As they say, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”. This is especially so for web application security and cybersecurity in general. As cyber-attackers too leverage the advancements in technology and communication to orchestrate dangerous and vicious attacks, breaches and hacks, organizations need to be at least one step ahead of the attackers. One of the important ingredients of mitigation and prevention measures is penetration testing.

What is penetration testing?

Penetration testing (Pen-testing) is a simulated real-time cyber attack that is orchestrated in secure conditions to check the strength of web application security, identify gaps in the systems, networks, and applications and detect exploitable vulnerabilities and loopholes.

Web application and website penetration testing involve the breaching of frontend and backend servers, application protocol interfaces, etc. by certified security professionals to unearth and detect vulnerabilities and un-sanitized inputs that are susceptible to malicious code injections, unauthorized entries, attacks, etc.

Penetration testing tools must be used manually and only by trustworthy, skilled and certified security professionals. Why? Because they expose gaps and loopholes in our applications and security infrastructure. If these security testing tools are not used by such trustworthy experts, the vulnerabilities may be used as leverage for ransom or worse they can be sold in the black market to hackers and cybercrime syndicates. It will defeat the purpose of cybersecurity.

Reasons why your business needs penetration testing

Prepare for the unknown and unforeseen: Even despite best efforts and high investment, big players like Microsoft, Adobe, etc. faced zero-day threats in 2018 and Facebook, Marriott International, Exactis, etc. faced major breaches and hacks in 2018. This means that slip-ups in security and zero-days are a big possibility even for big players. So, it is vital that all organizations, big, medium or small, engage in pen-testing to unearth unknown and unforeseen threats and risks for them to be able to prepare better.

It is important to note that small businesses are high up the target list of hackers with over 40-50% of small businesses facing some form of cyber-attack in the US. If they are not well-prepared, then they may even be forced to shut down completely.

First mover advantage: Even critical vulnerabilities take over 100 days to be patched after they are detected. So, it is critical for businesses to gain the first mover advantage that penetration testing gives them to identify, patch and fix vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can find them.

Cost of hacks and attacks is high and ever-increasing: The cost of cybersecurity breaches and attacks is not limited to the monetary costs such as remediation costs, escalation costs, etc. but the losses permeating from the downtimes, poor network performance, loss of brand image, reputation, loyalty and most importantly, customers. The latter things affect businesses in the long-term. By continuously detecting and monitoring web applications for loopholes and gaps, you can save costs and ensure the long-term sustainability of your business.

Strengthen your cybersecurity strategy and plans: By simulating/recreating a real-attack situation, penetration testing reveals the strengths, weaknesses and status/performance of your security measures and infrastructure. When done by certified external experts like AppTrana, you will gain an invaluable outsider perspective on web application security. Upon getting these insights, businesses can strengthen their cybersecurity strategy and risk mitigation plans, making them proactive, understanding areas that need strengthening and those that need more investment/attention and so on.

Compliance with security regulations: With the number of regulations with respect to customer data and data security, pen-testing will enable businesses to comply with such regulations. For instance, GDPR guidelines, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), etc.

Is penetration testing necessary even if your business has a high-end, automated security infrastructure in place?

Yes. It is necessary. Web application security is not a one-time thing and must not be treated that way. It must be continuous, and businesses must proactively and consistently engage in securing their web application. Even with high-end security processes and infrastructure, there is a need to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities and loopholes. Also, automation can only take businesses to a certain point in cybersecurity; nothing can replace human expertise and intelligence.

It is, therefore, essential that pen-testing is done by certified security experts as they will be able to best use the security testing tools while leveraging automation and other technology to help businesses to continuously detect, protect and test their web application security and performance.

AppTrana provides end-to-end, comprehensive web application security that combines automated website security scans with manual penetration testing that will allow your organization to focus on your core business activities while our security experts take care of your cybersecurity needs.