Businesses across all sectors must comply with many compliance standards and regulations pertaining to information security in today’s increasingly regulated startup environment. While the transition from paper to digital storage has allowed organizations to increase efficiency in various ways, it has also increased the incidence of malicious hackers launching a slew of attacks to steal confidential information. Therefore, compliance frameworks and cybersecurity regulations are more relevant than ever, but keeping track of so many new compliance laws can be challenging.
This is where organizations can use penetration testing, or pen testing, as a way to evaluate a company’s security infrastructure and adherence to these compliance standards. Some frameworks require regular pen testing more so than others, for example, the Payments Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). However, from SOC to GDPR to CMMC, cybersecurity teams are mandated to utilize pen testing to assess the effectiveness of their security infrastructures, platform, APIs, and security compliances.
In this blog, we will provide you with an overview of penetration testing—what it is, why you need it, and its benefits and costs.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is the process of simulating a hacking scenario in order to reveal and exploit vulnerabilities and security flaws in a website, web application, or network. This is an offensive security measure in which security engineers attempt to break into your system in order to find and repair vulnerabilities.
What is Penetration Testing for Compliance?
When your systems are penetration tested, security professionals create a penetration test summary. This report details the vulnerabilities as well as the measures to address them. After you have rectified the vulnerabilities, a rescan is performed to ensure that all loopholes have been closed and your system is secure. Various industries require this type of testing and certification in order to accomplish certain local and global security compliance for their company.
The scope and frequency of the pen test are dictated by the security laws under consideration.
To reduce the attack surface before hackers exploit them, a business must remediate high-risk discoveries as soon as they are reported by penetration testers.
Penetration testing is needed to satisfy auditor requirements for most security certifications such as ISO 27001 or attestations such as SOC 2, PCI DSS, and other frameworks, as well as to comply with cybersecurity and privacy laws such as HIPAA or industry-specific regulations.
Why Do You Need Penetration Testing?
Small and medium-sized businesses are surprisingly more prone to security threats than big companies with various security measures fighting these malicious hacking attempts. Hackers take the path of least resistance, preferring to target unlikely targets such as suppliers and service providers, and they are motivated for a variety of reasons, including profit, activism, espionage, revenge, identity theft, IP theft, or simply disruption and denial of service.
Here are five reasons why you should consider penetration testing for your company:
- Protect Your Product and Customers: Every company aims to gain and keep customers’ trust. Even if your application is deployed in the cloud using a shared responsibility model, you are responsible for safeguarding your product and your customer’s data and identities. As part of their procurement, legal, and security due research, customers may request proof of an annual third-party penetration test.
- Protect Your Data: If you store any PII/PHI/PCI data in your cloud environment and fail to protect the security and privacy of your customers’ data, you could face steep monetary fines from your industry’s legal and regulatory oversight authorities. Everything from credit cards, PayPal accounts, crypto accounts, social media accounts, streaming accounts, forged IDs and documents, and email dumps garner high prices on the Dark Web. Regular penetration tests can uncover misconfigurations, weak encryption, known vulnerabilities, default credentials, and confidential data that your APIs, applications, and data stores have unintentionally exposed.
- Continuous Security Verification: Penetration testing can confirm that your security tools, such as Web Application Firewalls (WAF) or Email Filters, function properly. It can also detect any changes in your company’s security posture, for better or worse, as your business activities, users, employees, partners, and rivals change.
- Adhere to Compliance Requirements: The regulators, insurance companies, and clients’ vendor management may require a penetration test report or statement of attestation from a penetration tester to ensure that you have a serious threat and vulnerability management practice before issuing you a purchase order.
- Obtain and keep security licenses and certifications: SOC 2 and ISO 27001 auditors require a penetration test to corroborate proof of mature threat and vulnerability management practices at your company.
What are the Benefits of Penetration Testing?
Cyberattacks are always a risk whether you operate a SaaS platform or are in charge of information security at a healthcare facility. The best option is to identify vulnerabilities before hackers do.
