Penetration Testing has become one of the best ways to combat cybersecurity risks. With a sudden growth in cyber breaches taking place across the globe, security-aware businesses are looking at ways to secure their database in the most efficient way possible. Thus, the demand for experts in penetration testing has grown exponentially and is showing no signs of slowing down. The international company MarketsandMarkets, a provider of quantified B2B research, estimates a growth from $594.7 million in 2016 to $1,724.3 million by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.7%. This has opened a world of opportunities and given rise to numerous pen-testing companies in the IT landscape.
Another significant factor driving growth is the need for compliance. Numerous organizations are required by law to adhere to a list of quality standards, that generally require the use of security assessment techniques such as pen-testing. A pool of opportunities, higher security defences, reduced risk levels and growing security requirements have made pen-testing a popular response to avoid security breaches.
Penetration Testing is an excellent way to assess and address several security vulnerabilities of a company’s IT environment. The outputs from these tests contribute to several purposes, including:
An Internal Pen-Testing Team or an External Pen-Testing Provider?
In such a scenario, the potent questions that need answering are, how do you choose a suitable penetration testing company? Should you opt for an internal team or choose an external provider? How will you know if the provider can perform penetration testing engagement as per your requirements and to your satisfaction?
The pen-testers validate your company’s cybersecurity defences before real-world attackers can exploit them. They perform an overall check that requires IT expertise of professionals familiar with the modus operandi of hackers. Thus, outsourcing the requirement for penetration testing means trusting an outsider to protect your sensitive data and IP. Usually, for most organizations, it is not possible to entirely rely on an in-house team for their testing engagements to furnish the security assurance information your company needs. Also, creating and managing an in-house team can be quite expensive. Bringing in a third party is therefore considered a much lucrative option.
Checkboxes that need to be ticked by a Penetration Testing Provider
Know the pen-test your company requires: Before you select a penetration testing provider, you need to identify the type of technical testing your business demands. The tools, knowledge and expertise necessary for a web application pentest, mobile application pentest and an infrastructure pentest are all different. Once you have defined the scope, goals, requirements and boundaries, you will need to decide how would you want to perform the test. Black box, grey box and white box tests are the three options to choose from. Hence, your pen-test provider needs to be familiar with all three to be able to select the one appropriate for the goals and budget of your business.
Skills, Experience and Expertise of the Team: Evaluating the pen-testing provider is not enough. You should also check the team members performing the pen testing process. When examining a potential pen-testing provider, take a close look at their certifications and qualifications. The staff should hold industry recognized professional certifications in ethical hacking, along with a university degree in information security. Also, you must check the type of experience and technical know-how they possess, their eagerness to learn, and how the pen-testing provider vets employees before hiring.
Pentesting providers range from large impressive looking consulting firms to regional security service providers and sometimes even individuals working from home. Remember the large size or global position of the brand doesn’t necessarily mean you will get better results when it comes to penetration testing. To ensure the best results, ask for some references of pentests they have conducted for companies having similar size, scope and industry. You can check with them for the service they have received and gauge the suitability of the pentester for your organization’s demands.
Data Security: When selecting a pen-testing provider, the biggest concern you have is that of security. Pentesters will have access to your company’s inner infrastructure and confidential data. The pentester provider will need to demonstrate how they plan to handle this data securely before and after the penetration test. Thus, getting a complete clarification on data security is one of the most significant deciding factors when selecting a trustworthy pen-testing company.
Methodology: Ensure that the company has updated methodologies. Since there are various types of penetration testing methods, you should check if the company can prove their updated knowledge through certifications and adherence to standards. You must have information on the tools used, the steps followed and the exact procedure in which the pentest will be performed. Getting a written overview of the entire process is recommended. Some of the questions you need to ask are:
Agreement: A Rules of Engagement document is a mandatory agreement between your company and pen-testing provider. It must include the following key points:
Liability Insurance: Ensuring your pen-testing provider has liability insurance is extremely important. It will offer additional protection to your business from liability risks. In case there is a problem, the vendors with insurance can remedy any loss incurred as a result of testing such as data leak or compromise.
Critical Points to check in a Report
Penetration testers are skilled enough to hack into most networks and applications easily. What you need to check is if they can report the findings effectively. An efficient penetration testing provider will willingly share a sample of the reports they have already created. Here are some key points you must check before making your choice:
Shortlist the penetration testing provider you plan to hire and do thorough research while evaluating them. While comparing budget, also pay attention to the number of days set for the assessment, project management and report creation. Once your penetration testing provider is able to check off all the above requirements you can be assured that they fit the bill.
If your organisation isn’t already using regular penetration tests, it’s high time they do. Like a fire-drill penetration testing is extremely important to identify the weak spots of your application’s security defences. Make sure you uncover them before they get exploited and take necessary measures to address them.