2022 Annual Penetration Testing Intelligence Report. Read Now

4 April, 2022

5 Reasons Why Pen Testing Is a Top Business Priority

1. The cost of recovering from a successful cyber-attack is MASSIVE compared to the cost of being proactive and performing Penetration Tests.

The all-encompassing idea that this reason falls under the umbrella of routes back to the old cliché “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” IBM reported that on average, the modern-day data breach on an organization in 2021 ran a steep price of USD 2.24 million.  

Penetration testing is a proactive approach to finding any vulnerabilities or weak points within a digital asset that would allow cyber-attackers to execute a successful cyber-attack. Not only can effective penetration testing reduce the risk of a data breach significantly, but it costs exponentially less than the alternative of footing the bill for multi-million-dollar recovery costs (yes, even the most expensive penetration tests). Don’t just take our word for it, fill out this scoping form with basic information about the assets that you’re interested in keeping secure to receive a customized quote from the Penetration Testing market leader, BreachLock

2. The losses suffered by cyber-attacks and data breaches extend well beyond their monetary value – they can cost an organization its reputation in the blink of an eye.

Businesses spend years, decades, and sometimes even centuries building up their brand, clientele, and public trust. This takes an immense amount of patience, drive, and consistency. An article written by Tim Ryan in Harvard Business Review addressed data protection and cyber security as the number one contributor of building trust with clients, employees, and other businesses in 2022.  

If you run a business that requires clients, employees, or other businesses to share sensitive or confidential data, falling victim to a cyber-attack or data breach can be detrimental. Not only will compiling information about a data breach into a report exhaust a lot of resources when preparing to notify those who were compromised, but the reputational damage could render itself irreparable if client, employee, or public concerns aren’t addressed properly and in a timely manner. Not to mention, a tarnished reputation would undoubtedly cause some degree of fiscal turmoil by hindering the hacked organization’s ability to generate enough revenue to sustain itself.  

3. In some cases, omitting regularly scheduled penetration tests is not an option due to the compliance regulations in certain industries.  

Whether your business is operated in the US or Europe, it is not uncommon for penetration testing to be mandatory for compliance, especially in certain industries such as healthcare and financial services. For example, healthcare businesses are often privy to sensitive patient information. HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was enacted in the US to require the protection of sensitive patient health information by prohibiting companies from sharing that information without patient consent. For cybersecurity-related purposes, this information is commonly referred to as ePHI, or electronic protected health information. HIPAA requires that healthcare entities test their security controls on a regular basis. 

Failing to keep patient information safe in violation of HIPAA can result in hefty fines and an unsalvageable reputation for otherwise trusted healthcare professionals and businesses. Ensuring that an organization’s technical infrastructure is impenetrable by outside hackers is imperative to the welfare of patients. The US department of Health and Human Services (HHS) strongly suggests that healthcare entities regularly conduct vulnerability scans on their systems and that periodic penetration tests are conducted in their Q1 2022 newsletter.  

Similar to HIPAA compliance for the healthcare industry in the US, there are other compliances that require some degree of penetration testing such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU. With participating organizations in 60 countries, PCI DSS compliance is mandated by credit card companies on organizations to ensure secure payment processing. GDPR compliance is more general, meant for general data protection in the European Union. Regardless of the type of data being protected or industry, penetration testing is a key component of proactive data protection.  

4. Penetration Testing is one of the first steps towards proactively developing and implementing effective security measures.  

Knowing what you’re up against when it comes to securing your business’s IT infrastructure and applications from cyber-criminals is essential in proactively developing effective security measures that follow industry standards. Whether it be a web application, mobile application, internal or external network, or API, penetration testing on a regular basis will highlight areas of improvement to focus on.  

A good place to start when looking for vulnerabilities is by seeking out known vulnerabilities identified by NIST and OWASP standards. NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and OWASP (The Open Web Application Security Project) aid penetration testers in the vulnerability seeking process by providing lists of common vulnerabilities with official nomenclature that is widely understood and utilized by all cybersecurity professionals involved in penetration testing. In addition to naming common vulnerabilities, NIST provides a common numerical benchmark for vulnerability severity ratings.  

However, the job doesn’t end after identifying and discovering the exploitable vulnerabilities – it extends into effectively remediating them in a timely manner. The vulnerabilities and weaknesses should be prioritized according to the threat severity and business context to prioritize the remediation and mitigation efforts, enabling effective security posture building and management for your organization.  

5. Conducting penetration tests to stay ahead of cyber-criminals by detecting vulnerabilities before they’re exploited can save an organization from downtime. 

“Exploitable Vulnerabilities, detect them before Attackers exploit them” 

Organizations should detect exploitable vulnerabilities before attackers are able to discover and exploit them. Once a cyber adversary exploits a vulnerability, it can result in significant downtime for the business which would cost much more than the cost of remediating the vulnerability in the first place. During a cyber incident, an organization will no longer be just patching the exploited vulnerability, but also identifying changes the attacker has made, reverting them, discovering the damage caused, and containing the incident. These activities coupled with the business downtime will cost an organization much more than vulnerability remediation in the first place. 

Waiting for a cyber-attack to occur to take any vulnerabilities seriously is far from ideal. Like many things in life, erring on the side of caution is the best practice when it comes to keeping sensitive data safe, secure, and protected. As Seemant Sehgal, CEO and Founder of BreachLock highlighted in an interview with The European, when a criminal robs a bank, it’s evident within minutes that something has gone missing. In a cloud environment, however, it could take quite some time for anyone to realize that data has been stolen since it can be copied and shared while remaining intact. Not taking the precautionary step to ensure that no exploitable vulnerabilities are left unpatched poses a serious threat that can easily be solved with penetration testing and remediation efforts. Taking the time to truly understand the weak points of your organization’s infrastructure is essential for staying ahead of cyber-criminals and lessening the likelihood of a successful attack.

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