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How Penetration Testing Can Help Secure Your Company’s Infrastructure

For any IT manager, the security of the infrastructure is top priority. Vulnerabilities in a system can leave it open to an attack that results in lost time, money and data. When organizations aren’t proactive in identifying and resolving vulnerabilities, it leaves the network open to cyberattacks.

Any security breach can have far-reaching implications for a company and its customers. Breaches open a company up to everything from lost consumer confidence to legal action. A 2015 study by Retail Perceptions found that 12% of retail customers would stop shopping at a retailer after a security breach and 79% of those who said they’d continue shopping there said that they would not use their credit or debit cards at that store again.

It’s not just retail businesses who are at risk for security breaches; among the organizations attacked this year were Facebook, the Sacramento Bee newspaper, the fitness app PumpUp and the genealogy platform MyHeritage. While the security failure of large organizations are more likely to grab headlines, the likelihood of a breach is greater for small businesses. And, experts say, the ability of a small business to fully recover from such an attack is much less than a large company with greater resources and deeper pockets.

That’s the reason comprehensive security testing techniques such as penetration testing are key to safeguarding every business’ infrastructure.

Penetration Testing: What It Is

The testing that is done to evaluate the security of IT infrastructures is called a penetration test, or pen test.

Pen testing will look for any vulnerabilities in your system that could compromise the confidentiality and availability of data. To do this, the test emulates a real attack in a controlled environment so it can identify and exploit any system vulnerabilities.

This includes vulnerabilities in operating systems, services, networks or applications. In some cases, these vulnerabilities may be the result of improper configurations or risky behavior by end users. Whatever the cause, pen testing is an effective way to find vulnerabilities before an outside hacker does.

A pen tester is, in fact, very similar to a hacker who is looking for loopholes and openings, but the difference is that the pen tester has permission to launch the attack with the end goal of identifying and eliminating the threat.

In addition to locating system vulnerabilities, pen testing can also help determine how effective system defense mechanisms are and evaluate whether or not end users are following proper security protocol.

Although pen testing may be done to find a particular vulnerability, most pen testers will continue testing even after that initial hole is discovered. This allows them to locate and fix any additional risks or threats.

Through pen testing, companies can gain thorough information on actual security threats and vulnerabilities within the infrastructure. This allows business owners and IT managers to prioritize which security weaknesses are most crucial and should be addressed immediately. It also allows for the development of a plan of action for security weaknesses that may be less critical to operations and even determine which tests may have registered a false positive.

How Is Penetration Testing Performed?

Different types of penetration tests can be performed depending upon the system and its needs. They can be manual, automated or a combination of the two.

Using these tools, testers systematically “attack” or compromise potential points of exposure, such as endpoints, web applications, servers, wireless networks, network devices, mobile devices and more.

After exploiting a discovered vulnerability, testers can use that finding to identify other weaknesses within the now-compromised system. In doing so, they are able to go deeper and discover access to more assets and data.

Once these vulnerabilities are exposed and identified, that information is made available to IT and network system managers. This now gives them the opportunity to identify next steps for resolution. Equipped with this information, IT professionals can determine how at-risk their infrastructure is and what consequences a similar attack from the outside would have on their resources and operations.

Once those risks are identified, it’s time to look at how to safeguard your assets from attacks. Some companies, including Aventis Systems, can not only identify the threats but also provide solutions that ensure that your infrastructure will no longer be vulnerable.

Why is Penetration Testing So Important?

Penetration testing has begun receiving lots of attention because, in today’s world, businesses can’t afford to allow network vulnerabilities. Being able to identify vulnerabilities and resolve potential danger areas is critical to maintaining a safe infrastructure.

Pen testing also allows a business to:

  • Ensure it is meeting compliance. Certain industries require annual and ongoing pen testing so that the enterprise can monitor and resolve vulnerabilities in the infrastructure.
  • Maintain confidentiality of data. Through pen testing, businesses can learn how long it will take for hackers to access data and can make sure security teams are able to prepare for such a threat.
  • Verify the security of the system configurations. An outside, independent tester is an excellent way to measure the effectiveness of the security team as well as identify any existing gaps in the system.
  • Provide training opportunities for network security operators. If a threat is found, this provides a safe and ideal environment for showing staff how to properly monitor for such a vulnerability.
  • Test technology before it is deployed. If technology is tested before being implemented, it will be easier to find vulnerabilities and save the time and expense of resolving them after they go live.

How Often Should Penetration Testing Be Done?

Like all precautions concerning IT system security, penetration testing is something that needs to be conducted on a regular schedule. Testing should be done at least once a year, although some internal pen testing might be done monthly. The frequency will depend on the type of test being done and the reason for the testing.

Each time an infrastructure is updated or new applications have been added, pen testing should be conducted to ensure that no new vulnerabilities have been created.

At Aventis Systems, we work with your small business to provide a full range of hardware, software and IT solutions. Our penetration testing services ensures that your network is safe from intrusions and breaches, so you can focus on your day-to-day operations.

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