Although vulnerability scans and assessments are crucial for maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture, penetration testing goes beyond the routine to thoroughly test your organization against potential security threats. There are 6 main types of penetration tests that can be performed:
- External Network Penetration Testing
- Internal Network Penetration Testing
- Social Engineering Testing
- Physical Penetration Testing
- Application Penetration Testing
- Wireless Penetration Testing
Red Team testing may utilize all types of pentesting to pose a simulated attack on your systems and networks. But before you begin this ultimate test, you’ll want to consider starting with an internal network penetration test to identify vulnerabilities from the inside out.
Here, we’ll discuss the four reasons internal pentesting is essential for the success of your business.
1. Automated Vulnerability Scans Can Miss Inside Threats
Network Security Assessment Software (NSAS) are programs designed to automatically scan your systems for major vulnerabilities and provide you with findings through a generated report.
A vulnerability scan by itself may not detect deeper threats, and sometimes there may be false positives that should be investigated. This investigation — called a vulnerability assessment — occurs when a cybersecurity professional analyzes the scan results to give you a more in-depth look at your security flaws and potential mitigation strategies.
However, even with vulnerability scans and assessments, these reports typically only show vulnerabilities outside your organization, such as through public-facing websites.
Weaknesses from the inside of the network, such as unpatched applications or easily hacked employee passwords, will often go undetected by an automated scan. This is because these scans primarily look for actual viruses and other outside weaknesses and they don’t dig deeper inside your systems and network for vulnerabilities — an internal network pentest is needed for an in-depth look within your systems and networks.
2. Internal Network Pentests Reveal What a Threat Actor Can Do With Inside Access
Many organizations focus on keeping threats out, but neglect protecting their system from threats already inside the network. Ignored internal threats may include the actions of an untrained employee, a disgruntled, past employee who still has permissions, or a contractor who has access to your systems. Unfortunately, more damage can be done once a cyber criminal is inside your network.
An internal network pentest can show you what permissions and additional access points can be exploited by a hacker by moving laterally through your systems.
This simulated attack identifies and showcases the scale of your vulnerabilities that would not be included in a different test, such as an external penetration test. Since this focuses on the steps a threat actor would take after entry into your systems, you’ll gain real insight into your current security defenses. Common questions answered by internal pentesting via a testing report include:
- How effective is my security once a threat actor is inside the network?
- Are there vulnerabilities within my network that can be used to gain additional access or to compromise the system’s infrastructure?
- What is the return on investment with my current security measures?
- Are there weak passwords or outdated credentials that can be used to escalate internal network privileges?
- What are the gaps in my cybersecurity strategy?
3. Other Pentests Don’t Allow Internal Access
Since every pentest has a different focus, most other pentest types don’t allow a tester to move freely within a given network. For example, a web application pentest focuses on finding vulnerabilities within your web application(s) once they have been launched online. However, after all weaknesses and loopholes are found, the objective of the application pentest would be successful; this means that this test ends where an internal network pentest would begin.
Internal network penetration testing is the best way to identify what an insider could exploit with internal access to a network to compromise the system. An internal pentest may be needed when:
- Your internal infrastructure is upgraded or changed.
- You wan to see how far a hacker can navigate laterally through your systems.
- You were a recent victim of a ransomware attack.
- Your company underwent changes, such as new employee positions, additional software or applications, or security measures added to your internal network.
4. You Can Shore Up Internal Security and Awareness
A full report from the internal pentest will show how and where pentesters were able to move within your system, along with remediation recommendations. With this report, you can beef up your internal security while bringing awareness to your staff.
For example, many organizations find that they need to add multi-factor authentication and better password protection policies to prevent future attacks from the inside. In some cases, additional cybersecurity awareness training may be recommended to educate your employees and help them become a solid line of defense on the inside. Other recommendations may include patches or removing unused, authorized accounts from your system to further improve your security.
Trusted Internal Network Penetration Testing
Mitnick Security Consulting, founded by Kevin Mitnick, prides itself on providing expert penetration testing and recommendations from some of the best cybersecurity experts — The Global Ghost Team — in the industry. Paired with routine vulnerability assessments, pentesting can keep you one step ahead of threat actors and other threats to your organization.
To protect your organization from the inside, explore your options with internal network penetration testing today.