Penetration testing can give a clear picture of the security puzzle

From within a business or organisation, the task of providing an objective review of any feature, project or asset can be difficult to manage without it being clouded by certain factors.

In some cases the points under consideration are the results of the efforts of the reviewer, while in others the person in charge is highly likely to know the staff members concerned.

As professional as these individuals may be, it still remains in the best interests of the organisation as a whole to consider the possibility of bias affecting the outcome of a review.

Rather than place the onus on internal stakeholders to prove their detachment from projects that may be very close to their heart, it may be more productive in the long run to simply avoid this scenario entirely.

This is where the value of ethical penetration testing services comes to the fore – with dedicated professionals performing external evaluations in order to determine the most likely avenue of entry for a malicious party.

The main advantage is that a firm will be able to gain an insight into where their coverage may be lacking – with gaps that are obvious to those outside a firm that might not be considered by the professionals immediately responsible for the every operations.

Viewing small gaps in a wider context

Ideally, modern organisations are supposed to operate as a well-oiled machine, with actions in one area serving to assist others in their duties.

This level of interdependence is what provides a business with its efficiencies that makes its service provision or production methods a valuable proposition – the focus of working to strengths and opportunities rather than reacting to market conditions.

However, this same cross-reliance of people and processes needs to be taken into context when undertaking penetration testing and information security reviews.

This is because it can be easy to dismiss a small gap in a firm's digital defences when the information most obviously at stake is not of great importance to the firm or its activities – the costs of protecting it can outweigh the immediate prospect of damage done by malicious external parties.

However, the access gained through one small, seemingly insignificant channel could be used later by the same individuals – or sold on to other participants – to explore for further vulnerabilities.

As security specialists will know, it is important to remember to think of the big picture when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a firm's defences – because the small gaps that are ignored today could lead to greater problems later on down the track.

What is ethical hacking?

When it comes to online security, there can be a lot of confusion over how to best protect an organisation's digital assets.

A lot of this comes from misunderstandings over just how malicious parties are able to gain access to privileged information in the first place.

Adding to this mix is the range of different terms used by professionals that may seem unfamiliar to those not actively involved in securing online assets.

So it is little surprise that some prospects may be a little nervous over just how an ethical hacking project is supposed to operate.

Perhaps the greatest difference is that instead of applying a suite of diagnostic tools – an activity that can be done in-house – a team is actively deployed to examine the security measures in place and recommend courses of action to eliminate the threats they pose.

No damage is done to the existing online infrastructure – rather the team takes on the role of a third party looking to gain access, then provides a detailed report on their findings along with a list of recommended actions.

In this way a firm can gain information on where their online assets are vulnerable in real terms and action targeted security upgrades before a dedicated attack has the chance to occur.

Penetration Testing
Penetration Testing Teams

Good Business with Ethical Hacking

It is universally recognised that a brand that keeps good security measures in place is able to enjoy a better share of market confidence than one that publicly fails to manage the data it holds effectively.

While this may be an obvious marketing benefit of being seen to be conscientious in managing digital security, the financial effects can also be substantial.

Some firms may baulk at the prospect of ethical hacking – having a team of specialists delve into a system from the outside could seem counter-intuitive.

However, the benefits of this sort of activity are also quite weighty, as the trained professionals can uncover blind spots and security gaps before they are ever made public.

This helps to demonstrate a level of corporate responsibility that goes above and beyond legislative requirements, with a proactive stance that improves public perception and client morale.

On top of this, an ethical breach audit helps to serve as an investment in security – allowing the firm to make improvements to their defences and practices before a potentially expensive situation occurs.

In this way, good online security helps to act as a sort of digital insurance that protects against future events – a practice that is always good for business.