Organization leaders like yourself often ask, “do we need computer software penetration testing?” You’ve read about cybersecurity threats and heard about this type of penetration testing, but don’t really know if penetration testing is right for you–or more importantly, whether you need it. It helps to understand what software vulnerability testing accomplishes, who needs it, and why it’s beneficial.
What Is Computer Software Penetration Testing
Penetration testing can look for application layer flaws, network and system level flaws, and even opportunities to compromise physical security barriers too.
A penetration test involves a cybersecurity expert (or team of them):
- Identifying where a criminal might target you and what they might be after
- Determining how they would be likely to attack
- Testing how your defenses would fare
- Gauging the possible magnitude of damage
- Providing insights to help you address the issues found and make a proactive plan to correct them
Computer software penetration testing specifically focuses on finding weak points in software for quality assurance and as part of risk management.
More in-depth than the high-level automated testing of a vulnerability assessment, a penetration test involves manual effort to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. While a scan is like a reconnaissance attempt to see what’s up, a thorough penetration test (sometimes called a pen test) will reveal the less obvious holes that risk real compromise.
Do I Need Computer Software Penetration Testing?
Any organization that doesn’t want to have its own proprietary software or software from third parties hacked needs computer software penetration testing. Presumably, that should include you.
Financial services firms, computer software companies, and managed service providers are all good candidates for computer software penetration testing, among other industries.
Still, there may be resistance to the idea. The reasons we most frequently hear include:
- We keep our computer software up to date with security patches and bug fixes
- Our organization already has its own IT team doing software vulnerability testing
- No one is going to want to attack our business. We’re not big enough/important enough/well-known enough/_______ enough
- We can’t afford it
Yet the reality is that the best defense is a strong offense. Be proactive rather than reactive with penetration testing to identify the vulnerabilities bad actors might exploit–before they do it for you. Regrettably, internal QA teams can be too close to the company’s software to objectively test it. Cyber criminals can make money in a variety of ways through cyber attacks, so there’s really no organization that isn’t a possible target.
As for the cost of penetration testing, there are ways to mitigate the expense while keeping the test effective for your needs. Plus, when you consider that a distributed denial of service attack can cost an average company over $2.5 million or that a run-of-the-mill data breach can cost as much as $3.86 million, pen testing is a bargain.
This means that everyone should have penetration testing done at least annually as a best practice. At the same time, there are many industries in which penetration testing is required for compliance purposes. We’ve talked in the past about compliance requirements like HIPAA, FDIC, NERC-CIP and PCI standards, and there are many others.
Top Reasons for Computer Software Penetration Testing
1. Stay current.
Keeping up with cyber threats is an ongoing battle. But penetration testing helps identify vulnerabilities before cyber criminals discover and exploit them as part of your ongoing effort to secure your computer software.
2. Be proactive.
There are many different types of cyber criminals, but the one thing they have in common is that they are highly motivated. They aren’t going to stop attacking just because they are slowed down by basic security protocols. They will actively try to find your vulnerabilities and breach them. Penetration testing proactively works to find any openings first.
3. Another set of eyes.
You may have the best IT team on the planet, but it’s hard to clearly see a flaw in something that you know intimately. Even the Pentagon turned to outsiders to test its cyber fortifications. In 2016, it paid a bounty to volunteer hackers who identified security issues affecting its public, non-classified computer systems. In just three months more than 100 previously unnoticed security issues were uncovered.
4. Plan ahead.
In addition to providing the information needed to bolster security, the penetration testing’s assessment of potential impacts of successful attacks gives your organization the opportunity to plan its response.
5. Gather evidence.
Penetration testing will highlight attack vectors and high- and low-risk vulnerabilities. Testing can also determine how effective your defense mechanisms really are. With this evidence you can meet compliance requirements and also gain the data needed to support increased investments in security.
Partner with RedTeam Security
Finding vulnerabilities is only worthwhile if the business can effectively address any potential security threats. RedTeam is committed to thorough testing that results in a detailed findings report and a step-by-step walk through on each issue uncovered. We provide the necessary guidance to effectively address your vulnerabilities and will perform remediation re-testing as needed at no additional cost. Schedule your consultation with us today to get started.
10-Point Offensive Security Checklist
Get A Bird's Eye View Of Your Organization's Security Readiness