Penetration testing refers to the process of determining the effectiveness of a system’s security controls against a capable and committed human cyber attacker. As the owner of a startup, you need to invest in penetration testing because it offers significant benefits that will be critical for the growth and longevity of your business.
Penetration testing is often mistaken for compliance assessment or vulnerability screening, however, it is a step up from these two because it does not just stop at identifying vulnerabilities. It also assesses the impact of a successful attack and offers evidence that business owners can use to justify an increase in investment in security tools, technology, and personnel.
Here are the eight reasons why startups like yours need penetration testing.
1. Pinpoint areas for improvement
Recent studies show that more than 50% of startups and small businesses suffer from a cyber attack each year. More than 60% of these compromised organizations go out of business within the next six months. These figures show that doing the bare minimum for cybersecurity measures is no longer advisable.
Instead, startups like yours should be prepared to invest in technology and personnel that can fortify your defenses. A penetration testing should be your first investment because it will reveal where you’re the weakest and which areas of your business require higher levels of security. Some companies even offer penetration testing training to provide your cybersecurity personnel with the right set of skills to effectively deal with security threats.
This includes a wide range of strategies from simple measures such as avoiding opening phishing emails and using strong passwords to techniques that involve technical expertise such as software training.
2. Determine the impact of potential attacks
Investing in penetration testing will enable you to determine the extent of the impact of successful attacks, especially when it comes to your operations. Knowing which aspects of your business will be potentially affected adversely will allow you to come up with an effective course of action to respond appropriately to any threat.
Unlike a typical vulnerability assessment, penetration testing does not stop with identifying weakness in your system. Instead, penetration testers will exploit the weaknesses they find to precisely determine the extent of damage that an actual hacker can do to your business. Below are some of the most common services that penetration testers offer:
- Application testing
- Network testing, which incorporates firewall bypass tests, domain name servers or DNS attacks testing, and system crash tests
- Wireless testing, which entails finding weaknesses within the network’s access points
- Payment Card Industry or PCI testing, which aims to protect sensitive card data
Once penetration testing has successfully established the potential impact of actual attacks, they can help your business design remediation programs and system improvements. An improved and secured system will help you better achieve your business objectives and prevent unexpected financial losses from hacks and attacks.
3. Identify vulnerabilities
Unlike the other types of vulnerability and risk assessments, the focus of a penetration test is on the team of testers that will be working on your system. For best results, make sure that you schedule regular penetration testing for your startup. Their skills and experience in the field will be crucial in determining how they repel and leverage an actual attack on your system.
Many business owners are overconfident and believe that hackers won’t target them because of the size of their company. This cannot be further from reality. Hackers are getting smarter by the minute and can target anyone. Penetration testing will enable you to find vulnerabilities in your system, website, or app. These include the following types of weaknesses:
- Vulnerabilities that may be tough or nearly impossible to detect using your usual security tools and software
- High-risk vulnerabilities which are made possible because of low-risk vulnerabilities that are exploited simultaneously
- Holes in the operating system
- Misconfigurations and service errors
- Unsafe or risky behaviors of end-users in your system
Whenever there is a change in your network infrastructure, you need to invest in penetration testing to evaluate what security controls you need to have to match the changes made in your system.
4. Simulate real attack scenarios
One of the best benefits of a reliable penetration test is that it simulates the same stresses that your system would go through in case there is an actual hacking attempt. Penetration testing gives you the experience you need to deal with any future attacks, without suffering from the dangers of an actual intrusion.
A penetration test will help you identify vulnerabilities and provide you with the opportunity to resolve them before a real attack takes place. While a penetration test may not actually compromise any sensitive information or steal sums of money from your business, the company conducting the penetration test will be able to provide you with extensive details on the following:
- How they were able to break into your system
- What needs to be done to stop an attack in its tracks
- How to remove a hacker from your system
A penetration test ensures that you do not have to learn your lesson through an expensive, real attack. This means that you can correct any errors before a hacker can exploit any vulnerabilities in your system. It’s definitely better to learn from a simulated attack instead of an actual one.
5. Meet compliance standards
A penetration test is essentially a mandatory requirement for businesses, agencies, and organization in many states and countries around the world. The reports provided by penetration testers can help your business observe due diligence and demonstrate to the relevant government agency that you are complying with their standards.
Many governing bodies across the globe impose hefty fines for non-compliance and failure to protect customers’ data. In fact, in many countries, businesses that are hacked and lose valuable data because of the lack of proper security measures tend to face heavier fines and penalties. With penetration testing, you do not have to worry about paying for costly penalties on top of the financial losses from data loss or breach.
Just keep in mind that you should always choose an accredited and experienced penetration tester. This is necessary not only to ensure that you are not wasting your money and time, but also because your choice will influence the outcome of the test and the possibility of a successful security breach in the future.
6. Prevent network downtime
Every minute that your website is down, whether from a security breach or any other reason, represents a lost opportunity to close a sale or attract a new customer. Penetration testing helps ensure that you can stop these attacks from happening in the first place and prevent lengthy downtime.
Security breaches, in particular, can take some time to properly resolve. Recovering from a security breach can get very costly. From IT remediation efforts to legal recourse, you’re looking at a ton of expenses for your business over a prolonged period of time.
7. Protect brand image
Compromising your customers’ personal data and information because of the lack of proactive action or negligence can effectively destroy your reputation. Not only does it adversely affect the image that your customers have about your brand and their loyalty to your company, it will also considerably impact your bottom line.
Security breaches essentially produce negative press, bringing down customer trust in the reliability and quality of your products and services. In fact, studies show that customer’s loss of trust cost businesses several millions of dollars.
Investing in penetration testing will help your business avoid security breaches that ultimately put your brand’s image at stake. It is a process that does not only protect your network and system, but also your reputation and brand.
8. Save money in the long run
It may sound counter-intuitive since penetration testing can cost a considerable amount of money, but investing in penetration tests can save you money in the long run. The average cost of a penetration test ranges from 4,000 USD to 100,000 USD, depending on the range of services. However, you should also remember that preventive measures are always less expensive than remediation efforts and financial losses.
Penetration testing will identify areas where you’re most vulnerable and design an intricate system of defenses to counter possible attacks. Without penetration testing to guide you to the areas that you need to improve, you will most likely spend more money because of the broader scope you need to cover.
Furthermore, penetration testing offers protection from dangerously expensive cyber attacks that can lead to substantial financial setbacks. The process will require the expertise of an experienced team of specialists who will assess your system for weaknesses that potential attackers may use.
Sophisticated hacks and organized human attacks are becoming an increasingly serious problem in the realm of cybersecurity. It’s up to the leaders of organizations and businesses to make sure that their systems are protected against such threats. Startup owners are no exception. You should always be confident about your system’s defenses, and penetration testing helps make this possible.
A reliable and experienced team of penetration testers can improve your efforts to ensure better data protection and privacy for your customers and your brand.