Penetration testing is a necessity for any serious business. It might sound strange, but essentially, you need someone you can trust to “hack” into your system before the real bad guys get the chance.
The only issue is, how do you know which penetration testing service to trust? Considering this is such a sensitive issue, you can’t go in blind. In this article, EliteSec will help you understand the ins and outs of penetration testing. You’ll learn the different types and the best practices for carrying pen tests out. Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision regarding which penetration testing service to hire.
What Is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing involves several exploitation techniques that testers use to gain access to your IT infrastructure. These processes will secure your infrastructure so that everyone uses it the way they’re supposed to, regardless of whether they have bad intentions. Note that these tests account for websites, networks, applications, and hardware computer systems.
Penetration testing services will include hacking into your system. Rest assured, any reliable penetration tests should be carried out by a certified ethical hacker and not by anyone else.
Why Your Business Needs Penetration Testing Services
Practically any business that collects a large amount of data and uses the internet in its operations is at risk of a cyber-attack. Penetration testing is the best tool to ensure that your information is secure. When you’re serving your customers, you should secure their data confidently. Not to mention, there are a whole host of data security regulations you need to comply with as well.
You want to prepare your business for cyber threats before they take place. In an ideal world, they never will. But unfortunately, cybercriminals are always finding new ways to get ahead. That’s why penetration testing services must sit on the cutting edge, always keeping up to date with the latest cybersecurity threats.
Prepare Your Business For Attacks
47% of data breaches come from a malicious attack. It seems like every day there’s a new security breach; your team needs to be ready. Running penetration tests will let you know just how effective your company’s security policies are.
Once you get the results from your penetration test, the pen tester should suggest preventative measures to remove a hacker in the worst-case scenario.
In extreme cases, like the SolarWinds hack, the target might not even be your business, but the federal government. That said, you still need to be prepared for the fallout of such an all-encompassing attack.
Aside from the obvious risks associated with your company’s IT infrastructure, several unexpected problems could crop up. As a result, a penetration test will also offer you the opportunity to uncover your hidden weaknesses. In addition, the penetration testing service will notify you which types of precautions you should take in the future to prevent a hack and recommend useful security tools.
Decrease The Chance Of Programming Errors
If you employ a dev team, they will certainly benefit from the insights of a pen test. After all, a hack is often the result of an oversight by one of your developers. When the pen testers gain access to your system, they will articulate exactly how they did it. Your developers will then take corrective measures based on the pen testers' feedback. This will result in a more stable operating system and app infrastructure for your team in the long run. Not to mention, a better-educated developer team.
When To Seek Out Penetration Testing Services
As far as we’re concerned, there is never a bad time to seek out penetration testing services. That said, certain occasions make penetration testing extra important.
IT Infrastructure Changes
After you’ve made significant changes to your IT infrastructure, you should conduct a penetration test to ensure that your infrastructure updates are secure. You’ve probably implemented several new features, so it’s reasonable to analyse whether you implemented them securely.
When you relocate to a different office, that implies you’ve conducted a hard reset on your entire network. In this scenario, you need to recover from any network downtime. It’s also possible that you failed to reconfigure your system properly - a leading cause of network hacks. Therefore, this is the perfect occasion to conduct a penetration test.
New Security Patches
After your developers make new security patches, you might want to commission a penetration test just to double-check that your developers didn’t miss anything. That way, you can deploy the new patches with confidence.
New End-User Policies
If you’ve set out new end-user policies, then this also implies that you could have new user behaviour to account for. Hence, you should conduct a penetration test to determine whether there are any new weaknesses for a malicious user to exploit.
Potential Penetration Testing Scenarios
To help you understand some of the ways that malicious actors could gain access to your business, we’ve outlined 3 different approaches penetration testing services might use to gain entry into your system.
Spam Emails & Proxy Servers
One simple way to test your system’s security is to test your company’s spam filters. This test will double-check that all your inbound and outbound email traffic goes through appropriate filters and that malicious email addresses are detected and blocked.
