Why is Penetration Testing Important?
Posted by Peter Bassill on 22/03/2009There are a number of reasons why Penetration Testing is important.
Identify and Prioritise Security Risks
Pen testing evaluates an organisation’s ability to protect its networks, applications, endpoints and users from external or internal attempts to circumvent its security controls and gain unauthorised or privileged access to protected asset
Intelligently Manage your Vulnerabilities
Pen tests provide detailed information on actual, exploitable security threats. By performing a penetration test, you can proactively identify which vulnerabilities are most critical, which are less significant, and which are false positives. This allows your organisation to more intelligently prioritise remediation, apply needed security patches, and allocate security resources more effectively to ensure that they are available when and where they are needed most.
Adopt a Proactive Security Approach
These days, there's no one solution to prevent a breach. Organisations must now have a portfolio of defensive security mechanisms and tools, including cryptography, antivirus, SIEM solutions, and IAM programs, to name a few. However, even with these vital security tools, it's difficult to find and eliminate every vulnerability in an IT environment. Pen testing takes a proactive approach, uncovering weaknesses so that organisations know what remediation is needed, and if additional layers should be implemented.
Ensure your Security Program is working
Without the proper visibility into your environment as a whole, changing your security posture may result in you eliminating something that was not actually problematic. Pen tests don't only tell you what isn't working. They also serve as quality assurance checks, so you'll also find out what policies are most effective, and what tools are providing the highest ROI. With these insights an organisation can also intelligently allocate security resources, ensuring that they are available when and where they are needed most.
Be Confident in your Security
How can you be confident in your security posture if you do not effectively test it? By regularly putting your security infrastructure and your security team through their paces, you won't have to wonder hypothetically what an attack will look like and how you'll respond. You'll have safely experienced one, and will know how to prepare to ensure your organisation is never caught off guard.
Maintain Regulatory Compliance
Penetration testing helps organisations address the general auditing and compliance aspects of regulations and industry best practices. By exploiting an organisation’s infrastructure, pen testing can demonstrate exactly how an attacker could gain access to sensitive data. As attack strategies grow and evolve, periodic mandated testing makes certain that organisations can stay one step ahead by uncovering and fixing security weaknesses before they can be exploited.
Additionally, for auditors, these tests can also verify that other mandated security measures are in place or working properly. The detailed reports that pen tests generate can help organisations illustrate ongoing due diligence to maintaining required security controls.