How Penetration Testing Can Help Keep Your Information Safe

In this day and age, when nearly every aspect of our lives is connected via the internet, it’s not hard to see how data security is becoming a top priority. A recent study found that almost half of the businesses surveyed in the country believed that data breaches would become more widespread as the internet evolved to become even more of a personal assistant. Given this, you’d think companies would take greater steps to secure their information before it gets into the wrong hands. However, with so many technology startups entering the security testing space every day, it can be difficult to know which practices are grounded in reality and which ones are just hot air. Even within the security testing world, there are plenty of misconceptions and bad practices that need to be confronted head-on if we’re going to protect our data with penetration testing. This article will clear up some of those misunderstandings and leave you with guidelines for protecting your data with penetration testing.

Perimeter Security Testing

Perimeter security tests, also known as in-house security or pen testing, are checks that are specific to the inside of a company. In-house security is generally more detailed than that which comes with a contract to perform security testing. However, it still requires basic skills such as setting up a computer network and avoiding pitfalls like accidentally uploading sensitive data. Most security testing firms will perform a standard set of perimeter security tests. Still, these companies tend to focus less on the back end, like the Internet-facing software, and more on the front end, like the web application. With this focus, they are often more apt to spot issues before they become a problem.

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Staying in the Know with Security Updates

Keeping up with security updates is a must for any IT manager. It may seem like a simple task, but there are millions of devices connected to the internet and thousands of software updates released each month. A company with poor update practices could find itself in hot water with the authorities, having its data stolen or released through a DDOS attack. Keeping up with security patches is crucial to staying secure, but it’s not always easy. For many companies, it’s difficult or impossible to keep up with all the patches and updates. There may be a lack of resources such as staffing or funding to keep up with the growing list of monthly updates. This can lead to frustration, anxiety, and even further possible breach. It’s important to remember that security is a process and not an event, and companies that take the slow and steady approach to patching and updating will be much more secure than those who rush to meet the threats.

Device and Service Management (DSM) Practice

Companies that follow a device and service management approach to security are taking extra precautions to protect their data. By designating certain devices, like computers and smartphones, as critical, companies make it harder for would-be intruders to access data. This approach is often referred to as device agnosticism, but it should be stressed that all devices are not equal. Some are more valuable than others. Critical devices, like smartphones, require special attention. In-house employees who have limited or no experience with such devices can be left out of the loop in this approach.

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Restricting Access to What You Need

One of the most common misconceptions about penetration testing is that the goal is to get into “secure” areas of a company. While this may seem like the best way to go about it, penetration testing isn’t about getting into the server room or a company’s back end. The goal is to find weaknesses in the security of as many systems as possible, not gain access to sensitive data. There may be times when getting into sensitive data-holding systems is necessary, but it should be done only as a last resort. Getting into the back end of a company is not the goal in and of itself. Getting into the computers that make up the front end of a company is what needs to be addressed first. Penetration testing is about testing the security of the front end of a company, not the back end.

Conclusion

The number one priority for any company when it comes to data security is to protect their data. But what exactly should a company do to ensure the safety of its data? The short answer is – Get Penetration Testing! Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to cover some of the misconceptions related to penetration testing and the steps involved in protecting your data.