What is a Pen Test and How Often Should You Be Doing One?

OCTOBER 18TH, 2018
Are you confident that your IT team is ready to handle a security breach? Though you may have up-to-date firewalls, cybersecurity training programs, data back-ups, file encryptions, and all the other bells and whistles, there is always a chance for holes in your infrastructure to go unnoticed. Don’t worry though, there’s a test for that.

What is a Pen Test?

Think of a penetration (pen) test as a fire drill for your organization’s cybersecurity plan. It’s essentially a method of testing used to discover any vulnerabilities in your system before hackers are able to detect and exploit them. Simulating a cyberattack on your own defenses is the perfect way to make sure you are prepared in case of a real one. It also prepares everyone on your team on what to do in the event of a breach.
After the test is completed, a formal evaluation of the current security plan should be written in plain-speak for non-IT team members, and in more technical detail for the staff members who actually participate in building the cybersecurity plan.

When Should You Attempt One?

The best time to perform a pen test can vary from company to company. It’s up to the CIO to decide when a system is ready for it. One standard best practice is to ensure you leave enough time after a network or system deployment before any testing commences. If a system or network is on the newer side, there will be kinks or holes found in its early stages. These can be missed if a test is performed too soon. In an ideal world, a pen test would be carried out before a system goes live to catch any issues before the full operation begins.

How Often Should You Be Testing?

Oftentimes, companies don’t put in the effort to pen test until after they’ve been breached, and a hacker has successfully implanted a virus and made off with valuable data. At this point, companies use it to find the hole the hacker exploited, seal it and ensure no one else can gain access.
Some businesses only pen test once, generally to follow regulations set either by the law, a board of directors or another governing body. But this is a mistake, as well. Cybercriminals and cyberattacks are evolving at a much faster rate than the development of regulations. Being up to scratch with a certain set of rules doesn’t always mean you’re totally secure. How often you should be performing a pen test can come down to a variety of factors including company size, budget, and infrastructure. If you’re a big business with loads of systems in place, chances are you’ll want to test for vulnerabilities more often than an SMB whose systems change less often. Plus, bigger companies tend to have bigger budgets, allowing them to test more often. Ultimately, systems change, improve and develop new vulnerabilities over time. Try to ensure you do a pen test as often as you can to keep up with these changes.

Is a Pen Test All I Need to Ensure the Security of My Data?

Although pen tests are a key element to ensuring a flawless security infrastructure, statistically speaking, more cyberattacks occur because of intentional or unintentional negligence by staff within an organization. Prevention for these mistakes should be left to a well-trained IT team, who know the ins and outs of their craft and can teach them to other staff members in a way they'll understand. Great security starts with a great data back-up and recovery plan delivered by a trusted, data recovery pro. Contact StorageCraft today to learn more about all the solutions we offer and how we can help you secure your data.