Can Network Penetration Testing Give Business Leaders Cybersecurity Peace of Mind?
When businesses fail to take every precaution to defend against cybercriminals, your organization typically falls into three groups.
- You’ve been hacked and are trying to shore up your defenses.
- You’ve been hacked and don’t even know it.
- Your network is the low-hanging fruit digitals thieves are going to pluck.
Unless your organization fell victim to a ransomware attack or a cybercriminal didn’t bother to effectively mask a blunt-force hack, it’s not uncommon for breaches to go unnoticed. Marriott International, a Fortune 500 corporation, was stunned to discover hackers siphoned off the identity data of 500 million customers over four years without being undetected. In 2019, companies routinely discovered they had been hacked after discovering their data was for sale on the dark web. These are just a sliver of the data breaches reported by Security Magazine from corporations that everyday people consider safe.
- Capital One – 106 million records
- State Farm – Unknown number of records
- Dubsmash – 162 million records
- MyFitnessPal – 151 million records
- First American Financial Corp. – 885 million records
- Quest Diagnostics/AMA – 24 million records
- DoorDash – 5 million records
- Choice Hotels – 700,000 records
- European Hotel Group – 600,000 records
One would expect that these and other high-profile corporations would have such heightened cybersecurity that only the world’s most skilled hacker could penetrate their system. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Regardless of size or resources, vulnerabilities may exist that an online thief can easily exploit. The only way to know with certainty that your operation is truly secure is to test it. Rather than suffer costly data breaches, decision-makers are quickly turning to cybersecurity specialists to run cost-effective network penetration testing.
How Does Network Penetration Testing Work?
Also called “pen testing,” a cybersecurity expert leverages wide-reaching techniques to attack your system. The fundamental idea is to simulate the way a top-tier hacker would approach infiltrating a system, without giving your staff advanced warning. The individual or team that carries out this simulation is typically called “ethical” or “white” hackers in contrast to those who work with the criminal underground on the dark web. These are network penetration testing strategies that may be deployed.
- Perimeter Testing: This facet identifies open ports or services that could be exploited.
- Phishing Schemes: An ethical hacker runs emails scams at unsuspecting employees. Encouraged to click on a link or download a file, this strategy tests your team’s cyber readiness.
- Social Engineering: This sophisticated cyber scheme uses human interactions to gain the confidence of an employee. The goal is to have someone slip up and give away login credentials or valuable data.
- Deep Scans: This technique simulates an attack to determine how many in-place cybersecurity systems are triggered to defend and deter against a breach.
- Maintaining Access: Once an ethical hacker penetrates the system, the next phase involves remaining in your network. In the case of Marriott International, digital burglars maintained control for years. If a digital thief can do this to your organization, not one shred of existing or future data is safe.
It may come as something of a surprise, but simple missteps such as leaving software unpatched or not using multi-factor authentication for employee login profiles can present your system as the low-hanging fruit to garden variety hackers. A cybercriminal could be incrementally mining your valuable data right now and trickling it out on the dark web. How would you even know?
Network Penetration Testing Gives Business Professionals Peace of Mind
An effective penetration test poses no danger to the organization. The process mimics cyberattacks as a way to conduct valuable reconnaissance. After the blind testing has been completed, a report will be generated that highlights the way or ways the ethical hackers penetrated your defenses.
With this fact-based information in hand, industry leaders can circle back and close vulnerabilities. The network penetration testing report also becomes a resource to educate employees about the need for ongoing cybersecurity vigilance. If you are a business leader who loses sleep about cybersecurity, network penetration testing delivers the knowledge you need to rest easy.