Pentests for effective defense against attackers 5 reasons why companies should rely on pentests
As data traffic increases every day, so does the risk of attacks by hackers. With the help of penetration tests, companies can protect their valuable data even before an attack hits the system or network. Using five reasons, Till Oberbeckmann explains why pentests provide optimal protection.
Companies on the topic
More and more people “live” on the Internet: This was particularly evident in the corona pandemic, when the first lockdown meant that companies sent their employees to the home office from one day to the next, children were taught via homeschooling, and people did their shopping more often than ever online and private and professional contacts had to be maintained almost exclusively via video conference. And the data volume will continue to rise: while it was around 33 zettabytes in 2018, data usage of around 175 zettabytes is forecast for 2025 – an increase of around 530 percent within less than 10 years.
According to SoSafe, the associated increased data traffic offers a much broader attack surface for “bad guys” who penetrate systems and networks and steal or damage data.
More traffic increases the risk of attack
How dangerous this can be for an organization was shown by the massive attack on the Technical University (TU) Berlin, in which Windows parts of the computer systems were paralyzed at the end of April 2021. As a consequence, according to Tagesspiegel, all servers had to be shut down. Even after several days, neither students nor employees were able to use their e-mails, and the administration continued to face significant restrictions with long-term effects because the entire SAP system was still switched off.
Pentests provide preventative protection
Such hacker attacks are simulated with a penetration test or pentest. This can be used to determine how secure infrastructures, networks, apps and web applications are. At the same time, vulnerabilities can be identified and gaps closed long before a hacker can penetrate an organization’s systems. The advantages of a pentest for companies can be summarized in these five convincing reasons:
1. Detect hidden vulnerabilities before a hacker finds them
In a pentest, the possible actions of a hacker are modeled. The tester starts a kind of hacker attack on the organization’s systems in order to check their resilience. In the process, however, no data is compromised, because in contrast to a malicious, real attack, the pentest is carried out in a controlled and secure manner. In addition, the company determines the time and scope of this simulated attack itself and is informed about the exploitation of the vulnerabilities. But by simulating a real attack, the pentest reliably uncovered security gaps due to unsafe settings, configuration errors, code errors or software errors.
2. Save renovation costs and reduce network downtimes
Of course, a pentest costs money. But it’s an expense that, in turn, can save businesses a huge amount of money. Thanks to the weak point detection, the pentest serves as a kind of orientation aid for where to invest in security. The costs for a possible network failure, as in the example of the TU Berlin, an operational disruption and the restoration of data after an attack can amount to several thousand or even millions of euros. A pentest therefore pays for itself almost faster than it is paid for.
3. Reliably comply with safety regulations
A company that carries out penetration tests has to provide the data protection authority with proof of compliance with the GDPR. This not only saves the company the cost of unnecessary security measures, because it can concentrate on protecting the actual vulnerabilities. In the long term, it avoids high fines that have to be paid to the authorities in the event of violations and data loss according to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). So if an attack does occur, the company meets all the requirements of the guideline and reduces extremely high costs for the recovery of customer data.
4. Ensure customer loyalty and corporate image
If sensitive data is compromised by a security attack, the affected company quickly loses the trust of its customers and the company’s image is at stake. Pentests can realistically analyze a company’s data security and reveal whether a potential attack will be successful. This means that customers also know that they are in good hands and can trust that they are working with a safe and forward-looking partner. No company should jeopardize this reputation.
5. Make targeted investments in efficient protection in the right areas
The results of a penetration test are usually presented to management as a report. This enables security experts to identify exactly in which areas there are gaps in order to invest in protection in precisely these areas. At the same time, experienced penetration testers can make recommendations for the early elimination of weak points and the establishment of reliable security systems.
Ethical hacking puts IT security to the test
Would you buy a car without taking a test drive? Or do you invite guests to a self-prepared 5-course menu without having tried it first? With these and many other examples from everyday life, you play it safe by simulating a specific situation in advance. You should also put your company’s valuable systems and data to the test in comprehensive pentests to protect them from a disaster that costs a lot of money.
About the author: The business informatics graduate and IT security expert Till Oberbeckmann decided to found the IT security consultant and service provider Turingpoint in May 2019 as a co-founder and managing partner thanks to his many years of IT industry experience. Since June 2020, with turingsecure, he has also been offering a modern approach to maximizing application security with automated security analyzes.