Penetration testing may not be the hottest discussion among CEOs and decision-makers, but it is essential to a business’s defense strategy against cyberattacks. Penetration tests, or pen tests, are designed to simulate real-world attacks to identify weaknesses in a business’s security systems and networks.
As a result, it becomes easier to identify the areas that need improvement and design a better cybersecurity strategy. However, to be effective, penetration testing needs to be executed regularly, which is where penetration testing as a service (or PTaaS) comes in.
In today’s article, we will look at what PTaaS means and how it can help businesses improve their data security and reduce the risk of a leak.
What is PTaaS & How Does it Work?
The difference between regular pen tests and PTaaS stands in who performs these actions. With regular pen tests, the action is usually performed by company employees who are part of the IT department. However, not all companies can afford to hire people with this level of cybersecurity knowledge. In fact, small businesses barely have an IT department!
On the other hand, penetration testing as a service (PTaaS) is an outsourced IT security service. In this scenario, a team (or several) of cybersecurity experts offer highly-specialized services that help businesses of all sizes identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure.
This way, businesses, and organizations can access resources and knowledge from qualified security professionals. Moreover, through PTaaS, enterprises can track results over time and deploy security fixes whenever needed. The direct result of using such a service is a better security posture and a more secure IT environment without investing in highly specialized employees.
However, it is crucial to understand that PTaaS is a form of ethical hacking using automated tools and manual techniques. Moreover, there are several different types of pen tests, such as:
- Network testing
- Web application testing
- Social engineering
- Red teaming
All these and more are used to make sure the exercise covers all the possible attack scenarios and identifies any weaknesses in a network or system.
Among the penetration testing types described, Red teaming is the most advanced method since it considers the social, digital, and physical domains to devise real-life scenarios. Red teaming is not usually offered as part of the standard pen testing package (you may have to ask and pay for it separately), but it is highly effective.
You should also know that, during the testing period, there may be some disruption to business operations. This is normal because you’re hiring a team of specialists to probe your security. Therefore, plan and avoid significant projects or actions during the scheduled testing period.
It’s also essential to choose a well-vetted service provider that can ensure the highest quality of security.
The Pros & Cons of Pen Testing
According to a research report released by Positive Technology, cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of local company networks in about two days. And they do this using pen testing to identify the organization’s weak points.
Therefore, the obvious advantage of using pen testing as a defense tool is improved security. But there are other benefits to consider, such as:
- Recommendations on how to eliminate or reduce existing security risks
- Can uncover hidden malicious activity or malicious actors
- It tests the effectiveness of existing security measures
- It can help identify misconfigured systems
- Identifies potential weaknesses in authentication and authorization protocols
On the other hand, pen testing also comes with a few downsides, such as:
- It is costly and time-consuming
- There’s a chance it will be disruptive to normal business operations
- You may have to run multiple tests and simulations to find all potential weaknesses
- There’s a risk of false positive results
- Some people (employees and business owners) may see it as an invasion of privacy
Overall, penetration testing as a service is an excellent way for businesses to ensure their networks and systems are secure and free from weaknesses. However, you must also consider the downsides and ensure everyone is on board with using this method.
Plus, when choosing a PTaaS provider, it’s essential to take your time and find one that fits your business’s needs.