Here are the five primary benefits of penetration testing:
- Manage Risk Properly
One of the most common advantages of penetration testing for many organizations is that it provides a baseline to work from in order to cure the risk in a structured and optimal manner. A penetration test will reveal the vulnerabilities in the target environment and the risks connected with them. A high-order risk assessment will be conducted, and the vulnerabilities will be classified as High/Medium/Low-risk levels. The risk levels will assist you in addressing the most serious threats first, followed by others.
- Ensure Business Continuity
Any successful organization’s primary worry is business continuity. A break in business continuity can occur for a variety of causes. Vulnerable systems experience more vulnerability breaches than secure systems. Today,
attackers are paid by other organizations to disrupt business continuity by exploiting vulnerabilities to gain access and cause a denial of service situation, which typically crashes the vulnerable service and disrupts server availability.
- Evaluate ROI on Security Investments
Penetration testing provides a snapshot of the current security posture and the chance to identify potential breach points.
The penetration test will provide us with an independent assessment of the effectiveness of current security processes, ensuring that proper configuration management practices have been implemented.
This is an excellent chance to assess the effectiveness of your current security investment—what needs to be improved, what is working, what isn’t, and how much money is required to create a more secure environment in the organization.
- Increase Credibility and Protect the Reputation of the Company
A decent public image and company reputation are built over many years of struggle, hard effort, and significant investment. This can be drastically altered by a single security failure.
The public’s perception of an organization’s security is extremely sensitive to security problems and can have disastrous consequences that may take years to repair. So, if a comprehensive pen test is performed on a regular basis, companies can build a strong barrier against unauthorized attackers who are always attempting to infiltrate and obtain access to any organization.
- Test Cybersecurity Defenses
During a penetration test, the target company’s security team should be able to identify and react to multiple attacks in real-time. In addition, if an intrusion is discovered, the security and forensic teams should launch an investigation, and penetration testers should be blocked and their tools removed.
During a penetration test, the efficacy of your security devices, such as IDS, IPS, or WAF, can also be tested. Many attacks should be detected automatically, alerts should be produced, and dedicated personnel should follow the company’s internal procedures.
How Frequently Do You Need To Perform Penetration Testing?
Most auditors, if not client vendor risk managers, will expect you to perform a third-party penetration test at least twice a year. You should select a penetration testing partner who can handle penetration tests at regular intervals at a reasonable cost. To be included in your control matrix, the penetration test must be finished before the end of your SOC 2 observation period.
How Much Does a Pen Test Cost?
The cost of a penetration test varies according to the size of your applications, the number of attack vectors, and the test style you select. To obtain an accurate quote, you must first conduct a scoping activity.
Your penetration testing partner should meet your expectations, and the guidelines below can help you discover your match.
Continuous Compliance With Akitra!
Establishing trust is a crucial competitive differentiator when prospecting new SaaS businesses in today’s era of data breaches and compromised privacy. Customers and partners want assurances that their organizations are doing everything possible to prevent disclosing sensitive data and putting them at risk, and compliance certification fills that need.
Akitra offers an industry-leading, AI-powered Compliance Automation platform for SaaS companies. Using automated evidence collection and continuous monitoring, together with a full suite of customizable policies and controls as a compliance foundation, our service helps customers become certified for HIPAA along with other frameworks like SOC 1, SOC 2, ISO 27001, ISO 27701, ISO 27017, ISO 27018, ISO 13485, GDPR, PCI DSS, FedRAMP, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, NIST CSF, CMMC, and other specific frameworks such as CIS AWS Foundations Benchmark, etc. Our compliance and security experts will provide customized guidance to navigate the end-to-end compliance process confidently.
The benefits of our solution include enormous savings in time, human resources, and cost savings—including discounted audit fees with our audit firm partners. Customers achieve compliance certification fast and cost-effectively, stay continuously compliant as they grow, and can become certified under additional frameworks using a single compliance automation platform.
Build customer trust. Choose Akitra TODAY!
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