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What Does A Penetration Testing Company Actually Do?

So you’ve seen the phrase ‘penetration testing’ being thrown about, but don’t really understand what’s involved, or how the companies that offer this type of service go about their work?

Here’s a look at exactly how penetration testing is conducted and what benefits it can bring to your business.


Image Credit: Max Nelson

 

The Basic Concept

If you’re unfamiliar with penetration testing, it’s a varied process involving a number of different disciplines which are combined to put IT security systems and policies under a magnifying glass.

Businesses will hire a penetration testing company to go over various aspects of their cybersecurity with a fine-toothed comb, find any snags and provide guidance on how to sort them out before malicious attacks occur.

Penetration testers are often described as ‘ethical hackers’ but in reality, they are much more than that. The techniques they use to go beyond the digital world and can cover more manual, tangible types of potential breach testing.

Cyber attacks leave businesses with typical costs of over £850,000 to cover, according to a PwC report, so it’s obvious that no organization can afford to be complacent. This explains the rise in the number of firms that are taking preventative action with penetration testing.

 

Common Services

Companies like Fidus Information Security in the UK specializing in this type of service for often high-profile clients. The Times wrote this piece on them explaining exactly how they go about things. Penetration testing at Fidus Information Security comes in many forms and is tailored to the needs of each client.

The two most commonly requested forms of penetration testing focus on a couple of key areas; networking and applications.

A network penetration test will investigate the security systems that govern a business’ internal infrastructure, using the same tactics as those favored by actual hackers to establish whether there are any vulnerabilities.

An application penetration test will peel back the veneer of web apps and root around to see if it can be compromised by experts who know how to exploit weaknesses in the code. This can be applied to both in-house apps and those third-party platforms on which your business relies to improve productivity.

 

Phishing And Social Engineering

Another common approach that a penetration testing company can be asked to take by a client is to create a phishing campaign which targets employees and confirms whether or not they are suitably prepared to avoid the real thing.

76 percent of businesses were hit with some form of phishing scam last year, according to a Kaspersky study. Recognising the scale of the threat that phishing poses and responding to it with bespoke penetration testing is, therefore, a sensible step for any organization to take.

Cybercrime costs are rising across the board, leaping upwards by a fifth in the past 12 months. So penetration testing which lessens the likelihood of phishing scams and social engineering techniques being successful should be considered a valuable investment.

 

Physical Security

If requested, a penetration testing company can also look into whether the premises of a client are suitably secure.

This is useful for organizations that want to protect their valuable on-site assets and avoid the theft of hardware, data or anything else by an interloper who visits in person.

As with other aspects of comprehensive penetration testing, the ways in which physical security is assessed can be altered to ensure that they meet your exact requirements, whatever they might be.

A market-leading penetration testing company will be able to deliver a tailor-made package that its built around the needs of your business. From compliance testing for payment card transactions to mobile app security, there is no aspect of a business’ IT resources which cannot be pulled apart, analyzed and ultimately improved.


Image Credit: Taskin Ashiq