration testing to discover your IT network’s security vulnerabilities?
If you are, then you need to be well-acquainted with the penetration testing process and its significance even before you use it.
Doing so lets you level your expectations and better appreciate how pen testing will go, what you can gain from it, how it can help your overall company and IT management, and more.
That said, here’s what you need to know about discovering vulnerabilities through pen-testing.
The Value of Pen Testing
Penetration testing is a crucial defense measure you need to implement in your organization.
After all, cyber hijackers constantly seek to find and abuse any security flaws in your IT landscape.
Without pen testing, you won’t have an exhaustive assessment of your IT vulnerabilities. As a result, you’ll fail to fix security issues before hackers can manipulate them.
You also won’t gain a concrete picture of your susceptibility to real-life cyberattacks simulated in the process.
Pen testing, especially by outside experts, can even shed light on your security blind spots, what you’re doing wrong, and which IT defense aspects you should prioritize investing in.
Your pen testing vendors will emphasize as well the essential security practices you can’t overlook from then on.
Now, one of the reasons many entrepreneurs neglect cybersecurity is because they’re not aware of the need for it. They also lack relevant know-how.
When you’re familiar with the basic concepts, though, you can better grasp the repercussions of neglecting it and appreciate its role in protecting your business.
That is why, to deepen your understanding of the value of pen testing and information security, you can first read up related guides online.
Here are some recommended resources:
- Penetration Testing: https://www.bulletproof.co.uk/penetration-testing
- Types of Hackers: https://www.lifewire.com/black-hat-hacker-a-white-hat-hacker-4061415
- Importance of Cybersecurity: https://minutehack.com/opinions/why-is-cybersecurity-important
- Various Types of Cyber Attacks: https://robots.net/it/15-types-of-cyber-attacks/
- Cybersecurity Terms: https://www.inc.com/neill-feather/10-cybersecurity-terms-every-business-leader-should-know.html, https://learn.g2.com/cyber-security-terms
With these guides, you can make the most of the findings and remedies your pen testing vendors will give to you (more on that in the next sections).
How Pen Tests Uncover and Assess Vulnerabilities
Penetration testers can uncover your IT vulnerabilities at various stages of the process.
By gathering insight and company information, they get a better grasp of your operations and IT structure and see where possible vulnerabilities might come out.
The experts will then try to gain access to your web applications, systems, devices, networks, and other mechanisms.
Here, the pen testers can discover security flaws and intentionally manipulate them.
The specialists will see how strongly your IT defenses can thwart cyber threats, as well as the amount of damage your systems can suffer.
By imitating advanced persistent threats, experts can examine if and how the flaws left in exploited systems can give cybercriminals deep, constant access to your assets.
Your pen testing vendors can unearth different kinds of vulnerabilities, too.
For instance, they can see if you have flaws in your authentication systems and encryption that hackers can use in intercepting your communications.
Susceptible network, device, and host configurations are another vulnerability pen testing can expose. These setups may include cloud systems, open ports, and even weak login passes.
Security experts can also check if your web applications are vulnerable to command and code injections like SQL.
Finally, cybersecurity specialists also search for cookies, identification tokens, and other session management controls that you use to ease logins, store preferences, and others.
Pen testers verify if these tokens are safe from manipulation by hackers attempting to hijack activities and acquire in-depth access privileges.
As a business owner, remember that hackers will not hesitate to abuse any IT flaws they may find in your website.
If you’re using WordPress (WP), for instance, one of the most popular website builders, you’ll want to be more careful.
Hackers exploit site vulnerabilities that unknowing WP site owners often neglect, like incorrect file permissions, outdated plugins and themes, weak admin passcodes, and more.
Penetration testing, along with other solid cyber defense practices, can help you secure your WP site effectively from possible threats.
What Comes After Exposing Vulnerabilities?
Once pen testers expose your security vulnerabilities, they document, consolidate, and report their findings to your company.
The size of their report typically depends on their scope of engagement with you and the number of discovered vulnerabilities, among others.
The pen testers will also request a meeting with you and those holding relevant designations, like your executives and the IT department.
In this meeting, cybersecurity experts present their findings. Your managers and staff can convey their responses, such as whether to eliminate, mitigate, or accept the risk.
The pen testers also give a narrative report with a list of the vulnerabilities found, methodologies executed, their observations, implications to your business, and their recommendation.
To help you carry out the recommended actions, the pen testers guide and provide you with remediation details and steps to reduce the security weaknesses.
With these, your IT team can assess the amount of effort they need to put in, as well as monitor the vulnerabilities, verify their existence, and apply the required patches.
The pen testers also provide a technical summary for your IT department and an executive one for your managers and top-level supervisors.
Once you’ve read the report, you need to respond accordingly and act on handling the vulnerabilities as soon and efficiently as possible.
For one, you have to instruct your IT team to implement the needed patches and resolve other security issues that emerged.
Take note that the time and effort needed to deal with the mentioned issues depend on the vulnerabilities discovered.
For instance, some of these vulnerabilities require you to apply comprehensive IT structure patches in specialized environments first before the live system.
Other flaws require you to upgrade the exploited software or other channels. At times, though, only the vendor of that facility can install updates, and that usually involves more work.
Nevertheless, as a business owner, you need to do what it takes to address these pen-testing findings if you want to secure your business effectively.
Discovering your security vulnerabilities from pen testing is one thing. Acting on the recommended patches and remedies is another.
If you want to get the most benefit from pen testing, you need to trust the experts’ advice and work on eliminating and mitigating risks before hackers can abuse them.
The sooner you invest in pen testing and apply the necessary fixes, the quicker and more effectively you can combat cyber onslaughts that may come your way.