The sharp rise in sophisticated hacking techniques used by cybercriminals to infiltrate enterprise computer and network systems underscore the critical need for a robust defense. To accomplish this, we recommend testing your security tools.
It’s not surprising if you’ve spoken with multiple Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) about pen-testing. Its popularity makes it the obvious choice. But with vendor-funded assessments available, why pay top dollar?
In this blog, we talk about alternatives. Starting with the basics of penetration testing.
What is penetration testing?
This specialized and expertly managed process identifies latent vulnerabilities that hackers might exploit and provides recommendations for corrective action. It’s an elite service, all the rage, and well-represented at conferences like Black Hat.
For all the value it guarantees—an assiduous security defense, and compliance—it isn’t uncommon to receive an executive mandate for this investigative process.
The expenses, however, can quickly rise, depending on the scope, testing type, methodology, tester qualifications, target environment complexity, and timeframe. In that case, economical alternatives become more appealing, particularly for Small to Medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Why is penetration testing recommended?
The claimed value of pen-testing is in its efficient audits of your security controls. Its findings highlight the gaps—weak points in your IT infrastructure—security technology or configurations thereof and serve as a tactical guideline for strengthening your posture.
The test results reveal your organization’s ability to handle malicious activities, defend against cyber-attacks, and quickly contain a breach.
Why is penetration testing sometimes not recommended?
Pen-testing has numerous advantages, hence its high commendation. But like other security tactics, it isn’t perfect. To begin with, vendor offerings range in price and not all are made equal. Additional factors include:
- The risk of business disruption because of exposure to the consequences of a real hack.
- The requirement for expert resources—penetration testing services—to facilitate the evaluation process.
- While considered ethical hacking, using the same techniques as hackers still raises ethical questions.
Though not above reproach, its drawbacks do not mean you’re helpless. Vendor-funded assessments are a viable alternative (depending on what you need to test) if you have limited resources or are not ready for a big expenditure.
They’re a starting point that adds significant value to your commitment to progressive elaboration when it comes to defending your assets.
What are alternatives to penetration testing?
We are glad you asked!
First, a disclaimer. Purchasing pen-tests is a worthwhile investment. These options are not intended to replace pen-testing, but rather to provide countermeasures that, if implemented year-round, go the distance in improving your security capabilities.
Option 1: Threat modeling is a straightforward but thorough method of assessing potential threats. It does not test and score your network, but allows the uniqueness of your business, data, and environment to determine your cybersecurity priorities which could include a red or blue team.
For more information, see Threat Modeling: A Guide for Small to Midsize Enterprises.
Option 2: Why not try out your own regime? It may appear tedious, but online services like Eicar and VirusTotal can upload virus-like files to an endpoint to see what alarms are triggered, and if your existing security blocked the threat.
We discuss these, and other options to test your stack (with the tools you already have) in our eBook: Validating and Testing Maturity of Cybersecurity Programs.
What does ActZero offer?
Significant effort has gone into creating a high-quality assessment with outcomes comparable to pen-testing. Our assessment, like the pen-test, provides conclusive data on the health of your security controls, enabling you to enhance your defenses. Our work entails:
- Searching the dark web for compromised accounts.
- Scanning for attack intent, i.e., mentions of your company on the dark web.
- Running an initial simulation of ransomware against your current defenses using a third-party tool. Then a second one with ActZero defending the same endpoint. Compiling both scores and comparing them to identify variations.
- Examining your security controls for compliance.
- Providing a full report to management and team to communicate intelligence.
Threat modeling and DIY testing options like Eicar are both inexpensive and effective ways to strengthen your IT security. Even if you do not intend to purchase services, you gain substantial value by making the most of vendor-funded assessments.
Begin immediately! Schedule our free Ransomware Readiness Assessment to get an initial introductory assessment, followed by a full evaluation within four hours.