With all the different threats out there on the internet, from hackers to malware and beyond, you need to be protected if you hope to successfully run a business there. There are many steps you can take to keep your data secure, from installing firewalls to even just having good system architecture, but one step you can’t afford to miss is regular penetration testing of your systems.
What Is Penetration Testing?
Put simply, a penetration test, also called a pen test, involves hiring security experts liketo attempt to break into your systems.
This can be done externally, to simulate attacks carried out purely over the internet and test your systems’ resilience against an unauthorised incursion, or internally, to determine how deep into your systems an agent with no access privileges but who is physically present on your premises can get.
Both kinds of tests can also be carried out with different amounts of information about your system in the hands of the testers to mirror the different levels of foreknowledge an attacker might have. These range from black box testing, where testers go in blind, to grey box testing where they are given vague, approximate, or incomplete information, and white box testing where you provide them with detailed information ahead of time.
Why Is It Important?
Penetration testing is useful because it shines a light on any gaps in your security and lets you know if sensitive data is at risk, and to what extent. If, for example, your site passes an external black box pen test, but then fails a white box test, you will know that it is important to know who knows your system architecture and whether that information is likely to be kept secret.
Because the testers are security experts, they can often advise you of how to patch the flaws in your security measures, and help you insure that critical business information is protected in the most up-to-date way.
Of course, new threats are always arising on the information superhighway—there’s always some new piece of malware, talented cracker, or innovative hacking program that you’re at risk of falling victim to. This is why penetration testing needs to be carried out on a regular basis. If you want to be cynical, it’s also important because frequent security testing is a requirement of the, and major credit card companies will require that you meet this if you want to process transactions through them.