Posted on: April 19th, 2016 by Nicole Iovine

Are External Penetration Tests worth the Cost?Cyber attacks come in all different shapes and sizes. Hackers routinely target VPNs, websites, and email servers in an attempt to wreak havoc on your network. This leads organizations to ask an important question: Could my business mitigate a cyber attack?

In order to answer this question, most organizations will contract the services of a white hat hacker to perform an external penetration (pen) test on their network. When businesses perform pen tests, they gain actionable data on the threats and vulnerabilities present on their network.

If your business is vulnerable to an attack, an external pen test will give your organization the insight it needs to minimize the impact of an attack. When you know your weaknesses, you can apply fixes that strengthen your organization’s security platform. Pen tests are costly, yet they could prove to be pivotal in the overall sustainability of your operation.

Evaluating the Viability of a Pen Test for Your Business

Organizations can opt to take two routes for a pen test: they can perform the test themselves, or they can contract a security provider to perform the test on their behalf. The benefits of each route can provide somewhat predictable results.

Businesses will commonly use tools such as Kali Linux in order to find vulnerabilities in their services. While this distribution (distro) is free, you run the risk of encountering blind spots as your IT crew may overlook critical vulnerabilities in services that they neglect to check.

A professional pen test gives your business the same type of visibility into your network that a black hat hacker may possess. A professional pen test can provide visibility into your network’s security that may have been overlooked by your IT staff. More importantly, your business may be required to contract a 3rd party to perform an annual penetration test to fulfill the requirement of an audit.

When you begin your search for a vendor that can perform these tasks, it is not uncommon to see low end pen tests cost a couple thousand dollars as a fully accredited managed service provider may utilize a team hackers to find vulnerabilities on your network. These tests could certainly become costly for your organization, however, a breach could prove to be even more costly.

Pen Testing has Become More Important than Ever

After all, if a hacker breaches your security measures, the integrity of your data is at stake. More nefarious actors have chosen to encrypt the data that they breach, while holding that data for ransom; this is called “ransomware” and we’ll be covering this topic in more detail next week. Other hackers may try to sell your data on the black market.

If your business relies upon its reputation of information security, a data breach could pose more than just financial risk. Reputational risk could be a difficult factor to deal with, considering the fact that your business could stand to receive significant media coverage due to the data breach.

Stay One Step Ahead of the Hackers (Hack or Get Hacked)

With so many high profiles hacks in recent years, it is important to note that businesses of any size can become the target of a cyber attack. Here are 5 quick tips to help you keep your business safe from attacks.

  • Always Run Updates on Servers & PCs
  • Enforce Content Filtering on all Web Browsing Sessions
  • Only Allow Company Approved Equipment on the Network
  • Provide Regular Security Awareness Training to Employees
  • Enrich Your Security Architecture with Firewalls, Anti-Virus & Email Filtering

What to Remember When Hiring a Pen Tester

When you begin seeking out pen testing services, your organization must ask the right questions of the potential vendor in advance. The easiest way to gauge whether or not you’ve found the right pen testing solution is to ask for an example of a redacted report that they’ve provided to another client.

Your vendor may or may not be able to provide you with this information. With that in mind, you’ll know exactly what to expect at the end of the penetration testing process. Even if your pen testing firm can’t provide a redacted report, they’ll likely have some sort of presentation that goes over all the major security areas that their processes will scan for.

If your business adheres to HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI-DSS, or another type of popular industry standard, you’ll want to contract a penetration testing firm that can specifically ensure that your organization can pass an information security audit pertaining to the particular guidelines that govern your industry.

If you want to better secure your business but aren’t sure where to start, give Wolf Technology Group a call at (833) 482-6435 or contact us online. We can conduct a network assessment that will give you complete insight into your existing network, pinpoint potential problem areas, and outline opportunities for improvement. Click the banner below for more details!

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