Penetration testing is a process that involves identifying and attempting to exploit security vulnerabilities in a computer system or network. The goal of penetration testers is to find weak spots in your system that hackers could exploit and help you fix them before they can be used against you.
In this day and age, with drastically increasing cybercrime rates, it’s more important than ever for businesses of all sizes to invest in penetration testing (and cybersecurity in general).
Let’s dive deeper into why your business needs penetration testing services and how it can contribute to your overall security and business growth.
Cybercrime on the rise
In 2021, there was an overall increase of a staggering 50% in the number of weekly cyberattacks compared to the year before. In the last quarter of 2021, targeted organizations worldwide suffered from over 900 cyber attacks per week!
An industry that experienced the most growth in terms of cybercrime was the education and research sector. In 2021, organizations in this sector experienced the highest volume of attacks per week – an average of over 1,605 attacks per organization.
Other industries that faced a high volume of cybercrime in 2021 include the government and military, communications, and ISP and MSP sectors.
What does all this data mean?
To put it in a bleak way, no company – no matter how big or small – is immune to cybercrime. The fact is, cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated every day, and they’re coming for your data.
This is why it’s so important for businesses to invest in penetration testing and other cyber security measures. Pen testers can help you find vulnerabilities in your system before hackers exploit them, and they can help you strengthen your security posture to protect your data better.
Here are some of the most significant benefits of regularly performing penetration testing.
Mitigate risks – become proactive
You may not have any idea how safe or how exposed your business is to cyberattacks. You may also not know what you don’t know. Penetration testing can help you uncover these vulnerabilities and address them before they become a bigger problem. It should be observed as a risk assessment and risk management endeavor.
It’s much better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to cybersecurity. By proactively mitigating your risks, you’re less likely to suffer from a data breach or other cyber incident that could have serious consequences for your business.
One of the best ways to mitigate risks is to have an incident response plan. This plan will help you quickly and effectively respond to a cyberattack if it does occur. And, of course, penetration testing can help you create and test your incident response plan..
The most significant reason why cyberattacks are so devastating to businesses is the cost of downtime. The average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million, incurred through the loss of customers, damaged reputation, legal battles, and more.
But the cost of downtime can be even higher.
Downtime can refer to many things, such as when a system is unavailable for use, when data is inaccessible, or when an organization experiences reduced productivity.
Pen testing ensures that your systems are as resilient as possible to downtime and other costs, saving your business money in the long run.
Comply with security regulations
The benefits of penetration testing don’t just stop at mitigating risk and saving money. Businesses may also need to perform a pen test to comply with certain security regulations.
Suppose you collect personally identifiable information (PII), credit card data, or other sensitive information. In that case, you’re likely required to adhere to certain security regulations (such as ISO 27001, HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, and similar). Many of these regulations require a formal risk assessment process, and penetration testing is a key part of this process.
By performing regular penetration tests, you can ensure that your systems meet the requirements for compliance. And if you do experience a data breach, you’ll be able to prove that you took the necessary steps to secure your data.
Acquire larger clients
An impenetrable security posture can be attractive to larger clients who may have a higher risk of being hacked.
For example, the American big-box conglomerate Target got hacked in 2013. The hackers stole information from up to 40 million credit and debit cards of Target shoppers. The breach cost the company millions of dollars in damages, not to mention the loss of trust from their customers.
But how did the breach happen in the first place? It turns out that the hackers entered Target’s systems through a third-party vendor. This is a common attack vector, and it’s something that businesses need to be aware of.
So, to have a chance to work with larger clients (or keep your current larger clients), you need to show them that you have a robust and effective security posture. Penetration testing is one way to do just that.
Protect your reputation
As in the case of Target described above, a data breach can seriously negatively impact a company’s reputation. Customers or clients may no longer trust the business with their personal data, and they may even take their business elsewhere.
This is why it’s so important for businesses to have a strong cybersecurity strategy in place, including regular pen tests. Your reputation is on the line, and you can’t afford to take any chances.
If you can show that you’re doing everything possible to protect your data, you’re less likely to suffer from a data breach. And if one does occur, you’ll be in a much better position to handle the fallout.
Do small businesses need penetration testing?
It is a common misconception that only businesses of a certain size need to worry about cybersecurity. The fact is, every business is at risk of a cyberattack.
As in the case of Target described above, a data breach can seriously negatively impact a company’s reputation. Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report confirms that 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses, especially in the insurance, legal, retail, financial, and healthcare industries.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable for a number of reasons:
- Higher tendency to use weak passwords
- Weak payment systems
- Lack of formal cyber plans and policies
- Outdated technology and poor maintenance
- Lack of specialized IT or security staff and more
Simply put, small businesses are an easy target for cybercriminals.
A cyber attack also has far more devastating consequences for a small business than it does for a large company. According to the COO of the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College, over 60% of small businesses that experience a cyber attack go out of business. They don’t have enough resources or workforce to recover from the attack.
This is why it’s so important for small businesses to implement a cybersecurity plan, which should include regular penetration testing. By doing so, you can make yourself less of a target for cybercriminals and ensure that your data is safe in the event of a breach.
When should you do penetration testing?
If you’ve never done a penetration test before, it would be wise to do one as soon as possible. However, you don’t need to do a full-blown penetration test every time you have a new update or security patch.
That would be both costly and time-consuming. A better approach is to perform regular vulnerability assessments. These assessments can identify any weak spots in your security so that you can fix them before they become a problem.
If you’ve been the victim of a cyberattack, you should do a penetration test. You should also do one if you have sensitive data that you want to protect, such as customer data or financial information.
In short, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when you should do a penetration test. It depends on your specific needs and situation. However, it’s always a good idea to perform regular vulnerability assessments, and if you’ve been the victim of a cyberattack, you should definitely do a full-blown penetration test.
One clear take away from all this is that every business needs to have a strong cybersecurity plan, including regular penetration testing.
The benefits of pen testing are multifold. It can help you protect your data from cybercriminals, enhance your cybersecurity policies, prevent loss of money and reputation, and even help you land larger clients who are looking for evidence of due diligence. Making your business compliant with industry regulations is another bonus.
It’s a wise investment for any business, big or small. If you’re running a small business, it’s especially important to make sure that you’re doing everything possible to safeguard your data. Only one cyber attack could be the end of your business. So make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent that.
If you’re not doing penetration testing already, you should consider it. It could be the difference between success and failure in the age of cybercrime. Contact us today to learn more about our penetration testing training and services.