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Why Penetration Testing is Not Enough

As the coronavirus wave recedes, another surges: cybersecurity. The new work-from-home norm has wreaked havoc on corporate IT and security teams, who are now scrambling to keep employee laptops safe and secure, and lockdown infrastructure access points.

Need proof? In 2021, organizations experienced 50-percent more cyberattacks per week than in 2020.

Penetration testing, the most common cybersecurity best practice, has previously been seen as adequate in pinpointing and securing these infrastructure access points, but now corporations are learning that the once or twice a year check is severely lacking. In addition, pen testing doesn’t address the newest threat: remote workers.

In order to be effective, regular pen testing must be supplemented by continuous monitoring, otherwise referred to as Attack Surface Management (ASM). Threats evolve too quickly to not incorporate continuous monitoring into your cybersecurity strategy.


5 Reasons You Need More than Pen Testing


  1. Not Testing Often Enough

Most organizations hire a security company to conduct penetration testing once a year. Some might see the error in this process and test twice a year, or even once per quarter. Regardless, you’d need to test daily, even hourly, to be 100 percent certain your organization is safe. And even then, hackers can still find a way in.

When a penetration test is conducted, that test evaluates the state of your organization at the current moment, a slice in time. Tomorrow, things can change quickly. Without a subsequent pen test, the initial test is rendered invalid the moment you develop a new process or hire a new vendor, opening the door to risk

  1. Delayed Remediation

When issues and weaknesses are discovered during a penetration test, it’s imperative to build a vulnerability management plan for remedying the situation immediately. Delays can only result in potential risk and put your company’s data in the hands of hackers.

Threat remediation involves eliminating suspicious activities and software that could cause a malicious attack. Ransomware, malware, phishing: all of these forms of attack can be identified and remediated with the proper processes and efforts by your cybersecurity team.

  1. Limited Resources

With the country in the throes of the Great Resignation, limited resources are an issue for most companies, but for years, the cybersecurity industry has faced a severe talent shortage. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs has grown by more than 50 percent since 2015.

If your security analyst team spends most of their days completing securing assessments, little time remains to remediate found issues. And the longer these issues live in your environment, the more likely it is that an attack will occur. 

  1. Testing Scope

A full-scale penetration test includes:

  • Internal Network Penetration Testing
  • External Network Penetration Testing
  • Physical Penetration Testing
  • Social Engineering Testing
  • Wireless Penetration Testing
  • Application Penetration Testing

Often, budgets or misperceptions about a company’s own safety status can limit the extent of a pen test. If a company only commits to a partial pen test, this can leave enormous gaps in its security posture. For example, if a company feels they do enough employee training on the possibility and types of phishing, and opts not to do Social Engineering Testing, this can create serious vulnerabilities

  1. Tester Inconsistency

Thousands of cybersecurity companies offer penetration testing, each with their own tools and approaches. And while you might research the company’s credentials and certifications, it’s the actual pen tester doing the work that must be researched.

In addition, a wide variety of testing standards exist. Some of the most commonly used frameworks include:

  • OWASP: Open Web Application Security Project
  • OSSTMM: The Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual
  • ISSAF: Information Systems Security Assessment Framework
  • NIST SP800-115PTES: Penetration Testing Execution Standard


Supplemental Security

While penetration testing is a great way to detect threat actors or malicious software, it’s never enough to thoroughly protect your organization on an ongoing basis. Attack Surface Management is a continuously monitoring threat detection system that constantly scans internet-facing assets, including websites, applications, and IP addresses, to identify threats the moment they appear. With ASM in place, you’ll receive alerts to any illicit access to your systems, allowing you to remediate the issue immediately before more serious damage occurs.

See ASM in Action

Join us at 10 am CDT on May 26 for the free webinar: Attack Surface Management: Staying Ahead of the Hackers. During this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • What is ASM and why is it a critical need?
  • The weakest point of infiltration in every organization
  • How to locate your issues and vulnerabilities before a hacker does
  • Top ways to keep your organization more secure
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