6 Reasons to Perform a Penetration Test | Vumetric

6 Reasons Why You Should Conduct a Penetration Test

Why Perform a Penetration Test
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Table of Contents

In many industries, maintaining compliance — such as the PCI standard for card processing — includes annual penetration testing. It can be difficult, however, for many companies to see the importance of penetration testing in their cybersecurity management strategy.

Here are 10 key reasons to do a penetration test:

1. Uncover & fix your security vulnerabilities

Do you know what the latest exploits used by hackers are? Do you know what vulnerabilities exist in your network that hackers could take advantage of? Are you rigorous in patching your systems and devices? Are you maintaining the latest cybersecurity standards, or are your security measures neglected?

Many hackers stay on the cutting edge of technology, and they have a solid understanding of the vulnerabilities found in each technology. Fortunately, so do penetration testers. As they test your system, pen testers will uncover vulnerabilities, whether that means identifying outdated systems with a vulnerability that could allow a full takeover of your network, or bypassing security mechanisms to access administrative features in your application. This will allow your team to gain the perspective of a hacker and find out what would happen, should they be targeted and will provide technical solutions so they can replicate and fix their vulnerabilities.

2. Protect your business from cyberattacks

According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, 88% of organizations are concerned by the prospect of cyberattacks. Even large companies with a well-established security team and responsibilities are at a risk of a cyberattack, as there are countless ways that an attacker can target organizations. Whether it’s through your public network, such as the network used by your public website, or your applications, they continuously scan the internet in search for vulnerable systems and applications they can exploit. A penetration test will allow you to determine the vulnerabilities that hackers are most likely to exploit and what could be its potential impact, allowing you to prevent cyberattacks by implementing measures that makes their exploitation impossible.

3. Comply with various standards

Depending on your industry, there are many standards you might be forced to comply with, whether it’s for legal reasons or to finalize business partnerships. For example, if you process customer payments through a credit or debit card system, you must be PCI compliant, which requires an annual penetration test. If you work in a SaaS, your clients or providers might require a penetration test of your Startup. Not only does the testing identify potential vulnerabilities, ensuring that you are protecting your customers and assets, but it also allows you to remain compliant. Maintaining compliance means that you will avoid costly fines and fees so you can continue to do business as usual, or allow you to develop new partnerships to grow your business.

4. Keep management informed

In many organizations, management fails to fully comprehend the risk that cybersecurity vulnerabilities really represent for their company. Even if your IT team understands the risks and vulnerabilities, they may lack the experience or knowledge to communicate them effectively to upper-level management–or management may fail to take that information into account. Because of this, they might not allocate the necessary resources to implement corrective measures or to make the changes to secure your vulnerable systems and applications.

When you perform a Pentest, on the other hand, you’re working with professionals whose job it is to better understand cybersecurity risks and their impact on your business. When you receive your report at the end of the test, you’ll get a detailed document that explains each vulnerability and what would be the consequences if they are exploited. It will also provide an executive summary, explaining your risks in a clear and concise language adapted to non-technical stakeholders.  As a result, management will be better equipped to understand the importance of cybersecurity in your organization.

5. Prioritize fixes

Vulnerabilities are inevitable and it is nearly impossible to mitigate all of them, even for large organizations with hundreds of employees. Without a penetration test, it can be quite a daunting task to determine which vulnerability needs to be addressed first. With the help of professional frameworks recognized by the industry, such as the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), a Pentest will not only identify every potential angle of attack hackers could take, but also categorize them based on two criterias: How easy it is to exploit them (which increases the number of potential attackers) and the potential impact on the confidentiality/integrity of the systems and data. A typical report will break vulnerabilities down into 4 risk levels: Critical (Requiring immediate attention), High (Should be addressed as soon as possible), Moderate (Address when possible, but do not ignore) and Low (Consider when making changes). This will allow your team to focus their time and resources on the risks that could have significant consequences on your company and provide insight on what to account for when making changes.

