Why Penetration Testing Is a Vital Part of any Business’s Online Security Strategy

When was the last time your business carried out a penetration test? If you’ve no idea what that even means then you wouldn’t be alone!

Penetration testing is a vital part of any business’s online security strategy, or at least it should be. Regardless of which type of industry you work in, technology tends to play a huge part in the day-to-day running of your company. Whether you use it to store customer data or simply to communicate with colleagues and employees, it’s important to ensure everything is safe and secure. Standard anti-virus scans just aren’t enough to protect your company in this digital age. That’s where penetration testing steps in.

So, what is penetration testing and why is it so important for small businesses?

 

Understanding Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is also commonly referred to simply as pen-testing. It involves carrying out numerous automatic and manual processes to identify any weak spots in your system.

Rather than just looking for weak spots, it actually hacks into the system. So, it’s basically a test to discover how easy it would be for someone to access your digital network. It’s capable of picking up on potential issues that you might not be aware of, helping you to establish whether any changes need to be made.

Usually, these tests focus upon finding the most high-risk vulnerabilities. So, if those are found, you may not discover the medium or low risks associated with your network or systems. However, if no high risks are found, it will typically move on to look for medium and low risk threats. It all depends upon the type and length of the test that’s being carried out. So, it is worth keeping this in mind before you choose a penetration testing service.

 

Why Is Penetration Testing Important?

Many businesses mistakenly think penetration testing is something that only large organizations can benefit from. After all, how likely is it that a small business will be targeted by hackers? Well, you might just be surprised!

Around 60% of cyber-attacks are launched against small businesses. This is because, unlike larger companies, smaller ones don’t tend to have as much security in place. So, as a small business you’re considered an easy target.

If there is a security breach, the cost can be substantially high. Not only will it cost you financially, but it’s also going to have a major effect on your reputation. The financial costs of recovering after a security breach are higher than you might think. The UK Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills estimates the cost of a breach for the average small business would be around £310,800 – a cost most small businesses couldn’t afford.

A great advantage of penetration testing is that it doesn’t just show you the potential threats your company is facing; it also looks at what would happen if these security weaknesses were exploited. Would it lead to a loss of customer data? Or maybe it would attack users on the system? Whatever the risk, it will be identified and you’ll see exactly what the repercussions could be.

Finally, did you know that penetration testing is actually a legal requirement for some businesses? If your company is legally required to carry out these tests but it fails to do so, you could end up in a lot of trouble, which again could cost you dearly.

 

Can You Do Penetration Testing Yourself?

There are penetration testing devices available, but unless you have experience working with them, you’re likely to find them a little too complex to understand. They’re also expensive. The biggest challenges you’ll face if you do try to do your own penetration testing include:

  • Failing to check the right things and to set the right scope
  • Not being able to understand the reported outcome
  • No knowledge of the penetration testing device

The best option and the most reliable is to turn to the services of a penetration testing company. They know exactly what to check and how to use the complex tools and processes for best results. It can save you a lot of time and it gives you a peace of mind that absolutely every avenue has been looked at and checked for weaknesses.

Also, when you compare their cost to the tools you’d need to buy to do it yourself, it doesn’t actually work out to be much more expensive.

Overall, penetration testing should be included as an essential part of every small business’s cyber security strategy. It is important to remember that you will need to address any issues found in the report as soon as possible, however. It’s one thing to ensure the testing is done, but you’ll need to follow up and make the recommended changes to ensure your company stays safe.