Pros and cons of penetration testing

Cyber attacks are costly to any organisation. They can cripple systems, lead to large fines and cause reputational damage. Performing an internal penetration test can help safeguard your organisation and its network.  

Penetration testing is globally acknowledged as an important part of cyber security, but, like any security mechanism, it’s not perfect.  

Below is an outline of the pros and cons of conducting penetration tests. 

Pros: 

Penetration testing can identify a range of vulnerabilities in your organisations systems. 

Irish organisations are exposed to a host of potential threats, each of which could exploit hundreds of different vulnerabilities. Such vulnerabilities are open to potentially devastating attacks, such as SQL injection, and even a seemingly benign error page can provide attackers with enough information to exploit a less obvious and much more harmful vulnerability. 

Vulnerability assessment. 

Small vulnerabilities may appear negligible; however, criminal hackers often seek out these weaknesses to create intrusion sequences that take small, steady efforts to pry open security gaps into much larger weaknesses. A penetration tester can identify the weak areas that organisations often overlook. 

Reports will provide specific advice. 

The final step of a penetration test is to report the vulnerabilities. Unlike automatically generated reports from tools that offer generic remediation tips, reports from penetration tests can rank and rate vulnerabilities according to the scale of the risk and the organisation’s budget. 

Cons: 

If penetration tests are not done properly, they can cause a lot of damage. 

Tests that are not carried out properly can crash servers, expose sensitive data, corrupt crucial production data, or cause a host of other adverse effects associated with mimicking a criminal hack. 

You are required to trust the penetration tester. 

Penetration testing essentially means that you’re inviting someone to hack into your systems, so you’re relying on the tester not to abuse their skills and knowledge. If you don’t hire someone you can trust to do the job, your security attempts may backfire spectacularly. 

If you don’t employ realistic test conditions, the results will be misleading. 

Employees are likely to prepare for a test that they know is going to take place, meaning that the organisation appears to be stronger than it actually is. A genuine attack will come without warning and in ways that are creative and hard to plan for. 

Learn more about penetration testing 

If you’re considering a penetration test, IT Governance offers a number of fixed-price packages. Our recent data sheet outlines our services and methodology, as well as the benefits of using IT Governance. 

For instance, we are CREST-accredited, as are our penetration testers, and we are experts in many standards, including the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), ISO 27001 and ISO 22301. 

Find out more about penetration testing here >> 

 

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