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Choosing A Penetration Testing Service Provider

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cybersecurity measures for small business

An organization can be brought to its knees in a single security breach. The threat of such an event is an ongoing challenge for organizations.

To keep one step ahead of hackers and their destructive actions like data theft, businesses must avert security risks by conducting regular penetration tests, also known as ‘pen testing’.

What Is Pentesting?

Penetration testing entails testing the defensive security mechanisms of a specific IT asset.

Another term for penetration or pen testing is ethical hacking. Essentially, it is an authorized simulated cyberattack to test for security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The tester doesn’t know how the business has set up its security.

Wikipedia says the pen tester is looking for blindspots missed by the security developers. Using offensive adversarial tactics to attempt to crack the security codes put in place it’s a practice that is repeated regularly to continuously improve security.

Pen testers can carry out the operation on-site or remotely. It all depends on the scope the business wants to cover.

Through penetration testing, businesses can do the following:

  • Validate their security measures
  • Evaluate the adequacy of their security controls
  • Determine what extra security layers to implement

What are pen testers testing?

Penetration testing applies to a broad range of infrastructure, including:

  • Wired and wireless network infrastructure
  • Web applications
  • Mobile applications
  • Security controls

Evaluating Pen Testing Service Providers

A business should evaluate penetration testing providers before hiring them.

Pentesting Skills & Qualifications

Does the tester have the skills needed for the specific penetration tests the business requires? This scrutiny goes beyond the general qualifications.

Cloud Pen Testing

For instance, if the business needs cloud penetration testing, it’s not enough to go with the firm that says, “Yeah, the pentest team does internal and external penetration testing all year.”

A business with a cloud infrastructure needs to hire a pen testing provider with cloud penetration testing experience. Of course, this is not the only test, so it also helps if the provider has a team of experts with diverse skills.

What your business should also require from the penetration testing provider is a process document with the following:

  • Their testing methodology, e.g., open, closed, internal, and external
  • The pen testing steps
  • What tools will be used

Note: Each testing tool has different features. Therefore, we suggest using a combination of tools for more detailed results.

Common Pen Testing Tools

As for pen testing tools, expect your provider to use the following:

  • Password cracker
  • Web proxy
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • Network sniffer
  • Port scanner

Industry experience

Delve into the industry experience of the pen testers you’re evaluating.

It may not be a deal-breaker if your preferred provider lacks experience in your industry as long as they have ample cross-sector expertise.

Plus, they understand the prevailing security requirements needed in industries where security breaches have dire consequences. For example,

the finance sector must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). If your business takes credit card payments, you will want a pen tester who understands the compliance requirements for customer data protection.

Up-To-Date with Systems Security Frameworks

Changes in the world of IT systems happen fast. It’s a revolving door of new technologies, protocols, firmware patches, and updates. Businesses should hire a pen testing professional who’s up-to-date on testing tools and security solutions.

Does a widely used framework have updated guidelines or a new tool?

The best candidate, in this case, would be one who knows about these developments and, more importantly, implements them.

Do They Offer Post-Testing Services?

Beyond carrying out the test, a good ethical hacker should have a post-testing roadmap. Will they issue a comprehensive report showing what to do with the results, including:

  • The extent of exposure
  • How severe are the vulnerabilities
  • What are the remediation steps
  • The retesting schedule

A penetration tester’s work isn’t over until they’ve retested the network. Once the tester maps out vulnerabilities, the business then starts remediation. Only a retest can show if the remediation was a success.

How Secure Is the Tester’s Data Protection System?

By hiring a pen testing service provider, your business exposes confidential information to an outsider. As such, the tester must prove they can securely handle the organization’s data.

Perhaps the penetration testing supplier works with in-house staff only. Or they may engage third parties and freelancers. If so, do they have confidentiality agreements to protect client information?

Additionally, they should clearly explain how they would keep the client’s data secure before, during, and after the pentest. Some questions your business can ask pen testing service providers concerning data security include the following:

  • How will they transmit data?
  • Who in the pen-testing company will have access to the data?
  • How long will they store client data?
  • How will they dispose of client data?

Final Thoughts

Be thorough in your assessment and evaluation of penetration testing service providers. Use the information we have provided to get the answers you need to choose the right pen-testing service for your business. Use a third-party consultant to assist you in your assessment so you know you’ve made the right choice.