Suffering a data breach can be one of the most financially devastating events to happen to your organization — period. According to CNET, the data breach of T-Mobile in July of 2021 will cost the company $350 million dollars in payouts.
Plus, having your organization’s name plastered all over the news for the wrong reasons can make it nearly impossible to maintain a solid reputation. So what can you do about it? Penetration testing is a core part of strengthening your security posture to help keep threat actors out of the equation. Below, we’ll discuss the top ten reasons why routine pentesting should be an integral part of your security policies and procedures (P&Ps).
1. Showcases Real-Time Attack Vectors
Expert penetration testers will perform a simulated attack on your network and systems so you can see how your organization matches up against the latest malicious techniques used by threat actors. With six different types of penetration testing services to utilize, you can obtain full-picture knowledge of your cybersecurity vulnerabilities without the damage caused by a real attack.
This gained clarity and understanding of where you stand against threat actors is one of the main reasons why pentests need to be run (at least yearly) in addition to vulnerability assessments. Simply put, the more you know, the more you can adapt to prevent future devastating attacks.
2. Uncovers and Explores Vulnerabilities
Using a penetrating testing framework designed specifically for your organization, pentesters will find and record where the weaknesses lie. But it doesn’t stop there. Depending on the goals of the penetration test, your hand-picked team of security experts may exploit those vulnerabilities to see just how much damage a threat actor could cause.
So, why do penetration testing? To see what vulnerabilities need to be addressed immediately. After the pentest, you’ll receive a list of prioritized vulnerabilities in your post-engagement report so you can address the most concerning issues first. This will allow you to focus your resources and shore up your weaknesses before the threat actors discover them.
3. Tests Your Internal Team
Even if your organization has a strict incident response protocol and remediation process, how do you know it will work? Some penetration tests give you the opportunity to put your response team to the test to see if they could handle an attack in the real-world.
This is done through setting up the engagement rules and limiting your team’s knowledge of the attack. Once the test is over, you’ll get full-transparency on whether or not the attack on your systems and/or network was identified by your internal response team and what steps they took to mitigate the attack.
4. Uncovers Areas of Weaknesses in Your Team’s Knowledge and Awareness
Penetration testing doesn’t just test your systems, it tests your employees. Assessing your own team’s cyber security awareness can be done by employing social engineering tactics during the pentest, so you can see where and how the human factor comes into play as a potential vulnerable access point into your organization.
With this knowledge, you can identify specific areas of your team’s knowledge that require additional training. From there, you can engage your employees with a cybersecurity training event so they feel empowered and ready to protect your business.
5. Protects Your Reputation
A data breach can do a lot of damage to the impression your organization leaves on its customers. Forbes reports that, “46 percent of organizations had suffered damage to their reputations and brand value as a result of a breach. Another 19 percent of organizations suffered reputational and brand damage as a result of a third-party security breach or IT system failure.”
If you can avoid the bad press of a data breach, you’ll be more likely to maintain your reputation and strengthen the trust and loyalty from your customers in your brand. Pentesting can go a long way in helping you achieve this goal because you’ll learn how to shore up your security, giving your customers added peace of mind.
6. Saves on Costs Long-Term
Although you’ll need to properly budget for penetration testing services, you could potentially avoid millions of dollars in damages from a cyber attack. In fact, IBM reports that the average cost of a data breach for 2022 is $3.86 million. With this amount of money on the line, it’s crucial to know what vulnerabilities are present within your organization — and how to mitigate the risks.
7. Can Reduce Operational Downtime
Certain cyberattacks — such as ransomware attacks — cause your systems and network operations and connectivity to stall or freeze entirely. Threat actors are then free to steal sensitive data, demand ransom in return for normal operations, or announce to the world that you’re their victim.
With a pentest, you can use the results to remediate issues and reduce the risk of downtime during a data breach. Additionally, pentest engagements can be done with little to no disruptions to your day-to-day operations.
8. Can Count as “Risk Analysis” for Regulatory Standards Compliance
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires penetration standing for your organization to remain compliant. Some regulatory standards like HIPAA, SOC2, and GDPR don’t specifically say a pentest is required.
However, many regulations require a risk analysis — such as routine pentests — be in place to meet compliance rules. When you have pentest experts you can rely on, you can focus on other areas of regulation requirements instead.
9. Keeps Leadership and Management Aware of Your Cybersecurity Status
A formal penetration test provides you with the research and reporting you need to convey your current security posture — both positive and negative results — to those outside of your IT department. With this knowledge, your organizational leaders can work as a team to address issues before they can negatively impact any or all departments.
10. Can Help You Make Informed Security Budgeting Decisions
If your organization’s pentest report includes a multitude of vulnerabilities (and many do), you can strengthen your case for adjusting your budget to include security awareness, additional testing, and the prioritization of other organizational security needs. Later down the road, you can use additional pentesting to showcase to your organization’s executives how much you’ve improved since the initial pentest results.
The Need for Penetration Testing Isn’t Going Anywhere
It’s clear that threat actors will continue attacking organizations worldwide. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts a $10.5 Trillion dollar global loss to cyber attacks annually by 2025. However, knowledge of this stunning prediction gives us power — the power to do something about it.
With penetration testing results in hand, your organization can mitigate risks and improve your security posture one prioritized step at a time. For more ways to stop threat actors in their tracks, download your free copy of the guide, Learn to Avoid Cyber Threats in 5 ½ Easy Steps today.