7 Practices to Heed While Planning Your Penetration Test
Like the stars that go shadowed and unseen in the skylight, vulnerabilities lurk behind businesses sooner or later. A naked eye could miss those susceptibilities and prove harmful if not detected in the early hours. It is a risk any business function can’t afford to take. Here is where penetration testing as a service comes to the forefront by detecting vulnerabilities and preventing further exploit.
While enterprises route the path of vulnerability and penetration testing services, they uncover these hidden threat vectors. Similarly, they learn how to detect a vulnerability and stem them from the root. Whatever security strategy or practice you follow, conducting a penetration test sprouts as the initial requirement. Before diving into the best practices to heed while planning the pen test, let’s identify what the service line speaks.
Penetration testing as a service
Penetration testing, or simply a pen test, refers to a security practice where cyber security specialists perform a simulated cyberattack on a system. It is a process to detect and exploit vulnerabilities present in the enterprise IT environment. Typically performed on networks and computer systems, a pen test also stretches towards the web, mobile, wireless, and physical boundaries.
Who performs a penetration test?
The next question that comes to enterprise mind would be who performs a pen test. In fact, Penetration testing service providers take up the task with ease and expert professionalism. They help uncover vulnerabilities missed or undetected by the enterprise development and security team. Enterprises need to perform periodic penetration to keep their security posture upright. So, how often do you need a pen test? The test frequency depends on the company’s risk exposure, maturity, and resilience of implemented controls.
Best practices to follow while conducting a penetration test
So, you would be interested to know what needs to go prior while engaging with penetration testing as a service. Or what are the penetration testing requirements to be considered before you start a pen test? Here we enlist the top 7 practices to follow while you move towards the process: –
-Define your budget and scope
Testing the complete enterprise IT environment isn’t a feasible option from a business outlook. The main reason behind this is the budget constraint. Therefore, scoping your penetration testing environment is critical. Organizations need to consider high priority and low priority areas to determine the actual scope of their environment. Pen testers usually weigh operating systems, codebase, and configuration files as high-risk areas in software development projects. Application areas with no code or less code for internal business operations go to the low priority circle.
-Include financial and customer data sources
Data or information shoots as the most critical and biggest asset a business holds. Whether it is retail, government, banking or healthcare industry, customer data needs to get protected from any openness. If your enterprise has critical data assets, a penetration test becomes inevitable considering the security of confidential information. You need to conduct comprehensive and full-scale testing against your data sources. By doing this, you preserve the data inside and, at the same time, help meet global industrial regulations and standards. However, you should not keep the test limited to data sources. Consider the physical infrastructure that it connects on the other end.
-Consider all remotely accessible resources into the scope
Incorporating remote environments is an essential thing to do while performing your pen test. It could be building automation systems, remote resources, or employees. Also, remote resources lack the required security and become easy prey for attackers. Hence, including remote endpoints in your testing process will have benefits. Moreover, it would be easy for the pen testers to access and spot your endpoint security weaknesses and exposures.
-Following a solid testing methodology
Pen testers use different methodologies as a reference model for conducting tests. The yields or results from these also can vary accordingly. Some common standards or methodologies are OWASP, OSSTM, ISAFF, PTES, etc. Enterprises need to be mindful of choosing a pen testing method. Likewise, the technologies in use must lie in line with the objectives of your test. However, if you are picking the best penetration testing services, they will help you find the most ideal methodology.
-Organize and prepare for the test
Once you have identified your scope, resource, and methodology, preparing for the engagement process is the very next step. There are many things to prepare the way to the testing process. Try finding out which tests your cloud providers or hosting functionalities allow and provide authorization to perform. Likewise, allocate your staff to review test reports and fix the identified vulnerabilities. Also, you need to pre-schedule patching that should follow after testing and review get completed successfully. Outlining a clear picture before the engagement is vital as any changes during the process can affect your testing environment and budget.
-Create a communication strategy
Whatever be the scenario, smooth communication is the key to penetration testing. You need to maintain communication protocols between your team and the pen testing team to ensure everything goes smooth. For monitoring the progress of the testing process, you also need to conduct regular or periodic meetings. Also, ensure that there is a single point of contact on your team to answer any queries or critical information exchange. Enable your team staff with the correct time for training if required. However, it is better not to inform about the real-time attack. In that way, you could also test if they could catch and detect threats in action.
-Choose a qualified vendor
And the very last thing you require would be qualified hands to perform penetration testing. If in search for expert penetration testing service providers, look for the following traits: –
- If they use both manual and automated testing techniques for identifying vulnerabilities and advanced threat vectors.
- If they use commercial, open-source and custom tools to discover unknown resources (internal and external) that drive attacks.
- If they have the potential to exploit high-risk vulnerabilities, determining breach feasibility, impact, and persistence.
- If they have adequate skills and use advanced technologies to eliminate false positives.
- If they generate a complete testing report with identified openness, vulnerabilities, prioritized action plans and mitigation strategies.
- If they have the proper skill to conduct training and awareness sessions for the same.
A penetration test against your IT environment has many benefits on the go. It helps scrutinize the security layer, uncover hidden vulnerabilities, and help you test the resilience of implemented security controls and network strength. On the flip side, there are benefits of compliance, the vote of trust and business continuity with swift threat identification, incident reporting and remediation abilities.
All these can go fruitful if and only if you prepare well for vulnerability and penetration testing services. And that is where the blog has enlisted the top 7 ideas to consider and deploy while planning your penetration testing process. Data being the most critical thing, across business functions, it should be well-protected and guarded against sprouting security threats. An environment that is pen tested on a periodic clock is always a trusted name in any industry and domain.