Importance of penetration testing
Any business can be attacked by cybercriminals if given the opportunity. Each business can be prone to attacks through an opening naked to human eyes. Without any knowledge of every Organization’s loopholes, businesses could suffer significantly due to such an attack.
There lies the importance of penetration testing for businesses. But what is penetration testing? Let’s define it.
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing, or colloquially referred to as pen testing or ethical hacking, is a simulated cyber-attack where professional, ethical hackers break into corporate networks to find vulnerabilities before hackers with malicious intent do.
Penetration Testing is an essential part of security verification testing as it is a form of a security assessment that identifies vulnerabilities in an organization’s system, software application, or network. It helps assess an organization’s security posture to determine what needs to be done to prevent future attacks, and this comes in identifying potential loopholes that a cybercriminal might exploit.
Thus, with penetration testing, an organization will no longer worry about future attacks as current vulnerabilities can be patched upon discovery. Businesses can rest easy that no loopholes will be available for cybercriminals to exploit, and there will be no fine to pay as there will be no possibility of a data breach. This is why the importance of penetration testing should be highlighted.
Importance of penetration testing: Security testing for an Organization’s website
According to PDPC’s Guide on building websites for SMEs, testing an organization’s website for any vulnerabilities is essential to ensure its security. It should be conducted prior to its availability to the public, similar to releasing live web or mobile applications. Such testing should also be conducted periodically to ensure that no vulnerabilities are present upon the passage of time, and if there is, it can be patched before bad actors can notice it.
Furthermore, if these organizations outsourced their website development, their IT vendors should either be required to conduct security testing or arrange for a cybersecurity vendor, such as Privacy Ninja, to do so. To verify the security, organizations can also wish to consider using the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Testing Guide and the OWASP Application Security Verification Standard (ASVS) as a baseline.
Importance of penetration testing for an Organization’s ICT system
Aside from securing the Organization’s website from any vulnerabilities, it is also vital that penetration testing is conducted on their ICT systems. Moreover, in its conduct, the Guide to Data Protection by Design for ICT systems laid down good practices to follow so that unnecessary disclosure of personal data is avoided.
According to the Guide, it is also important to factor in adequate resources to conduct relevant security testing and ensure that the data protection measures operate as intended aside from ensuring that the application works as expected in terms of functionality. These good practices are listed below:
1. Avoid loading production data to test environments
While it can be tempting to use the production data to test environments out of convenience, it should be avoided. This is because test environments are much less secure than production environments. The personal data may be at risk of a breach if something went wrong out of the plan, and from what we have learned of the decision and undertaking of PDPC, even the slightest mistake that led to the disclosure of one personal data could result in a whopping fine.
Thus, in doing tests, Organization should opt to use synthetic data for test environments.
2. Check SQL joins
Always make sure that upon joining SQLs, there must not be a single error. This is because these errors in joining SQL could result in data from different data subjects to be meshed together and could result in data breaches.
3. Conduct code review
Code reviews should be conducted from time to time. At least sections of the source code identified to be of high impact should be reviewed by an experienced developer, especially if it will be done manually.
4. Conduct vulnerability assessment through penetration testing
Organizations must see to it that there will be no vulnerabilities in their systems that bad actors could exploit. This is where lies the importance of penetration testing. These organizations must conduct regular penetration testing to identify such vulnerabilities through their IT team or through hiring cybersecurity vendors, such as Privacy Ninja, to patch it up or provide a remedy
5. Conduct user acceptance testing (UAT)
Aside from verifying system functionality, in the verification of ease of use of the data protection measures and users’ understanding of data protection policy and practices, as presented by the system, UATs can be used.