6. Prevent financial losses

Depending on the size of your infrastructure and applications, penetrating testing can sound like an expensive investment. Cyberattacks, on the other hand, can generate losses that are far more important than the cost of a pentest. According to a study by IBM, the cost of lost business following a cyberattack average at $1.42 million per incident. This excludes the resources spent to recover from a cyberattack, which averaged at $13 million in 2018. In some cases, attacks can be so devastating that they can wipe out your entire organization and force it to shut down permanently. Woodranch medical, for example, was forced to close its doors following a ransomware that encrypted and deleted all of its patient data.

 

Cybersecurity has become essential for many businesses in today’s ever-growing digital society. With the help of penetration testing, you will be able to identify how you are vulnerable to attacks, keep your stakeholders in the loop so you can allocate your resources adequately and prevent losses.

A penetration test is a simulated hacking attempt that identifies opportunities for real hackers to break through your defences and perform various malicious acts. It generally leverages tools used by hackers and various professional methodologies to replicate the steps that modern hackers would take to intrude into your IT systems.


A pentest attempts to exploit your vulnerabilities to determine their potential impact, should they be used in a real hacking scenario. They provide a list of vulnerabilities with their respective level of severity, as well as technical recommendations to help your team apply corrective measures and focus on the most critical vulnerabilities.


These services allow your organization to answer the following questions, among several others:

  • Can a hacker gain access to any sensitive information?
  • Can a hacker hijack my technologies for any malicious acts?
  • Could a malware infection spread through the network?
  • Can an attacker escalate access to an administrative user?

Learn more about penetration testing →

There are many contexts in which a penetration test should be performed.

Here are some common use cases for a pentest:
  • As part of the development cycle of an application. (To test the security of a new feature/app)
  • To comply with security requirements. (3rd-parties, PCI, ISO27001, etc.)
  • To secure sensitive data from exfiltration.
  • To prevent infections by malware. (Ransomware, spyware, etc.)
  • To prevent disruptive cyberattacks. (Such as denial of service)
  • As part of a cybersecurity risk management strategy.
All businesses are advised to conduct a penetration test at least once a year, as well as after any significant upgrades or modifications to the company network. Given the rapid rate at which new exploits are discovered, we generally recommend that quarterly tests are performed.

The time required to successfully execute a penetration test depends on the scope and type of test. Most penetration tests can be performed within a couple of days, but some can span over several weeks, sometimes even months depending on the complexity of the project.

Various steps are taken over the course of the project to prevent the potential impact of our tests on the stability of your technological environment and the continuity of your business operations.

For this reason, a communication plan will be put in place at the beginning of the project to prevent and mitigate any potential impact. A representative of your organization will be identified to act as the main point of contact to ensure rapid communication in the event of a situation directly impacting the conduct of your daily operations, or if any critical vulnerabilities are identified, for which  corrective measures need to be implemented quickly.

While we use a simple 4 levels risk rating approach (Critical, High, Moderate, Low), our risk assessment is actually based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) standard. Two main criteria are considered when  assessing the risk level of each vulnerability:

  • Potential impact: The potential impact of an attack based on a vulnerability, combined with its  potential effect on the availability of the system, as well as the confidentiality and integrity of  the data.
  • Exploitability: The potential exploitability of a vulnerability; a vulnerability that is easier to  exploit increases the number of potential attackers and thus the likelihood of an attack.  Different factors are considered when evaluating the exploitability potential of a vulnerability  (e.g.: access vector, authentication, operational complexity, etc.)

Need a Penetration Test?

Recent Vumetric Blog Posts

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration testing is an authorized simulation of a cyberattack on a company’s technologies. You may have also heard it referred to as Pentesting, Ethical Hacking, or Security Testing. The...

Internal vs External Penetration Testing

Cybersecurity is a critical component of any organization’s operations and often dictates a company’s reliability in today’s digital business world. Get it right and you secure exemplary industry reputation...

Main Security Testing Roadblocks for Startups

As a decision-maker in a SaaS startup, you might often find that your application security strategy is not getting the attention it deserves. There can be several pertinent reasons...

Assess Your Cybersecurity Risks

A specialist will reach out in order to:

Mailbox Icon
stay informed!
Subscribe to stay on top of the latest trends, threats, news and statistics in the cybersecurity industry.