No, we are not asking you to invite hackers into your organization so that they can make some easy money! What we mean is that breaching your network can prove beneficial – if it is done by professionals hackers hired by you for testing how vulnerable your network is to various Security threats that exist out there. Usually going by the name, ethical hackers, the job of these professionals is to expose the chinks which may be existing in your network security’s armor and thereby help you identify weak security points which need to be strengthened.
And the various methods these ethical hackers employ to test or scrutinize your organization’s security is known as Penetration Testing. (Therefore ethical hackers are also known as penetration testers). In this blog, let’s try to understand why every organization needs to employ these ethical hackers to perform penetration testing, along with its advantages.
What is Penetration Testing (or pentesting)?
Simply put, it is the process of anticipating what hackers might do to crack your network and use those results to in turn strengthen your network’s security. In other words, to understand the mindset of hackers and the methods they may deploy, you should first become one. (Or hire one, if you don’t have enough brains).
Technically speaking, penetration testing is the practice of testing computer systems or networks to find vulnerabilities (or security weaknesses) which hackers could exploit. Penetration testing is also known as white hat attacks, because ethical hackers are essentially good guys, attempting to break into your networks with good intentions of exposing your network’s security weaknesses.
This is what managing director at DRS, MJ Strydom, has to say on penetration testing: “What better way is there to prepare for an attack, than to have experts, who have the same skills that the cyber criminals do, see if they can breach your defenses. This will ensure that the right protocols can be put into place should any real-world attacks happen“.
He goes on to add that: “The chances are that any hacker who is determined enough will eventually get in. At its core, security is nothing if not an exercise in lessening the attack surface to the very possible minimum. Cyber criminals will always take the path of least resistance, and go for the low hanging fruit. The best a business can hope for is to make themselves a less attractive target than the next business”.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of penetration testing, apart from enhancing your network security and thereby preventing data breaches.
1. You Get Third Party Expert Opinion: What’s ours will always seem precious to us, irrespective of the flaws others may find in them. The same applies for your network security as well. Therefore unless you employ ethical hackers to crack your network, you won’t be able to get a genuine expert opinion on the state of your network’s security. Vital piece of information which can go a long way in enhancing the security of your network.
2. Improves Enterprise Compliance: There are many regulatory bodies which enterprises have to comply with – like PCI DSS for e-commerce businesses – in order to exist and prove to the world their business is indeed a secure one. Most of these regulatory bodies make penetration testing mandatory. Therefore performing penetration testing not only makes your enterprise more secure but also improves your business reputation as well.
Enterprises should always be aware of their security posture. And penetration testing contributes greatly in helping enterprises become aware of this. Therefore penetration testing (and ethical hackers) should always be a part of your security strategy. Because only if you can recognize your security weaknesses will you be able to fix them in the first place.