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Benefits and Risks of Penetration Testing

Companies use penetration testing techniques to identify loopholes and block hackers from conducting malicious acts. This helps identify any shortcomings in the cybersecurity protocols and offers a real-time analysis. 

Advantages like these have convinced more and more businesses to regularly assess their security by inviting white-hat hackers to test their systems.

But irrespective of the type of penetration test, there are still some disadvantages. So, what are some risks and benefits of performing a penetration test? Let’s find out!

Pros

The cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5 trillion per annum by 2025. This makes it imperative to invest in preventive measures. Nowadays, there are many penetration testing tools that make the process comparatively less time-consuming.

Professional white-hat hackers mimic attacks to enter your system and gain insights about any vulnerabilities. Once they know the loopholes, you can block the entry points before an incident. 

Here are the top three advantages of penetration testing to take the first step towards safeguarding your data. 

Expose Threats

The foremost benefit of penetration testing is its aim to identify vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure. Malicious actors spot these susceptibilities and plan an attack accordingly. Did you know that every 39 seconds, a new cybercrime takes place? Imagine if someone steals, deletes, or modifies the client information on your system!

This is why more and more companies have started to focus on penetration testing and ethical hacking. One of the best benefits of security testing is that your brand reputation is maintained.  

A penetration tester puts themselves in the place of a black-hat hacker with minimal or no prior details about credentials, coding, and software. This allows them to know all the loopholes that should be rectified.

Identify Cumulative Vulnerabilities

Another benefit of a penetration test is discovering emergent weaknesses. Sometimes, when you neglect small issues, they accumulate, and the outcome for your system can be dire. 

These cumulative vulnerabilities are hard to detect otherwise. The more weaknesses are identified, the stronger your security system will be. This allows you to block all possible entry points.

White-hat hackers might be able to find various issues in different stages of penetration testing, so giving them space is crucial. You can enjoy the advantages of penetration testing only when you’re fully aware of all the possible issues in your network and applications.

Provide Actionable Improvement Steps

Do you know what the additional benefits of penetration testing are? Once the test is complete, the tester typically submits a report containing detailed information about the process and the list of security measures to implement in future.  

In other words, you’re not only getting the disease diagnosed but also taking medicine to treat it. The penetration tester may suggest you overhaul the password policy or use a multi-factor authentication protocol (MFAs) for additional security in the sign-in process.

One of the common remedial recommendations is to perform third-party security audits. It ensures no one can exploit or alter any kind of information. Aren’t these some great benefits of a penetration test?

Cons

We’ve discussed what the benefits of penetration testing are, but it bears some risks as well. As you’ll depend on an expert, there’s a possibility that they might use their skills and expertise to harm and exploit your data. So, here are the three common risks of penetration testing.

Inflict Infrastructure Damage (If Not Done Right)

The biggest risk of penetration testing is it can disrupt the system if done incorrectly. At times, the penetration tester ends up applying the wrong approach, and such mistakes can be costly. Your system can crash, and you may even lose some important files and software.

Simulating an attack isn’t an easy job, so there’s a possibility that things can backfire. To avoid this, only use the services of a credible company or individual. It’s best to stick to the same experts as you can’t take a chance with your company’s cybersecurity.

Putting Trust into the Testers’ Hands

Another downside is that you have to trust the penetration tester. You actually invite and pay them to hack your system, which is risky if not done with the right intentions. 

This is another reason why you should stick to the same company or individual to get the penetration test done every single time.

You never know if a new person is capable enough to handle the situations arising during simulation. Moreover, they can be black-hat hackers pretending to be white-hat. It’s best if you also understand the basics of how to do a penetration test step by step so that they can’t deceive you.

Provide Realistic Test Conditions for Best Results

To cherish the benefits of penetration testing to the fullest, you have to give the tester liberty to work under realistic test conditions. The company can get false alarms if the test conditions aren’t natural.

Final Thoughts

The goal of a penetration test is to assess your technology assets to enhance your cybersecurity. Knowing your system’s vulnerabilities gives you the chance to rectify them before an attack to safeguard your data, customers, and brand reputation.

At times, hackers steal the passwords of your users, which can cause trust issues between you and your customers. So, do you really want to take the risk of not performing a penetration test? No, right?

The list of benefits of penetration testing is long, although there are some associated risks. You have to trust the tester with your system’s safety–who knows if they’re truly capable of maintaining your systems intact.

Rather stick with a reputable, credible, and trustworthy penetration tester.

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