Would you feel confident behind the wheel of a car that had never been inspected? Probably not. The same principle applies to your software – if you don’t test it for vulnerabilities, how will customers know it’s safe? Performing penetration tests on your software may help you accomplish this. In this article, we will discuss what penetration testing is, why it is important, and how safe your software can be with this type of testing.
What is penetration testing?
In short, it’s a process of attacking your system to find vulnerabilities so they can be fixed before someone else does. By understanding the risks associated with your software and using penetration testing as part of your overall security strategy, you can help protect your organisation from malicious attacks. During a pentest, penetration testers will attempt to circumvent security controls and access data and systems they are not authorised to access.
Why is penetration testing important?
Penetration testing can help you identify weaknesses in your system before an attacker does. By finding and fixing these weaknesses, you can reduce the risk of your system being hacked. Additionally, penetration testing can help you comply with regulations such as PCI DSS and HIPAA.
How safe is your software with penetration testing?
When performed correctly by qualified professionals, software penetration tests can be very effective at identifying vulnerabilities in your software. However, it is important to note that no test is 100% accurate, and there is always some risk that a vulnerability will not be found.
10 Benefits of software penetration testing:
- Reduced risk of attack: By finding and fixing vulnerabilities in your software, you can reduce the risk of an attacker exploiting them.
- Compliance with regulations: Many regulatory frameworks such as PCI DSS and HIPAA require online penetration testing to be performed on systems in order to demonstrate compliance.
- Improved security posture: A regular pen test can help improve your organisation’s overall security posture by identifying and fixing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
- Identification of sensitive data: A penetration test can help you identify sensitive data that is stored on your systems, which can then be protected with the appropriate controls.
- Assessment of risk: By understanding the risks associated with your software, you can make better decisions about how to mitigate them.
- Identification of system vulnerabilities: Penetration testing can help identify systems vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker.
- Test of security controls: A penetration test can help you assess the efficacy of your company’s current security measures.
- Assessment of incident response capabilities: By simulating a real-world attack, a penetration test can help you identify your organization’s response capabilities and improve them if necessary.
- Evaluation of system architecture: A penetration test can provide insights into the security of your system architecture, which can help you make changes to strengthen your security posture.
- Identification of vulnerabilities before they can be exploited: The main goal of penetration testing is to identify vulnerabilities in your software before an attacker does.
How do the five stages of penetration testing protect your software?
The five stages of penetration testing are reconnaissance, scanning and enumeration, gaining access, escalation of privileges, and maintaining access. Each stage provides valuable insight into the security of your software and what can be done to improve it.
- Reconnaissance: During reconnaissance, the tester gathers information about the target system such as its IP address range, operating system, and running services.
- Scanning and enumeration: During scanning and enumeration, the tester attempts to identify vulnerabilities in the target system such as weak passwords or missing patches.
- Gaining access: Once a vulnerability has been identified, the next step is to exploit it in order to gain access to the target system.
- Escalation of privileges: After gaining access to the target system, the next step is to escalate your privileges so you can perform more sensitive actions like deleting files or installing malware.
- Maintaining access: The last stage of a pen test is maintaining access. This involves setting up backdoors and other means of bypassing security controls in order to maintain persistent access to the target system.
By understanding the risks associated with your software and performing regular penetration tests, you can improve the security of your systems and reduce the risk of an attack.
What is a penetration test report?
A penetration test report provides an overview of what was tested and the results of those tests. It should include details such as: how many vulnerabilities were found, how severe they are, which ones have been fixed or are still open, and which ones need to be fixed urgently.
Should you only perform penetration testing on your software?
While it is important to perform penetration tests on your software, it is also important to remember that no test is perfect. It is therefore recommended that you use penetration testing in conjunction with other security controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and user education.
How to choose a penetration testing company?
Choosing the right penetration testing company can make all the difference. It is important that you find one with experience in your industry and an understanding of what you want from them. You should also look for someone who will be able to provide you with a detailed report that will help you improve your security posture. The majority of penetration testing services prefer not to disclose their cost and instead rely on one-on-one quotations. This is due to the fact that penetration testing costs vary greatly from application to application.
When performed correctly by qualified professionals, penetration tests can be very effective at identifying vulnerabilities in your software. Understanding the risks of your software can help you make better decisions on how to defend against them.
However, it is important to note that no test is 100% accurate, and there is always some risk that a vulnerability will not be found. Penetration testing should not be seen as a replacement for other security controls and should be used in conjunction with other security controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and user education to help reduce the risk of an attack.
When choosing a penetration testing company, it is important to find one with experience in your industry and an understanding of what you want from them.