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OP-ED: Penetration Testing — Securing the IT Infrastructure

The aim of penetration testing is to help businesses find out where their IT infrastructure is most likely to face an attack.

Do you know how many accounts will be breached in the year 2023? Well, the number is 33 billion and according to estimation, there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. Cyber-attacks are more concerning than it seems, and it has reputational and economic effects too. Some of the alarming data written demonstrate that there is a high need of taking security measures:

  • 6% of companies report paying a ransom amount to regain control of their IT systems.
  • Phishing attacks increased by 48% in 2022.
  • 40% of the cyber threats are now occurring directly through the supply chain.
  • The cost of cybercrime has risen by 10% in the past year.

To avoid these malicious attacks various procedures such as penetration testing has been used extensively. Here’s what you need to know about penetration testing.

What is penetration testing and why is it important to perform?

Penetration testing is a security exercise in which an expert attempts to find out and exploit the vulnerabilities in an IT infrastructure system. It endeavors to imitate the attack process to identify the weak spots in the system. Moreover, the 3 types of penetration testing are:

  • Black box penetration testing: In this kind of pen testing, the tester is provided with the minimum amount of information. The tester will be able to execute the test with limited knowledge of the organization. And thereafter, the tester provides input and witnesses the output generated by the system.
  • Grey box penetration testing: In this penetration testing, some amount of information is provided. The test provides a good idea of what a targeted attack might look like, without requiring the tester to spend significant time in collecting the information.
  • White box penetration testing: This penetration testing is generally referred to as white box testing. In this type of testing all kinds of information is provided to the tester. The tester has complete knowledge or access to the target and its features.
Why is it important to continuously conduct penetration testing

These penetration tests have many benefits which include;

  • Reveal Vulnerabilities: The penetration testing hovers around the existing weaknesses in the systems or application network infrastructure. The habits of the staff could result in malicious infiltration and data breaches. The reports inform on the security vulnerabilities to make hardware and software improvements.
  • Show real risks: Penetration testers try to exploit identified the vulnerabilities. The moment the tester detects an intrusion; the process of investigation starts. Later, the testers discover the intruders and block all of them. Further, the feedback from the test will tell what actions need to be taken.
  • Ensure business continuity: Security testing is done to make sure business operations are running all the time. These tests ensure that communications and access are available 24/7. Since the disruptions have a negative impact on the business.
  • Maintain trust: A cyber security assault cause distrust amongst the customers. The suppliers and partners become apprehensive regarding the investment in the business. If the company is known for its systematic and secure reviews, it enhances its reliability.
  • Testing cyber defense capability: The testing team detects attacks and responds adequately and on time. This process tells the robustness of the system in case of any cyber-attack attempt. The feedback from the test will improve the defense system.

Owing to all the benefits of IT penetration testing, these are required to perform regularly. Let us now understand the penetration vs vulnerability assessment.

Penetration testing vs vulnerability assessment

Penetration testing refers to the process of simulating an attack against a system to find out the weaknesses in its security. It is generally performed by certified penetration testers who apply numerous attacks. It is suited for companies that have complex applications and deal with humongous data.

On the other hand, vulnerability assessment is the process of assessing and detecting vulnerabilities in the website, network, application, or devices is called vulnerability assessment. We can say that vulnerability assessment is necessary for multimillion-dollar SaaS or e-commerce startups.

Why is it important to continuously conduct penetration testing for a strong security system

Penetration testing aims to help businesses find out where their IT infrastructure is most likely to face an attack. It is necessary to examine the overall security of the IT infrastructure. A successful cyber-attack holds high cost and no company should wait for an attack to happen. It is imperative to address the shortcomings of the system before they become liabilities to the business.

Types of penetration testing
Network vulnerabilities typically fall into 3 categories; software, hardware, and human. Here are the various types of testing:

  • Web application pen testing: It searches out the places in an application that is open to exploitation by a hacker.
  • Network security pen testing: When it comes to the security of a network, the experts use network penetration tests to examine the places a hacker might exploit in numerous networks, systems, network devices, etc.
  • Physical penetration testing: It measures the strength of a company’s existing security tools. It looks for the weaknesses vulnerable to discovery and manipulation. The industries which are concerned about these attacks are casinos, banking institutions, technology firms, healthcare institutions, hospitality services, etc.
  • Cryptocurrency penetration testing: The cryptocurrency pen tests look for weaknesses in the applications used in cryptocurrency transactions. They also check the social engineering aspect like phishing attempts on the employee, vendor, or other stakeholders of the company.
  • Cloud security penetration testing: Cloud security testing is crucial in helping the various companies invested in cloud technology. The flexibility rendered by solutions such as IaaS and PaaS technology exposes organizations to various security threats.
Future of penetration testing

The security testing processes are going to evolve in the coming time. In the future, artificial intelligence is also expected to get amalgamated with the pentest procedures. There will be usage of machine learning and artificial intelligence in:

  • Information gathering and reconnaissance.
  • Vulnerability assessment/scanning.
  • Exploitation.
  • Reporting.

According to Research Nester analysis, the global penetration testing market is going to flourish with a CAGR of 14.9% during the forecast period 2022 to 2031. Furthermore, the revenue of the market is expected to increase from USD$1395.6 million in 2021 to USD$5537.0 million by 2031.

Currently, the prominent companies in the domain of the penetration testing market are; Secureworks, Synopsys, CrowdStrike, Coalfire Labs, Indium Software, Cigniti Technologies, Trustwave, Cisco, and HackerOne.

Other than this, some of the recent developments in the domain of penetration testing are;

  • In October 2022, a prominent company name Veracode announced the enhancement of its continuous software security platform. The security now includes container security.
  • In April 2022, Rapid7 announced the formation of the Rapid7 Cybersecurity Foundation, after receiving its initial USD$1 million in funding. This foundation aims to shut the security achievement gap.

In a nutshell, to take charge of a company’s security, it is important to address the vulnerability issues before these trivial issues become lethal data breach attacks. Owing to this, penetration testing companies are going to flourish in the future, due to high demand from the various business.



PC Tech

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