The importance of routine penetration tests
Penetration tests are an invaluable tool for checking the IT and cybersecurity readiness of an enterprise. Any organization, no matter the size, benefits from a thorough pen test. It establishes the strengths and weaknesses of a network, along with staff readiness. For long-term development, integrity, and continued business operations, conducting routine pen tests are essential in today’s threat-adjacent ecosystem.
The frequency of pen tests remains speculative. Some organizations are comfortable with annual pen tests, while others perform them every few months. But is this enough? How often should perform them, and what organizations benefit most from penetration testing?
Why you need routine pen testing
There are two primary reasons to routinely conduct penetration tests: security and compliance. Security is an essential characteristic of a thriving enterprise. Threats and cyber-attacks evolve all the time. Penetration tests check for weaknesses and updates potentially impacting your enterprise network.
The other is for regulatory compliance standards. Your industry will involve different kinds of data and information, customer or otherwise. Complying with security standards surrounding that data is important to avoid penalties and avoid unwanted complications.
Reasons for pen testing
Frequent release of product or software
Does your enterprise release routine updates to its software? Or, do you have a frequent product release timeframe? These short development cycles are agile and fast-paced, meaning there’s a greater chance of coding errors during production and delivery.
Infrequent penetration tests will leave the dev cycle and business open to serious intrusion risks, and therefore, need frequent testing. Aligning your pen tests with the dev process is critical for ongoing stability, ideally between each iteration of code release and new updates/products.
Services and web apps are customer adjacent
Internal data and software development are easier to manage and protect. But when your services, web apps, and data collection involves a client base, you have to prioritize external factors.
It’s easy to see why, given that clients, remote networks, and external connections are easier targets for hackers. Choices are abundant, fewer protective measures in place, and slower response in case of a breach regarding client data. Penetration tests check for holes and potential intrusions. Therefore, they should be conducted often, especially with larger, complex networks. Monthly or even weekly pen tests are recommended.
Lack of Internal Resources
Are you short on IT staff or cybersecurity experts? Do you lack the budget for large-scale IT infrastructure? These are scenarios where frequent pen tests are recommended. Lack of resources increases enterprise vulnerability and your ability to respond to breach events. Worse, without routine pen testing, your network and assets could be compromised without you realizing such as with ransomware and malicious encryption.
It’s best to use third-party services for thorough pen tests to properly assess the competency of your security posture.
High-Risk Functions and Industry
Various institutions and industries are likelier targets of cyber-attacks. The healthcare industry, for instance, is a high-priority target for malicious actors due to its incredibly valuable data and weaker IT infrastructure.
If your enterprise falls in vulnerable sectors (like tech and finance), it’s recommended to conduct thorough pen tests on a frequent basis. That’s especially the case if you’re impacted by other factors we’ve discussed so far.
What is the best form of penetration testing?
The modern digital world is always changing and so are its demands. Traditional pen testing is still a serviceable, reliable way to check the health of your network. Though, with today’s challenges, it may no longer be enough.
Traditional pen tests follow the standard model of using internal or third-party resources to test the competency of a network. Depending on the pen test, it could grade everything from downtime response to intrusion detection. After the pen test is conducted, a created report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the tested network(s).
These methods, however, lack the agility to compete with today’s cyber threats. Continuous penetration testing is a preferred method for larger enterprises that need faster resolutions. As the name suggests, it encourages active monitoring to seek out weaknesses in a different networks and IT layers. To aid budgets and financial concerns, specialized vendors even offer pen tests as a service (or PaaS).
What works best for an organization varies. Networks and SMBs lacking resources to manage their IT would benefit from third-party assistance. Vulnerable, priority-target industries would also find continuous pen tests a good fit.
How do I get started?
If you can’t remember the last time your organization performed a penetration test, now’s a good time to start. You can learn about the process and utilize in-house IT resources. Or, take advantage of third-party expertise through managed providers for help.
Bytagig is an experienced MSP with pentest services and other IT-centric benefits. For more information, you can contact us today.
Bytagig is dedicated to providing reliable, full-scale cyber security and IT support for businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups in a variety of industries. Bytagig works both remotely with on-site support in Portland, San Diego, and Boston. Acting as internal IT staff, Bytagig handles employee desktop setup and support, comprehensive IT systems analysis, IT project management, website design, and more. Bytagig is setting the standard for MSPs by being placed on the Channel Future’s NexGen 101 list.