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Why is Penetration Testing Important?

In  IDG’s 2021 Security Priorities study, 90 percent of security leaders said they’re concerned that their organizations lack all the capabilities needed to address today’s cyber threats. As a result, they are making additional investments in security tools and services to bolster their defenses and better prepare for security incidents.

According to the study, almost all of them (98 percent) expect their security budgets to increase or stay the same over the next year. The overall average will double from $5.5 million to $11 million among small to midsize businesses planning to increase their security budgets.

However, various studies have found that increased security spending does not equate to a more assertive security posture. According to a 2020 report from the Ponemon Institute, an excess number of security tools can harm security preparedness. Organizations that use 50 or more tools ranked themselves 8% lower in their ability to detect a cyberattack than organizations using fewer tools.

The amount of planning performed by an organization had a far better effect on its ability to avoid disruptive security incidents. The study found that over the preceding two years, only 39 percent of organizations with a formal security response plan suffered a disruptive security incident, compared to 62 percent with less traditional or inconsistent methods.

The Value of Assessments and Audits

Planning starts with a thorough assessment of the existing IT infrastructure. Rahi’s Infrastructure Adoption for Security — part of our ELEVATE Services — includes an initial one-month evaluation and threat intelligence briefing that provides a baseline analysis of vulnerabilities. The Rahi team then works with the customer to investigate the threats and determine the likelihood of compromise.

While this is a great starting point, Rahi generally recommends penetration testing to gain more quantifiable data about the organization’s security posture. Penetration testing better equips our team to develop a security strategy and tailor an ecosystem of tools and services to the organization’s needs.

With penetration testing, security experts safely mimic real-world attacks by running exploits against systems and devices on the network. Penetration tests can perform internally and externally, typically including vulnerability scanning and web application assessments. The test team often uses some of the same tools that hackers use to gain unauthorized access to identify vulnerabilities from the hacker’s perspective. This allows the testing team to evaluate the effectiveness of security controls and prioritize any remediation efforts needed. 

Vulnerability Assessment And Penetration Testing Process

Hackers generally begin attacks with basic reconnaissance, and penetration testing takes the same approach. The test team gathers information about the environment, including operating systems, applications, and patch levels, then scan the network looking for open ports and available services.

The next phase is vulnerability testing. Using readily available tools, the test team scans systems looking for specific vulnerabilities to exploit, such as operating system bugs and security holes, weaknesses in firewalls and routers, insecure Web services, and more. The team may also use a password cracker, which makes brute force attempts at cracking password files. 

The result of penetration testing is a report outlining weaknesses within existing security controls, the risks associated with those vulnerabilities, and what action to take to reduce the risk. Although the reports should be thorough, they won’t consist of hundreds of pages of mind-numbing jargon. Upper management should gain enough information to facilitate the decision-making process and IT personnel enough detail to handle any needed remediation.

Penetration Testing Made Easy With Rahi

Rahi can assist your organization with pen testing and the remediation of any vulnerabilities and threats. We can also help you utilize the findings to develop a sound security strategy, enabling you to make suitable investments and maximize the value of every dollar spent.

Shreyans is a Solutions Engineering Manager at Rahi and he leads the Networking team. His experience includes enterprise, data center and service provider routing, switching and security solutions across multiple vendors, as well as cloud computing solutions such as Amazon Web Services and OpenStack. He has a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from San Jose State University. In his free time, he takes pictures of landscapes around the Bay Area.