As cybersecurity strategies evolve, hacking methods do too. That means that it’s possible for hackers to be one step ahead of the IT security measures companies put in place.
That’s why even companies that adhere strictly to the best practices in IT security guidelines can be vulnerable to certain types of cyberattacks.
Companies that want to protect their IT infrastructure even more effectively can conduct a penetration test, a strategy that complements the IT security audit.
In this article, our managed IT services specialists will discuss the subject in depth.
What is a penetration test?
A penetration test, sometimes called a pen test, is a simulated cyberattack against a computer system carried out by a cyber security specialist to identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. The test can target all networks, applications, devices and physical security components.
Penetration tests can use real-world scenarios to show companies how their current defenses would perform in the face of a large-scale cyberattack and whether they could ensure business continuity in such a situation.
Types of penetration tests
A cyber security consultant can use a variety of penetration strategies to simulate a real attack by a hacker:
This strategy simulates an attack by a hacker who has no information about the company, network or server. With only the name of the company as data, the technician will try to find security flaws. This type of hacker is “flying blind.”
In a grey box test, the attacker uses a user account to try to infiltrate the targeted system. This type of attacker already has access to a certain amount of information that is useful for penetrating the IT infrastructure.
The third strategy simulates the type of cyberattack companies dread most. In this simulation, the hacker already has all the information they need to hack into a company’s computer system thanks to surveillance, third-party information or spyware.
Why should companies conduct penetration tests?
Penetration tests help companies assess the overall security of their IT infrastructure. Testing the infrastructure is important because the company’s security protocols may be strong in one area but lacking in another.
Penetration tests will highlight any vulnerabilities in the various layers of the company’s security system and will give the experts the information they need to resolve the flaws before they become critical liabilities.
More specifically, penetration tests enable companies to:
- Check the effectiveness of current security controls: customers receive an assessment of the overall security of the physical, network and application layers of their IT infrastructure.
- Expose real vulnerabilities: companies find out which parts of their system are most vulnerable to being hacked.
- Ensure compliance: after the test, companies can check whether they are in compliance with the standards in place to protect the security of data and personal information.
- Strengthen the security posture: companies can establish priorities and reduce vulnerability with the help of a security program developed based on the test results.
When is the best time to conduct a penetration test?
The high cost of a cyber attack and the potential data loss involved means that no company should wait for a real attack to occur before going on the offensive. It’s best to be proactive when it comes to IT security and conduct penetration tests on a regular basis.
Changes to your IT infrastructure can also affect security. It’s prudent to conduct a penetration test after changes such as:
- Installing new equipment
- Launching an application
- A major update
- Changes to relevant regulations
Groupe SL: your resource for IT security in Quebec
In conclusion, a penetration test is an excellent way to identify weaknesses in your IT security plan and determine what improvements need to be made to avoid falling victim to hackers.
Contact our experienced team to conduct a penetration test on your IT infrastructure. After the test, we can offer you a complete IT security plan and the best tools on the market to reinforce your protection.