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Are External Pen Tests Worth the Price Tag?

External Penetration TestingCyber attacks are on the rise. Hackers have many different ways of breaking in, including targeting VPNs, websites, and email servers in an attempt to wreak havoc on your network.

This leads businesses both large and small to ask themselves one important question: Is there anything my business could do to prevent or mitigate cyber attacks?

One of the best (and most thorough) ways to answer this question is to hire what are often called “white hat hackers” to perform an external penetration (or pen) test on the network. ‘White hat’ hackers are either freelancers or even IT professionals who specialize in hunting down security vulnerabilities within a businesses’ existing networks.

BACS performs these tests as part of our IT Security Audit, and we consider it a core aspect of the Security Services we offer our clients.

If your business has these vulnerabilities (that can leave your wide open for ransomware attacks or even worse), an external pen test will give you the insight you need to minimize any potential negative impacts of an attack. You’ll be uniquely situated to apply fixes that will strengthen your security platform. While these tests do come with a price tag, they could prove pivotal to the overall long-term stability and health of your business or organization.

YOUR PEN TEST OPTIONS

There are a couple of different ways that a pen test can be performed. Either a business can choose to perform the test on its own, or they can contract with a security provider like BACS to perform the test on their behalf.

One tool a business may use to perform external penetration tests on its own is called Kali Linux. While this distribution is free, it nonetheless can be prone to blind spots, as the in-house IT team or individual employees tasked with running the test may not know exactly where critical vulnerabilities are likely to be located.

Signing up for a professional penetration test, on the other hand, involves IT professionals who are specifically trained in this form of testing to help get a better look at the weak links in your network that a hacker might be able to exploit. With added visibility into your network’s security and a set of fresh eyes taking a look, weaknesses may be discovered that would be otherwise overlooked.

More importantly, your business may be required by certain regulations, depending on your industry, to hire a 3rd party to perform these tests annually in order to fulfill audit requirements.

When you begin your search for a vendor that can perform these tasks, you may find pen tests with price tags running at around a couple thousand dollars for a fully accredited managed service provider to utilize a team to find network vulnerabilities.

This looks costly on paper, but any breach will likely end up with a much higher cost to repair after the fact.

Getting Ahead of the Game is More Important than Ever

If your security measures are breached and your business falls prey to a cyber attack, all data integrity is at stake. In one of the best case scenarios, a hacker may choose to simply encrypt all your operational data and hold it for ransom. This is called “ransomware”, a topic we’ve covered before on previous blogs. In even more disastrous scenarios, hackers will steal customer or transactional information and sell it on the black market, meaning that your business could end up being held legally accountable for the loss of precious data like Social Security numbers, private customer information, medical details, credit card numbers, and more.

Most businesses are only as secure as their reputations. If your data is breached, the cornerstone of your organization will be under attack. With the recent popularity in the media of ransomware and other cyber attacks, you’ll likely face increased media scrutiny and public awareness, which could hurt your reputation even further.

Make Sure to Stay One Step Ahead

With so many high profiles hacks in recent years, it is important to note that businesses of any size can become the target of a cyber attack. Here are quick tips to help you keep your business safe from attacks.

  • Update consistently and back up data continuously
  • Filter all content on web browsing sessions (read more on firewalls here)
  • Allow only the use of company-approved equipment on your network
  • Encourage all employees to learn about basic cyber security awareness tactics
  • E-mail filters and updated anti-virus programs are essential

Hiring a Pen Tester? Here’s What You Need to Know

When looking to hire an external penetration tester, it’s important to know the right questions to ask in advance.

Make sure you ask for a redacted report they’ve provided to another client. Without giving away any confidential security details, this report will let you know how thorough the company’s testing services are, helping you to see the value in the attached price tag.

If they are unable to provide such a report, it doesn’t necessarily point to a lack of trustworthiness. They may provide a short presentation instead, which is fine. Just watch for how detailed this presentation is and how well they work to help you understand the process.

If your business adheres to HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI-DSS, or another type of popular industry standard, you’ll want to contract a penetration testing firm that can specifically ensure that your organization can pass an information security audit pertaining to the particular guidelines that govern your industry.

When you want tried and true IT security, give BACS a call. We pride ourselves on both scaling to fit businesses of all sizes and also our ability to keep up with changing industry standards and new lines of cyber attack that require new kinds of prevention and defense. Whether you’re looking for more information or are interested in signing up for our security services today, we’d love to hear from you! Just give us a call at (650) 887-4601 or contact us online at any time.

How secure is your system? Find out before bad guys do. Request an IT Security Audit today!

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