The first step to improving data security is admitting that no system is impenetrable and that breach attempts are inevitable.
Once businesses have faced up to the reality of the situation, they can start thinking about how best to prepare themselves for worst case scenarios.
Penetration testing companies in the UK and elsewhere have become an important security asset for organisations of all sizes in recent years. But why are the techniques used by ‘ethical hackers’ so essential for modern organisations?
As an abstract concept, cybercrime can be difficult to grasp, so it’s best to start with some cold, hard facts about the costs associated with malicious digital activities.
Last year the global economy was hit to the tune of around $600 billion (£431 billion) as a direct result of cybercrime. This represents an increase of almost £112 billion over the course of just three years.
So from the point of view of modern businesses, the need for penetration testing should be obvious. Without it, they open themselves up to the likelihood that they will be successfully attacked and thus join the growing list of firms that have fallen victim to a variety of illegal IT assaults.
This is not just about saving an organisation from expensive recovery costs and reputational damage. It is also about ensuring that the hackers themselves are not fuelled further by the revenues they generate from their meddling.
Firms that are hit by a breach are effectively responsible for funding cybercrime, even if only indirectly and without deliberate intent.
Weed Out Weaknesses
Penetration testing is useful for modern business because it is flexible, adaptable and able to extend into areas that many organisations might not have considered as a potential weak link.
For example, employees are often more vulnerable to exploitation than many decision-makers might realise. So even if IT resources are well protected in their own right, human error and incompetence can leave the gates wide open to hackers.
As part of a carefully crafted penetration test, you can launch a phishing campaign that targets your staff and establishes their level of resilience in the face of fraudulent correspondence. Once complete, you can then use the results to plan training and evaluation processes that will prevent real attacks from succeeding.
Best of all, penetration testing can be carried out as stealthily as possible to ensure that employees do not realise that they are being put under the microscope. This gives you the most realistic overview of how well they would cope with genuine breach attempts that use phishing and social engineering.
Build Customer Confidence
The topic of cyber security and the crimes associated with it are regularly discussed in mainstream circles. So you have to accept that your customers and clients are not only familiar with the risks that exist, but may have some first-hand experience of them as well.
With so much scrutiny focused on this area, businesses cannot ignore the need to demonstrate the extent to which they are willing to keep private data safe. If they fail to do so, customer confidence will be compromised and it may be difficult to win new clients, let alone maintain existing relationships.
Penetration testing is a suitable solution in this instance; a conspicuous way of showing the world that your organisation is not only au fait with security threats, but also eager to put its own systems and policies to the test.
Testing does not need to be limited to devices and networks, but can extend to your physical premises. This can help to reassure you and your customers alike that your organisation is set up in a resilient way, rather than being susceptible to leaks.
Working with qualified, accredited penetration testers is the key to overcoming the threats that face your business. It will have a raft of benefits, from improved IT resilience and security to enhanced customer confidence and lower long term costs.
Serious attacks can impact major corporations and small businesses alike, and recovery is unlikely to be quick and easy. Prevention is better than the cure, so penetration testing truly is essential for modern businesses that want to keep data safe.