What is a Penetration Test? And How Can Pen Testing Support Strong Cybersecurity?

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A penetration test – often shortened to pen test – is a way for businesses to test their cybersecurity infrastructure by having a professional attempt to hack into their network. A penetration test can have an IT security expert attempt to gain unauthorized access to the business’ network, a specific application, or a set of valuable data. While a pen tester will work independently from the target company to provide the best results, a test generally will not disrupt business operations or cause any actual harm to the company. Rather, it is an attack simulation that allows businesses to better understand how they could fall victim to a cyberattack and improve their cybersecurity posture.

The How and Why of Penetration Testing

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Penetration tests are often done by outside contractors that act as malicious actors for the sake of the test. Depending on what the business wants to test, a specialist may be given a few key pieces of information about the company or work completely blind. The pen tester can conduct a covert test, which means no one at the company is aware the test is happening. Or, they can work while members of the IT department are aware of the test. Additionally, a test can be performed from an external perspective or from inside the company’s network. How a test is conducted depends on the security risks being measured and the strategies a company wants to best defend against.

Pen Testing Benefits for SMBs

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Businesses of all sizes can benefit from a penetration test because it reveals critical information about the company’s cybersecurity preparedness. Security gaps and uncommon misconfigurations can come to light through a test, and this information can make the business more resilient to real attacks if they are ever targeted. A tester will also provide data on how well employees responded to test attempts, how well security solutions responded to attacks, and reveal vulnerabilities that may have been unknown to the business owner before. While a pen test may not catch every attack vector, it will reveal how prepared a business is for a real attack and can help guide future training and security decisions.

Improving After Pen Testing

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After completion of a penetration test, SMBs will gain valuable insight into their cybersecurity posture. The tester can provide actionable data and information on how well the business responded to the simulated attack, and, more importantly, highlight what needs to be improved. The feedback provided for improvement can lead to informed decisions on the right security solutions to implement, policy changes to react strongly to threats, and security projects that will bolster the company’s cybersecurity posture. Some pen testers are also IT consultants, and a consultant can provide further insight into planning a stronger network and taking the steps necessary to better train employees.  

Summary

Penetration testing involves an IT consultant or security specialist acting as a malicious actor attempting to attack a business’ network. The planned attack is tailored to the kind of security information a business needs, and an attacker works within their given parameters to launch a simulated attack. Once complete, a business gains valuable insight into the cybersecurity posture that allows them to make strong decisions that improve their network security. Robinett Consulting helps SMBs improve their network security, and if you need more information on pen testing or how the process can benefit your business, then our IT specialists are ready to work with businesses in the Henry County area to improve your cybersecurity!

What is a Penetration Test? And How Can Pen Testing Support Strong Cybersecurity? - Robinett Consulting

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