As a startup business owner, you sometimes get too focused on getting your company off the ground that you don’t pay much attention to other details that could impact your future like cybersecurity. You think that the simple security measures put up by your lone IT staff member would be enough.
You’re mistaken if you think that criminals target only large corporations. In fact, hackers prefer startups because the lack of established security practices and infrastructure make them easy targets. So, even with a security system in place, your data could still be vulnerable to breaches.
The importance of penetration testing
To determine how vulnerable your company is to a security breach, you need to have a penetration test conducted by a provider like Alpine Security. A penetration test is a process whereby an online hack is purposely created to identify and assess the vulnerabilities of your company’s computer systems.
A lot of people think it is similar to a vulnerability scan or a compliance audit, but a penetration test is a more in-depth procedure in the sense that:
- More than attempting to expose weaknesses, it also involves exploiting these gaps so that you will know the extent of the damage that a real-world hacker can do to your company’s assets, data, personnel, and business as a whole.
- While security assessments and vulnerability scans rely heavily on automated tools, penetration testing emphasizes the capabilities of the person or team doing the tests. It takes a lot of skill and experience to think like a hacker and counter his attacks.
- The test seeks to determine how effective your security controls are against a skilled hacker who attempts to steal your data. This cannot be answered with a compliance audit that only checks the existence of controls and their proper configuration.
No doubt, a penetration test is complicated and may require substantial funding. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why your business, even in its infancy, should consider investing in one. Here are some of them:
- Provides an efficient way to find if your security policies and the technology you’re using are working as they should.
- Reveals new areas of vulnerability that you didn’t consider before. With this discovery, you can then make adjustments or additions to your security measures.
- Gives valuable insight on how to halt an attack while it is happening and how an attacker can be effectively removed. The measures employed by most security systems aim to prevent hackers from accessing a network. Penetration tests go a step further by stopping the damage in its tracks.
- Identifies weak security spots that a vulnerability scanning software is likely to miss.
- Alerts you of the possible impacts on your business operations in the event of a successful attack. You can then incorporate these risks in your security plan.
- Allows you to gauge the capabilities of your employees to respond to an attack. The results of the assessment can help pinpoint what kind of security training is needed.
- Allows your company to go through the experience of a data breach without the damaging consequences. Such experience, though simulated, can contribute much to strengthening your security measures and your capability to deal with future attacks.
- If your business has been a target of an attack by a hacker, a penetration test still proves useful. It identifies which areas in your system were utilized to gain access via a recreation of the attack. Having this information on hand can assist you in implementing new security controls for better data protection.
Selecting your test provider
You are entrusting your business system to another, so make sure that you’re hiring the right persons to do the penetration test. In choosing, you should take the following into account:
- Skills and experience. Penetration testing is a complicated process, and the team you employ must have the capability to do it.
- Scope. Testing is not cheap; thus, you have to prioritize which areas in your system the process will yield the most value. You have to find out which data is at risk and where they reside and focus the tests on these areas.
- Method. Cyber threats can come from within your organization or from outside, and testing procedures for these vary. Check what kind of tests a provider does. Some specialize in internal tests and others in external types, whereas there are those who conduct both.
The data that you use in running your business must be secured at all costs. A single data breach can potentially ruin your company’s reputation and result in loss of customer trust.
It’s unthinkable how one person’s malicious deed can destroy something which took years for you to build. The dangers of hacking are real, and even as a startup, you need to stay proactive with a penetration test.