Penetration Tests and Why They Are Important to Network Security
Penetration testing is often referred to as a "pen test" and is a testing procedure that is performed to test the perimeters of a network for security breaches and vulnerabilities. Penetration testing is also known as ethical hacking because the test is performed by a team of security experts that have the organization's permission to hack the network in an attempt to identify vulnerabilities. If the vulnerabilities are discovered it helps the organization to defend itself against further attacks.
How Penetration Testing Works
Penetration testing works on the premise that hackers have more knowledge of network vulnerabilities than the organizations that run the networks, and they always stay one step ahead of network professionals. Therefore it is necessary for a team of network security experts to perform the tests using the same techniques that hackers would use to breach network security.
The penetration test involves two stages with the second stage being performed with the consent of the organization. The first stage involves locating the potential vulnerabilities in the network and then the second stage exploits the vulnerabilities. The reason the second stage requires approval from the organization is because it is technically an illegal operation to breach the security of a network.
Penetration Testing companies employ security professionals that are knowledgeable in the same methods that hackers use to breach the security of a network. The only difference is the professionals that are employed by the Penetration Testing company perform the test in a professional manner that does not jeopardize the data on the network or open up any other applications to risks.
Why Penetration Testing is Important
Penetration takes network security to the next level by actually exploring the network for vulnerabilities. Simply deploying a firewall, vulnerability scanner, and an antivirus program are not enough to protect the system against an attack.
Regardless of how many security systems you use, there is still a good chance of weaknesses that exist within the network. Without a comprehensive test, sensitive data is prone to disclosure and some organizations can face legalities if they do not comply with network security guidelines for data protection.
Penetration Test Results
When the penetration test is complete, the security experts prepare a report for the organization that includes potential vulnerabilities in the network system. Basically the report provides a way to evaluate the network system from an outside criminal's point of view so that the necessary steps can be taken to repair the vulnerabilities and provide optimum network security.