Why Pentesting-as-a-Service is Vital for Business Security

Having a well-rounded cybersecurity defense strategy in place with the necessary technology coupled with strong security awareness training is a priority for businesses of every size across all industries. It is not enough for security professionals to only react as vulnerabilities crop up like a game of whack-a-mole on their organization’s attack surface. Proactivity is the name of the game in modern cybersecurity practices, and those who fall behind are the first to get beaten.

Managing vulnerabilities across the multitude of systems powering IT organizations has long been a thorn in the side of many IT security teams. It’s essentially a never-ending challenge for which dozens of tools have claimed solutions. Web applications are one of the best examples of this; complex logic with deep business functionality coded by security-conscious developers will still have flaws and, by their nature, these apps are often accessible from the public internet. This combination makes for particularly juicy targets to would-be attackers who may choose to flood potential victims with exploits in the hopes of finding a foothold beyond their firewall. As the security team responsible for protecting these assets, this often becomes a focal point for attention.

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While that focus is imperative to success, web app security must not be seen as the only important practice to engage with. Web application security can become burdensome and time-consuming, siphoning time from other valuable activities such as vulnerability management, asset discovery, network traffic analysis and incident response/recovery. Given the necessity of quickly deploying systems and software, the rising use of open source technology and the competitive nature of today’s digital-first world, there are more opportunities than ever for hackers to attack the rapidly expanding infrastructure of modern businesses.

Conducting regular penetration tests (pentests) is a proactive option that identifies, evaluates and mitigates risks. Pentesting employs ethical hackers to conduct planned cyberattacks against an organization’s entire infrastructure, which can then reveal any potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Those can be patched by the security team before they are exploited. Pentesting can greatly reduce security risks and is a vital element of a holistic security strategy. It presents a clear picture of the digital environment of the business and its vulnerability to attack by testing the effectiveness of existing security measures and providing an actionable report of the test’s findings.

There are a variety of options for pentesting that can suit most budgets, organization sizes, environment types and levels of complexity. Some of the most common pen tests include:

  • Network pentesting – Ideal for testing internal and external networks, software infrastructure and wireless network components.
  • Web app and API pentesting – Web app-focused; ethical hackers drive attention to the security of the design, code and implementation of the apps. The OWASP Top 10, a continuously updated report that highlights security concerns for web application security, ranking the 10 most critical, is used to cross-reference any flaws that might be on the list. This has steadily become one of the most common and valuable styles of pentests.
  • Mobile App pentesting – Mobile apps often have shared functionality with web apps and APIs, so tests of the executables (iOS/Android apps) can provide valuable insight into potential risks that can leverage OS and API integrations.
  • Social engineering pentesting – This focuses on popular social engineering attack methods like email phishing that are commonly used by threat actors to extract sensitive data.
  • Physical pentesting – This involves attempting to break into organizations physically via in-person implied trust and social engineering, as well as on-site exploits of Bluetooth and other wireless technologies.
  • Cloud pentesting– Targets the security strengths and weaknesses of cloud infrastructure and applications used by the organization.

Pen testing can be conducted in a variety of ways, and while there are benefits to scoping unique pentests for a given scenario, a newer, more effective approach is available to handle the most valuable and common among them.

The next evolution of traditional pentesting comes in the form of pentesting-as-a-service (PTaaS). This strategy is an alignment of DevOps and SecOps priorities and adds automation to continuously monitor networks and applications for potential risks to the knowledge of experienced pentesters who act in a consulting capacity.

For businesses that have more constrained budgets, PTaaS helps keep costs down as it removes the need to hire and train a team of security professionals for this aspect of security. PTaaS provides the convenience of a fully managed solution, allowing the organization to focus on its main business objectives without impacting resources because the pentesting is handled by certified security experts who will use the latest techniques, processes and tools that attackers do to find system weaknesses.

Organizations seeking PTaaS need to ensure the solution provides the capabilities to identify, assess and remediate threats on a continuous cycle. Test cycles must be conducted frequently to help the organization stay ahead of the curve, provide full visibility of its assets and track for new vulnerabilities, which will give a baseline on where improvements to its cybersecurity posture can be made. Moreover, pentesting is now a key compliance requirement for many industry standards and regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA and ISO 27001, meaning this element of security cannot be ignored.

The best defense is knowing your own organization’s weaknesses. By taking proactive action and investing in pentesting, organizations will reduce the risk of vulnerabilities while effectively protecting their digital assets. As the cost of data breaches rises, organizations can no longer sit idle. It’s good business to align the priorities of development, security and operations teams to protect the company, its customers and its data.

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Eren Cihangir

Eren Cihangir is a cybersecurity expert at Outpost24 Group. He works as a Product Specialist and Technical Liaison, helping organizations to implement solutions to address a wide range of cybersecurity challenges. Building from over a decade of wide-ranging experience in software development, vulnerability management, penetration testing, and business intelligence, Eren seeks ways for clients to incorporate excellent strategies to protect their critical operations and data.

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