Maintaining the security of your business data is more difficult and critical than ever before. Cybercrime is increasing exponentially, and it’s more sophisticated than ever before. Without the proper security testing and control measures in place, your business is under constant threat of a security breach.

External penetration testing is the first step in a security assessment. It uses the same resources that attackers use to get into networks, along with open source intelligence to determine IT security weaknesses that could compromise your data.

Sometimes, letting the people who maintain your security run the testing can warp the results because of the inherent bias of someone asked to confirm the quality of his own work. They’ll test the system in a way that confirms they did a good job. What you need is someone that can “act” like a bad guy and will try to break your security and get into your network, and that’s what you should want. You need someone impartial that can report back to you that they tried their best and used every ploy one of the bad guys would use and could not break in. NOW you know you’ve got a secure network.

Here’s an example: A few years ago we tested a large facility, and the internal IT staff was absolutely positive that their perimeter defenses were rock-solid and couldn’t be penetrated. They were positive that we could not penetrate their defenses, but we got into their network in about 5 minutes. What had they missed? Someone left the firewall password set to the manufacturer’s default and using it we “walked right in.” We didn’t even need to run a brute force password guesser to get into their network.

How Does Penetration Testing Work?

The tester will try to hack their way past the security in your IT system to exploit vulnerabilities. Formal and systematic testing strategies are employed and well documented.

When vulnerabilities are discovered, they will attempt to penetrate your network and/or computer systems using the same methods and techniques a criminal hacker would use.

The information discovered is used to improve your system security to minimize, if not eliminate, any potential hacker attack points.

External Penetration Testing should be part of your comprehensive risk management program to implement ongoing security improvements. Only certified professionals should perform these tests.

What’s Involved In External Penetration Testing?

Your IT professional will:

  • Attempt to perform an actual security breach.
  • Determine how easy it is for a hacker to penetrate your network.
  • Discover the extent to which your IT system can be compromised.
  • Analyze the results.
  • Compile a security testing report.
  • Brief you on the results.

If he determines weaknesses in your system, with your authorization he will:

  • Develop and implement a Total IT Security Plan.
  • “Plug” the security “holes” in your system.
  • Prevent intruders from jeopardizing your security and compromising your data.

What’s The Difference Between External & Internal Penetration Testing?

Internal penetration testing is much the same as external pen testing. However, internal pen testing is used when it’s assumed that an attacker already has access to your IT system. Both forms of penetration testing will give you an accurate picture of the security of your computer network.

Do We Need Ongoing Penetration Testing?

Yes… External Pen Testing should be a regular part of your IT security program, and it should be documented in a security testing policy. Hackers change their tactics almost daily. So you need to re-test your network frequently to make sure their new tactics won’t work.

The policy should detail:

  • The type of testing that was performed,
  • Which systems were tested (such as servers, web applications, laptops, and so on), and
  • How often the testing was performed.

You should also set standard dates for ongoing testing, such as four times a year for external systems, and twice a year for internal systems.

Our Data Is In The Cloud–Should We Still Worry?

Penetration Testing for Cloud Computing checks your cloud system by simulating the attack from malicious code. It’s essential to make sure that a policy has been established with your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) for this.

You can look for this in your Service Level Agreement to make sure your CSP, along with your company, has taken on this responsibility.

Other Pen Testing checks include:

  • Those for unused ports and protocols
  • To ensure that data stored in cloud servers is encrypted by default.
  • Checks for Two-Factor Authentication
  • That SSL certificates for cloud services were purchased from reputable, certified authorities.
  • That access points, data centers, and devices use appropriate security controls.
  • If the CSP offers cloning and virtual machines when needed.
  • Checks for proper input validation for cloud applications to prevent application attacks.

How Can Malware Steal My Data If It’s Stored in the Cloud?

Cloud computing attacks like these can put your data in the Cloud at risk:

  • CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) enticing a victim to submit a request, which is
    malicious in nature, to perform some task as the user.
  • Signature Wrapping Attacks that can compromise the security of a web application.
  • Side Channel Attacks can attempt to breach the user’s confidentiality by exploiting their shared resources in the Cloud.
  • Domain Name System attacks
  • Some cloud storage services like Dropbox even map your computer to the Cloud like a local drive so your cloud data looks like it’s a local resource.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed DoS attacks
  • Session hijacking attacks
  • Structured Query Language and injection (SQL) attacks

So, as you can see, you also need Penetration Testing for your Cloud data as well.

What Does Cloud Penetration Testing Look For?

  • Secure coding and password policies.
  • Password encryption.
  • To protect any information that is vulnerable.
  • To ensure security protocols are up to date.
  • That there’s a centralized authentication or single sign-on for Software-as-a-Service solution.
  • And more.

Do We Also Need Dark Web Scanning?

Yes… A Dark Web Scan looks for anything negative having to do with your organization. It can provide detailed info about this and help you make an informed decision about what your next steps should be.

Dark Web Scans can uncover illegal activities that may be taking place on the Dark Web that could harm your business. These include:

  • Credit Card Data
  • Stolen PayPal credentials
  • Banking information
  • Leaked data from employees (intentional or not)
  • Confidential Data from unsecured file transfers
  • Compromised accounts
  • Customer data
  • Financial information
  • Trademark and Copyright Infringements
  • IP Addresses and associated people/company/relationship information

How Do We Arrange For External Penetration Testing and Dark Web Scanning?

Your IT Service Company can do this for you. Right now we’re offering External Penetration Tests with a Bonus Dark Web Scan for $395. With the sophisticated and increasing cyber threats today, it’s a good idea for you to arrange for both.

Visit our Tech Insights for more information about cybersecurity and how to ensure it.