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Penetration testing, colloquially referred to as a “pen test,” is an authorized attempt to gain access to a company’s resources without the knowledge of usernames, passwords and other usual mean of access.  Essentially, it’s paying someone to hack—or break into—your network. It allows you to understand how effective your privacy and security controls really are, before someone/something malicious breaks into your network and causes irreparable damage.
Penetration testing is designed to test your business’ prevention, detection and response capabilities.
Whether your organization is deploying a new service, meeting compliance mandates or assessing its network weaknesses, penetration testers use the latest tactics, techniques and procedures to emulate what attackers are doing in the real world.
First things first: you need to understand the benefits of penetration testing. Here are a few of the big ones:
Additionally, regulators or cybersecurity experts within your organization will want to understand certain things about your cybersecurity practices. Here are some of the questions pen testing can answer:
At eSentire, our pen-testers typically follow a five-step process. Here, we’ll give you a high-level outline of the methodology used to help you understand how penetration testing works.
Because the reporting piece is so critical, we’re going to dive into it a bit more. In your post-pen test report, you can expect an executive summary and a detailed technical report.
The executive summary is created for a high-level perspective. It is targeted towards a non-technical audience, so the language used is not overly complex. The summary consists primarily of a brief description of the results, as well as the findings and recommendations. It lists the scope, approach, findings, high-risk and systemic issues, and what is needed to remedy these issues and reduce the risk of a compromised network.
Like the name suggests, the technical report is targeted towards technical staff and provides detailed findings and recommendations. It details the methodology employed, the positive security aspects identified, the technical findings, a risk rating for each vulnerability exploited, remediation steps and more.
“If you’re performing Penetration Testing infrequently or have commissioned a large scope of work, keep in mind the requirements of the “post-test” phase. Often, the report will describe remediation measures that could take considerable time and money to implement. Avoid the temptation to just file away the reports that specify challenging or time-consuming remediation.” - Gartner
Like we mentioned earlier, penetration testing allows you to find the vulnerabilities in your network before someone else does. It’s an important part in understanding where you stand with your cybersecurity practices and how well-equipped you are to withstand future (inevitable) cyber threats and attacks.
eSentire certified security testers perform a myriad of penetration tests on a yearly basis across a variety of industries and organizations of all sizes. Whether an organization is deploying a new service, meeting compliance mandates or assessing network weaknesses, our testers use the latest tactics, techniques and procedures to emulate what attackers are doing in the real world.
Leveraging intelligence from our Managed Detection and Response (MDR) platform which identifies attacks that bypass traditional security controls, we are uniquely equipped to conduct testing that other vendors cannot. Once we achieve the goal, vulnerabilities are prioritized by risk and the eSentire Advisory Services team provides remediation consultation to reduce the potential window of exploitation and avoid regulatory fines.
Emily is a content specialist on the Marketing team at eSentire. Drawing on her background in journalism and social media, Emily communicates eSentire's mission with compelling and thought-provoking content.