Do small businesses need penetration testing? Every year there are unprecedented levels of cyberattacks targeting both small and large companies. If you are a small business, you might not think you would be high on the list for cyberattacks but that is not always the case. Wherever you can find software and hardware, there is a risk that someone might exploit vulnerabilities. This is where penetration testing, which describes a form of ethical hacking with your best interest at heart, can be helpful.
What Is Penetration Testing?
Penetration or pen testing is a simulated cyberattack against your system. The idea behind it is that you would want to know if there are any holes in the security of your networks, servers and systems before the bad guys do. Pen testing is all about finding the weaknesses and seeing if they can be exploited so you have a chance of patching them and preventing cyberattacks from taking place.
Why Is Penetration Testing Important For Small Businesses?
It is not possible to make every system 100% secure but being aware of any known security issues can massively help reduce the risk of a cyberattack. The need to implement penetration testing really comes down to the two main factors: security and compliance.
Small businesses are high on the list of prime targets for cyberattacks. This is because large companies often invest large amounts of money into cybersecurity, making small businesses the target-of-choice. After all, small businesses are likely to carry similar types of sensitive data which is just as valuable as the ones found in larger corporations.
It does not matter how large or small your company is, as soon as you handle sensitive information such as health, credit card or legal information from customers you must protect it. Therefore, you must always comply with government guidelines. Pen testing can be helpful when it comes to making sure your security practices are up to date and in accordance with the regulations.
How Does Penetration Testing Work?
1. Find And Priorities Vulnerabilities In Critical Information Systems
A tester will determine any points that are particularly vulnerable to attack. It makes sense to start with critical information systems and then rank the vulnerabilities in order of priority or severity for the company to deal with. Systems with high-risk weaknesses affecting the business should be addressed first.
2. Carry Out External And Internal Penetration Testing
Once a weakness has been identified, a pen tester will devise tests to attack the system in order to determine if these could be exploited by cybercriminals.
External Penetration Testing: Think of it as any part of your company’s assets which are visible on the internet (e.g. company website, email, or domain name servers). The goal of this test is to try and break into the system and extract the data.
Internal Penetration Testing: Think of it as testing anything that could be exploited by a malicious insider within your firewalls. This might include assessing the damage a rogue employee could do or testing a hypothetical case in which someone’s credentials are stolen in a phishing attack.
3. Fix Problem Areas And Repeat Testing If Needed
Once weak points have been highlighted it is up to the company or their IT support to patch up the holes in their security. It is common to repeat penetration testing after the vulnerabilities have been fixed to see if any problems remain.
Can I Do Penetration Testing By Myself?
In theory, it is possible to do penetration testing in-house and without having to involve a third party. Having said that, however, you need to be able to correctly interpret the results of the testing to be able to fix vulnerabilities. False positives are not uncommon in the world of pen-testing.
Overall, it makes sense to compare the costs of a professional and the potential losses caused by a breach or attack. In fact, more than 60% of small businesses which have been hacked go out of business within 6 months. So, think of penetration testing as an investment rather than as an expense.
If you need a consultation or want to know more about cybersecurity and penetration testing, contact us now.