Most email services will have built-in spam filters. However, you still need to configure them to accommodate your company’s unique requirements. For instance, you might want to outline rules that detect suspicious phrases and messages in the email subject lines or body text.
Without a doubt, firewalls form an essential part of any cybersecurity strategy. As your company handles large quantities of data on a daily basis, you’ll want to ensure that no data is passed out and through the network without your explicit consent. Therefore, you want to ensure that any pen testers you hire test this aspect of your security thoroughly.
Social Engineering Tests
Social engineering testing services try to counter a rather unique tactic that some hackers use to gain data from your organization. Instead of using computers and programs to obtain your data, social hackers will use their people skills to sweet-talk their way into gaining sensitive data. For instance, they could go to your physical location, talk their way past your welcome desk, and plug in a corrupted USB key to one of your computers that infects your entire network with a virus.
To counter this, you need to put security measures in place. Your secretaries and other public-facing employees are your biggest vulnerability here. Pen testers can teach them how to detect and handle any social engineering hacker that comes their way.
The 8 Types Of Penetration Testing Services
Some penetration testing services will claim that there are only 3 or 4 types of penetration tests. However, we’ve classified 8 types of tests that we deploy at EliteSec.
One of the first penetration tests that come to mind is a vulnerability assessment. Such tests will examine your network’s known vulnerabilities before carrying out the rest of the pen tests. However, they don’t delve into the same level of depth as the other tests.
Web Application Penetration Testing
As its name suggests, web app penetration testing tests the security of all your organization’s web apps. In this case, pen testers will study the app to identify its vulnerabilities. One common issue with web apps is that they require users to upload files from their devices. A malicious actor could exploit this and upload a corrupted file in place of a legitimate one. Web app testing combats this type of threat.
Internal Network Penetration Testing
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for disgruntled employees to attempt to damage your system. Conducting internal penetration tests is essential to any cybersecurity strategy because these tests will mirror the activity of a hacker that comes from within your organization.
External Network Penetration Testing
Of course, testing your external security is just as crucial as testing your internal one. Instead of reacting to attacks as they happen, you want to conduct an external penetration test on vulnerable assets like email servers as we described earlier. Each one of your public assets faces the threat of exploitation, it’s only a matter of time before someone puts your security infrastructure to the test.
Mobile Application Penetration Testing
If your organization relies on a mobile app, you’ll need to exercise an extra degree of caution. While the nature of mobile apps varies from organization to organization, the common thread here is that mobile apps are portable for a reason. You want your users to access the app anywhere, including over insecure public internet connections. Any data transmitted here is at an elevated risk of leakage compared to the norm.
Native Application Penetration Testing
You probably use a variety of native apps in your organization on a daily basis. Once again, the developers might have overlooked some vulnerabilities and neglected to protect the data stored on your native apps. Oftentimes, your native apps will connect directly to your organization’s database, so the potential consequences here could be massive.
Cloud Infrastructure Penetration Testing
Roughly 94% of businesses use some form of public or private cloud. Yet, many of these businesses don’t understand the security threat posed by using cloud infrastructure. While you can’t test the strength of the entirety of the cloud services that you use, you can still test the instances deployed by your organization.
Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Investigations
Any penetration tester worth their salt will include an OSINT investigation as part of their offerings. Such investigations require that the tester research known organizational vulnerabilities online. Cybercriminals have a way of sharing and assimilating knowledge about a client’s network that only a penetration tester can find with ease. Once a pen tester uncovers these vulnerabilities, they’ll create counter strategies to defend your organization’s assets.
EliteSec - The Best Penetration Testing Service In Waterloo
At EliteSec, we offer some of the best penetration testing services in Waterloo and Southern Ontario. Since education is the lynchpin of our security strategy and overall customer service, we’ll give you a bit more insight into how our services work from a first-hand perspective.
