A penetration test, or pen-test, is an attempt to evaluate the security of an IT infrastructure by safely trying to exploit vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities may exist in operating systems, services and application flaws, improper configurations or risky end-user behavior. Such assessments are also useful in validating the efficacy of defensive mechanisms, as well as, end-user adherence to security policies.
Penetration tests are typically performed using manual or automated technologies to systematically compromise servers, endpoints, web applications, wireless networks, network devices, mobile devices and other potential points of exposure. Once vulnerabilities have been successfully exploited on a particular system, testers may attempt to use the compromised system to launch subsequent exploits at other internal resources – specifically by trying to incrementally achieve higher levels of security clearance and deeper access to electronic assets and information via privilege escalation.
Information about any security vulnerabilities successfully exploited through penetration testing is typically aggregated and presented to IT and network system managers to help those professionals make strategic conclusions and prioritize related remediation efforts. The fundamental purpose of penetration testing is to measure the feasibility of systems or end-user compromise and evaluate any related consequences such incidents may have on the involved resources or operations
Penetration testing offers many benefits, allowing you to:
• Intelligently manage vulnerabilities
• Avoid the cost of network downtime
• Meet regulatory requirements and avoid fines
• Preserve corporate image and customer loyalty
As you can see, obtaining a penetration-testing software or hiring a pen-tester to test your network is a proactive effort of protecting your network and business from risks before attacks or security breaches occur.
Security breaches and service interruptions are costly.
Security breaches and any related interruptions in the performance of services or applications, can result in direct financial losses, threaten organizations’ reputations, erode customer loyalties, attract negative press, and trigger significant fines and penalties.
It is impossible to safeguard all information, all the time.
Traditionally, organizations have sought to prevent breaches by installing and maintaining layers of defensive security mechanisms, including user access controls, cryptography, IPS, IDS and firewalls. However, continued adoption of new technologies, including some of these security systems, has made it even harder to find and eliminate all of an organizations’ vulnerabilities and protect against many types of potential security incidents.
Penetration-testing identifies and prioritizes security risks.
Pen-testing evaluates an organization’s ability to protect its networks, applications, endpoints and users from external or internal attempts to circumvent its security controls to gain unauthorized or privileged access to protected assets.