7 Reasons You Need a Penetration Test in 2019

7 Reasons You Need a Penetration Test in 2019

Penetration tests are an important piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. We like to begin with the end in mind and understand your goals before we recommend any assessments, gap analyses, or pen tests. Read more to find out why you should consider a penetration test. 


What is a Penetration Test?

A penetration test, also called a pen test, is a common test that is done to find out if there are issues with an organization’s network or cybersecurity system.

The test is performed to identify both weaknesses and vulnerabilities, including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system’s features and data, as well as strengths, enabling a full risk assessment to be completed. [Source]

It may also be referred to as a form of cyber attack due to the procedure that is followed when making the test. However, it is not an illegal attack as it requires authorization from the owner of the systems the test is being carried out. This test helps to evaluate if there are any potential loopholes in your security system which may be exploited by cybercriminals.

How a Penetration Test Works

When a penetration test is launched, the aim is to carry out a risk assessment of your organization’s security system and controls. This is done by evaluating and picking out the parts of your security firewall that may be targeted by attackers. These parts are then subjected to an attack through a penetration test. When vulnerabilities in the security system are detected, the individual or company may then find out ways to eliminate the potential risk that may arise from these loopholes. This may be done by either getting rid of the defective systems or strengthening them to ensure that they are not exploited.

7 Reasons to Carry Out a Penetration Test

1. Discover the Vulnerabilities Hidden in Your System Early 

It is imperative to identify and uncover the vulnerabilities in your system before the people who pose a threat to you do. In this regard, you have to dig deep into the threat and establish exactly what kind of information could be brought out if it is discovered.  By revealing whether or not an organization is susceptible to cyber-attacks and making recommendations on ways to secure your system, you protect yourself. It is important to understand the extent to which your organization is vulnerable to hackers.

2. Avoid Remediation Expenses and Reduces Overall Network Downtime

It is very costly to recover from a system attack following a security breach. These costs could be regulatory penalties, loss of business operability and even protecting your employees. By identifying the areas of weakness in your system, you not only shield your organization from massive financial losses but also spare it from reputational prejudices. Through your qualified security analysts, you can get clues on ways through which you can take steps towards, and even make investments that will establish a more secure atmosphere for your organization.

3. Establish Thorough and Reliable Security Measures

From what you discover after the penetration test, you will be able to develop necessary measures to ensure the security of your information technology systems. The results can serve as pointers to security loopholes, how real they and the degree to which they can affect the performance and functioning of your systems. The test will also make the proper recommendations for their timely precautionary measures while at the same time enabling you to set up a security system that you can rely upon to make the safety of your IT systems a priority.

4. Enable Compliance with Security Regulations

Practicing the habit of conducting occasional penetration tests can help you stay by the security regulations as laid out by the security standards in authority. Some of these standards include HIPAA, PCI, and ISO 27001. This will be instrumental in helping you stay safe from the heavy fines which are normally common when compliance guidelines are not adhered to. To remain compliant with such standards, system managers ought to carry out frequent penetration tests alongside security audits as guided by qualified security analysts. The outcome or the results of the penetration tests prompt can even e presented to the assessors of the organization as a symbol of due diligence.

5. Protect Company Image and Customer Trust

When your systems fall victim to cyber-attacks, the company image becomes tarnished in that the way the public used to view the company takes a negative hit. Consequently, customers begin to develop a concern about the security of their information in the hands of the company. The outcome of this may be a consideration on their part to seek the services of an alternative company for the same services you were offering them. Penetration testing will, therefore, help you avoid putting your company in such a position and by so doing, protect the company image as well as maintain the loyalty and the trust of your employees.

6. Prioritize and Tackle Risks Based on their Exploitability and Impact

Penetration testing will identify the areas that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and using such results, you may be able to prioritize the potential risks and come up with a counter plan on how you are going to shield the company from the named risks. Your list of priorities could base itself on the degree to which individual risks are susceptible to exploitation by prospective hackers. You may also choose to attack the risk with a priority put upon the risk that would make for a graver impact on the company. By so doing, you will be cushioning the company against heftier hits in the event of a cyber attack crisis and by so doing deal with the risks that can easily be contained or whose impact is less harmful.

7. Keep Executive Management Informed about Your Organization’s Risk Level

Any properly working executive management of a company would always want to be kept in the loop whenever the company is at risk. More importantly, they also want to know of the level of protection the company operates in at any given time from potential cyber attackers.

Penetration Tests

Penetration tests are evidently of utmost relevance to the successful running of a company and should, therefore, be integrated into the maintenance procedures of a company. They can put you in a better position to identify the areas in your system that is vulnerable to cyber attacks, help you design a list of priority in terms of your precautions, enhance compliance measures and make everything legitimate for the good of all stakeholders of the company in their various capacities, including the customers.

A Penetration Test is a Piece of the Cybersecurity Puzzle

Penetration Tests and Vulnerability Assessments are two key tools utilized to improve and harden an organization’s security program.  Penetration Tests are used to identify key weaknesses in specific systems or applications and provide feedback on the most at-risk routes into the target.  These tests are designed to achieve a specific, attacker-simulated goal.

Alternatively, Vulnerability Assessments are designed to identify and affirm where key gaps are in your overall security program and yield a prioritized list of vulnerabilities that can be addressed to strengthen the environment.

