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Why Does Your Company Need a Penetration Test?

Rob Behnke

In an earlier article, we talked about what a penetration test is and what it is not.  After answering those questions, the next logical question that a company should ask is “Do I need a penetration test?”

Internal Company Security Programs Are Not Enough

Many organizations have an in-house IT or security team responsible for identifying potential vulnerabilities and protecting the business against cyber threats.  After building out such a program, it might seem like undergoing a penetration test is an unnecessary exercise.

However, in-house security teams have their limitations and blind spots.  A failure to acknowledge these can leave an organization vulnerable to attack.

Proactive Security Is Vital to Cyber Defense

Most organizations have a security strategy that is focused on threat detection and prevention.  Even as companies move from traditional, perimeter-focused security models to strategies based on the zero-trust philosophy, the focus is on finding and blocking threats to the company.

However, this is not always an effective approach to security.  Some threats will slip past an organization’s defenses, allowing attackers to lurk unnoticed on corporate systems.  

Additionally, any attacks not detected and blocked by preventative controls give an attacker the opportunity to carry out their attack and achieve their goals before the threat is (potentially) detected and remediated.

Proactive security is a vital complement to detective and preventive controls.  Companies need to look for threats that they don’t know exist and vulnerabilities that have not been exploited by an attacker to have a full understanding of their current security posture.

In-House Personnel Lack the Required Perspective

A company may know that proactive security assessments are an important component of its cybersecurity efforts, but it is also essential to acknowledge that in-house personnel are often not the best choice for performing these assessments.  

Some of the reasons why you should hire an external cybersecurity team to complement your in-house security efforts include:

  • Attacker Mentality: Most in-house personnel have a defensive mentality, focused on their role of protecting the company against external threats.  Accurately simulating the tactics and techniques used by a cyberattacker to identify gaps in an organization’s defenses requires an offensive mindset.
  • External Perspective: Internal IT and security teams are the ones that design, build, and maintain the organization’s IT and security infrastructure.  They know how a system should work, which is not always the same as how it does work.  The difference between theory and reality and the preconceptions that defenders have about their own systems can result in security issues being overlooked.
  • Specialized Skill Sets: The modern IT infrastructure is complex, spanning on-premise datacenters, cloud-based infrastructure, and remote workers’ devices.  Securing this diverse infrastructure requires deep expertise in each of these platforms.  If in-house security personnel do not have the expert knowledge about how these systems should be secured and how they can be attacked, then they might not be able to identify critical security errors within them.
  • Time and Resources: IT and security teams have many responsibilities and are frequently overwhelmed.  This makes it difficult to carve out the necessary time and focus that comprehensive security testing requires.

Why Penetration Testing Is Essential for Companies 

For most companies, undergoing a penetration test by a reputable service provider provides a significant boost to their internal cybersecurity.  A pen test can help companies with various aspects of their cybersecurity including:

  • Realistic Assessments: Evaluating the ability of in-house security teams and defenses to detect and remediate real-world cyber threats can be difficult.  Undergoing a penetration test enables a company to see how its security stacks up against the tools and techniques used by real threat actors.
  • Vulnerability Triage: Most organizations are behind on vulnerability management with little chance of catching up soon.  A pen test can help organizations to identify the vulnerabilities that attackers are most likely to exploit, enabling them to focus remediation efforts on these vulnerabilities and dramatically decrease their cybersecurity risk.
  • Compliance Readiness: Most organizations are subject to multiple compliance regulations that mandate that they have security controls in place to protect sensitive information in their care.  Penetration testing can help organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their security controls and reduce the probability and impact of a data breach.

How Often You Should Pen Test

Most companies should undergo penetration testing on a regular basis - at least annually.  This enables an organization to evaluate the state of its cybersecurity posture as its IT infrastructure and the cyber threat landscape change.  Penetration tests provide a snapshot of an organization’s existing cybersecurity strength; only by performing them regularly does a company get a wider picture of how its defenses stack up against cyber threats.

Finding a Penetration Testing Service Provider

A penetration test is only as good as the penetration testing service provider.  When selecting a cybersecurity company to perform a penetration test against your organization, look for one that the top organizations trust with their security.  Halborn is one of the top penetration testing service providers on the market. We’ve worked with Coinbase, BlockFi, Bancor, Ava Labs, SushiSwap, Polygon and many more.

For more information about our penetration testing services and costs, reach out to us [email protected].

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