7 Steps Involved in Effective Pen Testing

Do you rely on a data base? Then cybersecurity should be a primary concern and starting with effective pen testing is your way of closing security gaps, learn more.

7 Steps Involved in Effective Pen Testing

Most businesses agree that penetration testing should be an integral part of your cybersecurity strategy but still very few businesses do it correctly. Due to this, their cybersecurity systems are left with unpatched vulnerabilities and has openings which can easily be exploited by hackers.

A pen test involves a third party in the process where it tests the strength of your cybersecurity systems. This will help you identify cybersecurity threats, prevent data breaches and reduces downtime. As a result, you can plug in all these holes and iron out all the vulnerabilities to make your cybersecurity systems hacker-proof.

In this article, you will learn about seven steps involved in pen testing so you can do it the right way.

1. Set Clear Goals

Before inviting a third-party vendor for penetration testing, you must ask and answer the following questions. Why are you performing the pen test? What do you want them to test? Whether you perform pen test to fulfill the requirements of regulators or auditors or you want to unearth the reason behind a cybersecurity attack that targeted your business, the purpose of the exercise should be crystal clear from the outset. Yes, you might be lured to ask them to test everything, but it will kill the purpose of the penetration testing exercises because these drills work best when they are highly targeted.

2. Stay in Touch with References

When you are asking a third-party company to come over and target your network, databases and best dedicated servers, you want to make sure that they follow the business ethics. Unfortunately, you cannot evaluate this by reading testimonials written by unknown people. For this, you will have to get in touch with companies that has already experienced a pen test from the same vendor you are planning to hire for pen testing.

Knowing how they fulfilled business requirements, interacted with customers and how much they knew about your current infrastructure is critical to choosing the best pen test company. Inquire about how they compile results and how did the findings helped customers improve their security. It is quite unfortunate to see many companies avoiding getting in touch with references. When choosing a penetration tester, ask open ended questions. This will help you know more.

3. Acquire Liability Insurance

There are instances when pen test can lead to unexpected damages and if you don’t have a liability insurance, you can land in hot water. These damages can occur through two different ways. It could be caused by your own cyber insurance or it can occur due to professional liability insurance done by pen testers. To get compensation for damages, you must present the details of the test to liability insurance provider. Make sure to get a written document which confirm the activities which are covered under your insurance policy.

4. Focus on the Details

After agreeing upon the pen testing perimeters, it is important to know how your pen testing group will put all these perimeters into practice. Although, there is nothing wrong if the analyst and engineers are kept in the dark but those are paying the pen testing group and will use those findings should be crystal clear what will happen.

Focusing on details is important so that the management are well prepared for the warnings they might receive from defense team. Additionally, it also tells you whether your pen testing team consider your requirements or not. That is not all, keeping an eye on these details will help you identify malicious activities which falls way outside the perimeters you have initially set for pen testing.

5. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

Seeing a cyber-security attack targeting your business in real time is completely different from getting the final report from your pen testers. Monitoring each activity taking place during pen testing is critical as it gives you a clear picture about the strengths and weaknesses of your cybersecurity systems. If monitoring everything seems like a daunting challenge, you should collaborate with pen testing group to decide what you should and should not monitor. This will help you build a solid foundation for post testing analysis and reporting.

6. Post Test Planning

If you want to get the best results out of your pen testing efforts, you should know how the findings are presented to each stakeholder. Additionally, you should also be aware of what type of data is required for different purposes. All this should be decided before the pen test begins. Post test planning should only include how you present the results to your IT team and cover aspects that needs to be changed immediately after the change.

Before planning for presentation, it is important to have a detailed discussion on the findings. Create a separate plan for presenting the findings in front of auditor, regulators and insurers. Choose a language for your report based on your target audience. Make follow up an integral part of post pen test planning and you will feel the difference.

7. Prepare for The Presentation

Last but certainly not the least is to prepare for the big presentation that you will have to deliver in front of board members or C-Suite executives. Prepare yourself for the presentation so you don’t find yourself struggling to present your material. Put yourself in the shoes of board members and think about what questions you might ask if you are in their place.

Speak in business terms as these C-suite executive value hard numbers such as ROI. This means that you will have to be less technical and more business centric when presenting your pen testing findings in front of board members. Try to keep your presentation short and to the point and make it easy for board members to understand the key findings. Avoid delivering long presentations as they don’t have time to listen to you and will lose interest as soon it stretches beyond a certain time limit.

How do you do pen testing? Share your process with us in the comments section below.