We like to begin with the end in mind and understand your goals before we recommend any assessments, gap analyses, or pen tests.

Cybriant’s security professionals can assist in selecting the right approach to achieve your objective. We won’t just tell you that you have a problem; we will show you how to fix it, or we can perform the services on your behalf.

Here are 6 important considerations for your next security assessment vendor.

Penetration Test vs. Vulnerability Scan

No matter your size, all organizations should regularly check their network and systems for vulnerabilities that can allow outsiders to have access to your critical data.

There are two methodologies to do this – Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing. A common error in the cybersecurity world is to confuse these services or to use them interchangeably. Most cybersecurity experts will agree that both services are important and should be used together to have a comprehensive security program.

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3 Rules for Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

3 Rules for Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

Consider risk-based vulnerability management to be able to confidently visualize, analyze, and measure cyber risk in real-time while reducing your cyber exposure. 

I was reading an article recently where the author said that he was presented with the question, “Why bother focusing on vulnerabilities at all?” The point they made was that you can be:

  • Not patched and hacked
  • Patched and not hacked
  • Not patched and not hacked
  • Patched and still hacked (via social engineering, phishing, zero-day, or an asset not covered by your VM program)

I understand his frustration, but it’s always better to be prepared. Cybriant obviously recommends covering your bases as much as possible to reduce your threat landscape.

The modern attack surface has created a massive gap in an organization’s ability to truly understand its cyber exposure.

The larger the gap, the greater the risk of a business-impacting cyber event occurring.

Traditional Vulnerability Management is no longer sufficient. Risk-based vulnerability management extends vulnerability management by covering the breadth of the attack surface (IT, Cloud, IoT/OT) and provide a depth of insight into the data (including prioritization/analytics/decision support).

We help security leaders answer the following questions:

  • Where are we exposed?
  • Where should we prioritize based on risk?
  • How are we reducing exposure over time?

Security leaders should be prepared to take traditional vulnerability assessment and vulnerability management to the next level. Use the results from your assessment and remediate your issues to reduce your risk.

Risk-Based Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability scanning (especially done continuously) is an important part of your overall security strategy. If you are scanning, say – only for compliance reasons – but not taking action on the issues, what’s the point?

With a risk-based vulnerability management program, you are able to take the logical next step to reduce your threat surface by focusing on the top priorities for remediation.

If you are using internal resources to scan, sometimes the report is difficult to understand. This is a huge benefit of working with Cybriant. We’ll help customize the reports, so you are easily guided through how to remediate any issues.

By using a risk-based vulnerability management approach, you will save money by fixing only the highest priority vulnerabilities and time by being able to focus on the remediation steps.

Remediation is Key

In a risk-based vulnerability management program, the vulnerability scans need to run continuously. With eyes on your systems at all times, you’ll be alerted to issues as they are presented. Therefore, you’ll be advised on how to fix them faster.

This is why remediation in a risk-based vulnerability management program is key.

According to the article I previously mentioned:

Vulnerability assessment has absolutely no security value … unless you utilize the results to reduce your risk.

Vulnerability management done without significant thinking about remediation priority may in fact also be pointless (vs the labor spent).

However,”risk-based” vulnerability management does deliver real security value – as long as you actually practice it!


Therefore, Cybriant uses a risk-based vulnerability management approach.

By offering continuous vulnerability scanning plus remediation advice, you’ll have a complete risk-based vulnerability management program easily.

Performing only a single vulnerability scan each year or quarter puts organizations at risk of not uncovering new vulnerabilities.

The time between each scan is all an attacker needs to compromise a network. With continuous scanning, our security experts automatically have visibility to assess where each asset is secure or exposed.

Prioritize Risk

Patching is time-consuming and expensive! So, how should you handle it? You know you need to patch. The answer is risk prioritization. If you have 1000 known vulnerabilities, the best option is to “Patch Smarter.”

If your organization is able to prioritize the top 100 highest-risk patches, then focus on those. We use this process internally with our risk prioritization program. Our ticketing system will alert you to only those issues with your defined priority level.

By using risk prioritization, our security experts have the skills to understand exposures in context. They will prioritize remediation based on asset criticality, threat context, and vulnerability severity. Our reporting will help you prioritize which exposures to fix first, if at all, and apply the appropriate remediation technique

Unknown Assets

The greatest challenge for many security teams is simply seeing all the assets in their environment. Adversaries now have a much larger attack surface to probe and attack you across – and those adversaries can see everything and will attack you wherever they find a weak link.

It’s not just that the attack surface is expanding. It’s that legacy tools aren’t sufficient to cover it.

Vulnerability management (VM) tools were often deployed for compliance reasons – to cover just the assets in scope for specific regulations. Then security teams realized VM provides a value proposition around risk/visibility and started expanding the scope to cover all traditional IT assets.

But technology has leapfrogged those tools. We live in a world of cloud, DevOps (containers and microservices and web apps), and IoT/OT. Your organization needs an approach that is flexible enough to cover the entire modern attack surface, as well as expand and contract with it as changes occur.

The bottom line is that legacy tools and approaches simply don’t get the job done today.

Consider risk-based vulnerability management with Cybriant. You’ll get real-actionable results on a regular basis.

Related: How to Prevent Zero-Day Attacks in 5 Steps

How to Create a Patch Management Strategy


Risk-Based Vulnerability Management