You may be thinking, “What even is an internal penetration test?”, there is just something wrong about the phrase when you say it. The way it rolls off the tongue is just odd. Internal penetration testing is the act of mimicking a hacker to break into your systems and find vulnerabilities in your business’s internal network. In a nutshell, it is building your defense by offensively assessing your company’s security. Well that still does not sound too good, right? However, It is very beneficial to companies and it is a growing compliancy factor for security standards such as PCI-DSS and HIPPA. In this instance, let’s just call it “The Test”.
The Test is a way to proactively protect your network from attacks that may be lurking around town or online around the world. It can prevent data loss, business down-time, and protect critical customer or employee information by showing a business owner the possible flaws in their current network.There are a plethora of ways a hacker can infiltrate the network. Some common ways are social-engineering, wireless hacking, or network stalking. The best part is that the vulnerabilities found can then be remediated to prevent the attacks from happening in the future. This would be considered a form of risk mitigation.
The Test costs less than an actual data breach. The time it takes to resolve an emergency response situation such as a disgruntled employee deleting vast amounts of data is far less than an actual Penetration Test. When emergency situations like the one above occurs there are costs everywhere. First, there is a cost associated with legal matters to see where you stand in the situation. Then there are forensic investigator fees to review the forensic image of your data to see if there is a clear sign that these events have occurred. Further there is the emergency response fee to restore your data, and then the time it will take to mitigate the threat in the future.
Why do Small Businesses need Internal Penetration Tests?
Many small business fall into bad practice categories that could leave them exposed such as default/weak passwords or unencrypted traffic. Some owners may believe they cannot be a victim to a hack because they may be in a small town in the middle Pennsylvania. In reality, once you are connected to the internet, you are essentially just a click away. The internet is the high speed highway leading directly to your doorstep. Don’t believe me, check out Shodan.io. Shodan is an online search engine, like Google, designed for finding connected devices on the Internet. This Search engine finds servers, web cameras, and even databases. Pretty scary right? Moreover, many small businesses lack a formal security plan or disaster recovery plan if or when an incident occurs.
When real attacks occur, most business do not find out they have been a victim of cybercrime until months later. Cybercrime is not limited to corporate environments anymore and I believe small business are the new target hackers for a variety of reasons. One reason is that small business are likely to be more vulnerable than a corporate company with a 24/7 security team constantly watching their networks. Further, There is a time and effort factor that is crucial. A hacker would be able to stalk and attack a small business that is more likely to not be prepared for more advanced types of attacks.
Hiring an experienced Penetration Tester can quickly assess many common vulnerabilities in a network within an hour or two of work using a variety of tools. This would include finding unencrypted traffic, default/weak passwords, or common exploits found on connected devices. A more comprehensive test could take roughly a week. A comprehensive overview utilizes network stalking, customized exploits, and social-engineering. It can even be fun for the employees to learn from experiencing a real attack with social-engineering. There are many methods a real cyber criminal may use to attack your network and hiring an experienced technician can stop a real attacker in his or her tracks and prevent the expense of system down-time.
Having a penetration test implemented is like a form of insurance for your network. Having the second set of eyes that can review your network security can stop threats before they happen. Penetration tests help with compliance for security standards your company may need to abide by. Furthermore, a full comprehensive test can show areas where employees need training my utilizing a game-like environment to touch on security awareness and social engineering. Think of penetration testing as a yearly medical examination. Even if you are healthy, a physician can still may find symptoms of illnesses or other dangers and can incorporate routines that can prevent the danger from happening.
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