An In-Depth Look At Our Penetration Tests
When you hire EliteSec to conduct your penetration tests, you can rest assured that we leave no stone unturned. Poorly-run penetration testing services will rely solely on automated tests. However, we use a combination of both automated and manual tests to comb through every possible vulnerability that may arise.
Typically, there are 5 steps to a penetration test, they are as follows:
Naturally, all penetration tests commence with a plan. We will first define the range of hardware and software assets that need protecting. Afterwards, we’ll design a set of tests that address the shortcomings we expect after reviewing your system.
During this planning phase, we won’t leave you in the dark. Once we have plans to share, we will sit down with you to describe our simulated attacks. We’ll brief you on every aspect of the tests and we’ll address any thoughts or concerns you might have during the process.
Scanning is the first active step of penetration tests. This is the step where pen testers physically scan the system to identify vulnerabilities they couldn’t predict in the planning phase.
We can separate scanning into two types: static scanning and dynamic scanning. Static scanning is when the pen tester examines an application’s code to find its weak points. Dynamic scanning involves watching the code in action to see where a malicious user might identify security gaps.
After we gather information regarding the vulnerabilities in your system, we will do our best to take advantage of them and “hack” into your network. This only involves us gaining entry to your system without permission.
Once we’ve gained access to your network, we’re going to push the envelope and abuse our privileges as much as possible. This can hardly be considered excessive. In fact, it’s in your interest that we try (and hopefully fail) to achieve administrator privileges just to see how resilient your security posture is.
Any time that we identify a vulnerability in your system, we’ll carry out 5 re-tests to ensure that we understand the weakness and how to resolve it as best as possible.
Without reading the post-test report, you won’t be able to obtain any of our insights into your cybersecurity strategy. We will produce a customized plan for your business so that you can defend yourself from future attacks on your systems.
In a typical report, we will start with an overview of the weaknesses we found in your network. Then, we’ll outline the consequences of failing to address them. Finally, we will explain the precise measures you must take to improve your company’s security.
Of course, no report would be complete without mentioning some of the instances in which your network’s defences succeeded. This will help you give constructive feedback to your development team when attempting to remedy your security vulnerabilities.
Why Our Clients Choose Us
In our years of experience working to improve the security posture of our clients, we’ve noticed that most companies are unprepared to counter the average cyber attack. Worse yet, their current security measures won’t scale to meet their needs as they expand. This is a shame, considering that every well-run business expects to grow - they could put their growth in jeopardy with negligent security practices.
When you work with EliteSec, you’ll give your business the best chance to grow securely.
A Wealth Of Industry Experience
Our employees have completed many forms of security training to prepare them for conducting penetration tests. Some examples of the certifications our employees have completed include the OCSP, OSWP, and CISSP. You can rest assured that we’re aware of all the local regulations whether you operate in Ontario or elsewhere.
You can check out some samples of our past work, we’ll provide case studies upon request.
An Educational Focus
Education is one of our core values. After all, if you’re going to implement our changes, you and the relevant parties in your organization must understand them.
Throughout the phases of penetration testing, we’ll work with you to ensure you comprehend the measures we take to attack and protect your system. That includes an extensive de-briefing process.
We cover every single facet of your security profile, no matter your organization’s size or activities. As we mentioned before, we conduct both manual and automated testing, so you can be sure we’re giving you the best value for your money. Not to mention, we’re capable of conducting 8 different types of penetration tests. Our offerings are versatile.
From your first call with us, we will work with you to gain a full understanding of your needs and try to find the right solution for your organization.
Book A Call Today
When it comes to cyber security, it’s difficult for the layperson to understand where to start. You can contact us to receive a free 30-minute consultation during which we’ll dissect your company’s security profile.
If you’ve had a penetration test in the past, but aren’t sure if the findings were reliable, we’ll give you a second opinion to check whether your previous pen testers did the job properly.