Guide to Penetration Testing in Columbia MD
A complete network security program involves various facets that work together to protect your systems from digital threats. Most companies build robust defenses by adopting log management, vulnerability management, file integrity monitoring, and security configuration management capabilities.
The investment makes sense, and these resources can protect your IT infrastructure and data where necessary. But while they can build up your defenses against advanced cyberattacks, you can’t really ascertain how useful the tools are without running and testing them.
Penetration testing is an effective way of understanding your weaknesses and creating strategic and tactical adjustments to the vulnerable areas. After all, budgets are tight, so you must always direct your resources and funds to places that will deliver the most benefit.
Why Carry Out Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing actively tries to disclose and exploit the existing vulnerabilities within your company’s cyber-security system. In this approach, “ethical hackers” usually test every element of your IT infrastructure, from routers and servers to endpoints like laptops and PCs, switches, and firewalls.
Here are the primary reasons to begin penetration testing:
- Risk identification and prioritization – Regular penetration tests allow you to evaluate your network security and learn the necessary controls to achieve the appropriate security level to keep your assets and staff safe.
- Protection from hacker infiltrations – The exercise imitates real-life cybersecurity attacks by malicious individuals. This keeps you proactive in evaluating your network and systems security through a real-world approach that remediates any weaknesses before actual attacks.
- A more mature environment – Continuously maturing your environment’s security posture gives you a competitive edge. It demonstrates the importance of IT compliance and security to your organization and your continuous dedication to achieving optimum security.
- Protecting from data breaches and operation disruptions – Recovering from a cyberattack incidence is expensive. System remediation, legal fees, client protection strategies, discouraged buyers, and lower sales will cost you, but you can avoid them through regular penetration tests.
- Compliance with industry regulations and standards – Penetration tests address any security and compliance obligations mandated by industry regulations and standards like ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI, and FISMA.
Types of Penetration Tests
Bad guys have limitless methods that they can use to attack the company. They may dig through your dumpster to find sticky notes with passwords, show up on your parking lot and try to access your systems through the wireless, or target your site through different cyberattack tactics.
To effectively deal with all these, experts have come up with several standard pen test strategies. Let’s explore.
External Perimeter Testing
An external network penetration test is a security evaluation of the company’s perimeter systems. In essence, these comprise any system that hackers can access directly from the internet. Naturally, these are the most exposed elements, hence the most regularly and easily targeted.
An external pen test is carried out to identify the different ways of compromising your company’s accessible service and system, access sensitive data, and find the various methods malicious individuals can use to target your users and clients.
Testers replicate what real-life hackers do, including attempting to gain systems control. They’ll also ascertain the extent to which attackers can burrow into your systems and network and the potential business impact in case of a successful attack. Some of the methodologies used include recon and discovery, username enumeration, password spraying, and vulnerability analysis.
Internal Penetration Test
Everyone is more preoccupied with hardening the perimeter and keeping out external attackers. However, the internal frame also has its own unique risks that should be identified and addressed.
This approach to penetration testing determines how far attackers can navigate your network after an external breach. During the internal pen test, your cybersecurity expert will conduct the assessment either using the exploited box from the previous pen test or leverage a laptop or testing box from within the network. The laptop/testing box testing path offers better results than when you use the exploited external asset.
The experts launch internal attacks and surveillance from the initial beachhead. A typical loophole to total network control is a poorly secured domain, but an effective testing strategy should cover various attack paths. The method may include exploiting the less-vital systems and leveraging the insights to attack other requisite structures in the network. The test concludes after achieving domain admin access or control over the company’s vital data.
Wireless Penetration Test
You’ve definitely encountered horror stories where hackers breach security systems through company Wi-Fi. For instance, TJ Maxx ended up with over 94 million compromised records after hackers accessed the company’s data through a poorly secured wireless LAN.
Thanks to wireless penetration testing, you will identify and examine different devices using the business’ Wi-Fi network connection. This includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, and IoT (internet of things) devices. Testers will avail themselves at your premises because the tester has to be within your Wi-Fi range.
A wireless penetration test may cover network and wireless surveillance, encryption exploits, authentication attacks, privilege escalation, and session management.
Web Application Penetration Test
Web technologies and solutions continue to advance every day, and this means more cybersecurity threats. Your company’s web applications (external-facing ones) are naturally available to everyone who can access the public internet. The additional availability and complexity make them a viable target for malicious individuals.
Developers without sufficient cybersecurity awareness or those focusing on meeting a performance deadline face challenges keeping the applications safe from new threats. A web application pen test can be the best solution as it allows you to identify the following security loopholes in all aspects of your web application.
- Common weaknesses include:
- Security misconfiguration
- Broken authentication
- Broken access controls
- Insecure deserialization
Social Engineering Penetration Test
This penetration testing approach attempts any form of social engineering scam on personnel to determine their vulnerability to this threat.
The primary focus of social engineering pen tests is on the people, processes, and the associated vulnerabilities. Typically, ethical hackers conduct various social engineering attacks that anyone in the company could experience during their daily activities. The test’s primary goal is identifying weaknesses with a clear remediation path.
Common potential social engineering attacks include phishing, vishing, impersonation, smishing, tailgating, USB drops, and dumpster diving.
The Bottom Line
Companies, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations continuously adopt more sophisticated cybersecurity tools and practices for optimal protection from evolving cyberattacks. However, most forget the crucial aspect of reviewing the effectiveness of the different concepts and solutions in place. Penetration testing is the most effective way to ensure your Columbia MD business is safe from any potential threats.
It’s usually a bright idea to partner with an experienced IT agency to enjoy penetration testing’s full benefits. For almost 20 years, Advantage Industries has collaborated with businesses and organizations throughout Washington DC, Baltimore, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. We’ve provided apt guidance on complex cybersecurity and business processes.