With increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, it is challenging for organizations to track and mitigate the vulnerabilities in the infrastructure. Penetration testing (Pen-testing or Pentest) is a security practice that allows cybersecurity experts to simulate a cyber-attack on a system to detect and exploit vulnerabilities.
These tests utilize a combination of automated and manual technologies to compromise potential points of exposure systemically. At the same time, testers attempt to use the compromised system or device to instigate subsequent exploits at other internal resources. Here are the best pen testing practices organizations must know.
Station Clear Objectives
An initial step in establishing a certain test is to set a scope that includes specific test objectives and conditions. Businesses, for example, can target the whole network, some applications within the network, or perhaps test the API security. The goals and objectives of a pen test vary- from enhancing security to warranting compliance with regulations.
At the same time, it is essential to prevent time and resource wastage and aim at high-risk vulnerabilities likely to be exploited. Organizations must evaluate reasons for initiating pen testing, construe the target environment, determine resources, and create liabilities.
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Budget is a critical factor when organizations seek an efficient security solution. The budget impacts the value of the assets and the objectives businesses want to achieve. Factors like in-house testing versus hiring an external service provider, the type of testing, scope, and coverage affect the budgets. The best way to keep the budget straightforward is to utilize automated testing rather than manual. Moreover, to decelerate costs, businesses can use white box testing, which offers the tester will crucial insights and vulnerabilities rapidly.
Select a Proper Penetration Testing Methodology
Organizations can utilize standard processes for pen testing. These include-
- Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM): This methodology offers technical details and methods to measure the results.
- Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP): This organization enhances cybersecurity by offering lists of common cyber threats and tools.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST conducts security assessments of IT systems. Regulatory agency standards actively accept this approach.
- Information System Security Assessment Framework (ISSAF): This framework offers field inputs for security assessments for real-time scenarios.
- Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES): This offers a common language standard for penetration testing
Businesses must ensure the methodologies of external pen testers resonates with the test requirements since they utilize varying methods.
Select Proper Pen Testers
When hiring pen testers, organizations must ask questions and find appropriate experts for the target domain. An expert has adequate knowledge of the systems and their ongoing vulnerabilities, warranting a successful pen test since an expert always leverages and determines all possible angles of the system’s weaknesses. External testers have experienced staff that initiates practical tests and can independently assess the security posture’s comprehensive analysis. Interestingly, they conduct a wide variety of testing that reassures any objective and environment.
Compose a Pen Test and Devise Monitoring Solutions
Businesses must request sample reports from the pen testers, clean up the test environments, and grant authorizations to ensure the pen tests yield solid outcomes. Additionally, businesses can clean the test environment by restoring it as close to its original state as possible. Ideally, tests are performed live, while organizations perform tests in development test environments to prevent disruptions.
Furthermore, businesses must provide security monitoring solutions before conducting a pen test, which will assist in overseeing the testing performance and help companies to take appropriate actions when required. This is done by –
- Logging Implementation: This is a critical component in security monitoring since it offers crucial insights into the impacts of pen tests on systems. It also helps in identifying vulnerabilities before they transform into threats.
- Build a Risk Management Operation: This process allows businesses to embody numerous areas like planned tests and unexpected issues. At the same time, they must detect breaches in contracts and codes for company and individual policies related to security vulnerabilities and offer better resolutions.
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Categorize Pen Test Results
After procuring data, businesses must schedule a team meeting with the security team and specify weaknesses that require attention. The pen testers must provide details on the discovered vulnerabilities, potential outcomes, risk levels, and remediation strategies. While testers determine the most pressing weaknesses, businesses must assess their prioritization and narrow down the most critical issues companies must address first.
Organizations must understand that the defects arise from misinterpretations during design or implementations and new attack techniques unspecified during testing. The development team must track the areas requiring enhancements.
Assess System Weaknesses and Adapt
After categorizing pen test results, businesses must open the communication channels by offering systemic feedback and assuring their availability for a quick meeting to address the queries and issues. At the same time, assigning a task force to handle undiscovered vulnerabilities ensures businesses have adequate resources, sufficient time, and experience for operations.
More importantly, identifying the causes of vulnerabilities is essential to develop effective strategies to take meaningful actions for each exposure. Lastly, re-assessing the security measures after their fixation ensures the elimination of previously detected vulnerabilities.
Why is Pen Testing Crucial?
Penetration testing unveils cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the systems and provides a roadmap of how attackers could exploit them. Testers typically look out for misconfigurations, flaws in hardware and software, operational vulnerabilities or technical countermeasures, and most importantly, employee susceptibility to social engineering attacks and mitigation measures. These practices ensure effective results and enable enterprises to make the most of initial pen testing.
It is worth noting that pen tests offer a robust way to detect vulnerabilities, but they have a few challenges. A crucial pitfall is that it captures a snapshot of a specific point in time. To fully draw on the security operations, businesses must integrate it with a robust security partner that tests the systems and processes.
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