IT security: penetration testing and why you need it
Hacking is a dirty word in the business world and for good reason. Thousands of UK businesses suffer the consequences of hacking every year and it is not just the big organisations. As more SMEs move towards digital transformation, IT and network security concerns are on the increase and penetration testing is growing much more common for smaller businesses as a result.
As a company owner, you may have your own concerns about cybersecurity, especially if you’re already facing challenges with network changes, compliance and a remote workforce. If you’ve read about penetration testing, you will already know that it can help to identify vulnerabilities or flaws in your network, but you may still be wondering if you need it for your business.
Here at J&L, we’re cutting through the technical jargon to bring you the basics about the importance of penetration testing – what it is, what can be accomplished with it and why you need it.
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing is also known as Pen testing and in simple terms involves the simulation of a cybersecurity attack or attempted hack of your IT system.
A pen test is defined by the organisational needs. This can include (but is not limited to):
- Physical security components
- Security training
- Server protocols
- WAF policies
Testing an IT system for obvious (and not-so-obvious) flaws and vulnerabilities can be an important part of your security risk management process and essential if you are assessing your network for further remote working opportunities for your company.
The process is aimed at determining where and how your system would most likely be hacked, why and what they would be looking for and how much damage it would do and how your system would fend off the attack. The results of the penetration tests are then used to help close any open doors within your system and safeguard it against attack in the future.
Testing levels explained
There are different levels of penetration test and the first will provide a vulnerability assessment, which can then be used to further probe into the areas most at risk.
Internal penetration testing
This type of pen test determines the ability of an insider attack. This could be performed to simulate the efficacy of a hack to an application located behind the firewall, which could occur if an employee had malicious intent or if their credentials were stolen or hacked.
External testing involves attempting access to publicly visible business assets online. This can include (but is not limited to):
- Email servers
- DNS servers
Targeted penetration testing
A targeted pen test involves a real-time team effort as both the company security team and testing professionals work together to observe the attempted security breach. This is perhaps the most valuable pen test for training purposes.
Blind- and double-blind testing
Blind penetration testing is also used in security training programs and gives useful, real-time insight into how a cyberattack takes place.
Blind penetration testing is a scenario when the test team has only the target business name.
Double-blind testing involves no prior knowledge of the test in advance by the company’s security team.
Why do you need it?
As we have previously mentioned, it isn’t just the biggest organisations suffering from the consequences of a cybersecurity breach. Businesses of all sizes can be vulnerable to hacking and since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, can face significant fines for failure to protect the personal data of our customers, business associates and employees.
Staying on top of the latest cybersecurity attacks can be challenging, to say the least. Therefore, it can be critical to carry out penetration testing to help to pinpoint the weaknesses in your IT and network security. A proactive approach helps to build your defences in advance and working closely with a reliable, trusted testing team can ensure that you stay current and a step ahead of any potential hacker.
How J&L can help
At J&L, we understand the challenges that businesses and organisations of all sizes face when it comes to IT and network security. We also know that there is an almost overwhelming range of ever-evolving options, protocols, systems and services required to support your operational processes.
We are here to help you cut through the jargon and complexities and to provide a comprehensive approach to your cybersecurity challenges. J&L can guide you through and carry out a full assessment of your current security set-up to include penetration testing and assistance in securing your data.
Talk to us or visit our IT security services page to find out more and let us identify your system weaknesses with penetration testing to help you stay ahead of the hackers.