Data breaches and major hacks seem to be on the news on a weekly basis. We’re talking about major companies, not your run-of-the-mill mom and pop store. The target was the victim of a massive hack that saw credit details of up to 40 million customers released. eBay did one “better” in May 2014, by allowing hackers to obtain the personal information of over 145 million users.
The list of corporations that have fallen victim is as surprising as it is worrying: Equifax, Yahoo, Uber, JP Morgan Chase, and it doesn’t stop there. Estimates have shown that 60 percent of small businesses get hacked each and every year; whether you’re small fry or a Fortune 500 Company, hackers don’t care. And that’s why your small business needs penetration testing.
What is penetration testing?
Penetration testing is the process of attempting to hack into a system or server to expose security weaknesses with the aim of fixing them and preventing future attacks. It’s also known as ethical hacking or pen-testing. Generally speaking, these hacks are authorized simulations and part of an organization’s wider security efforts.
The idea is simple: try every single nefarious hacking method to determine whether it would be possible to breach customer data. When a vulnerability is exposed, developers will fix the issue. Rinse and repeat until you’ve created a virtual Fort Knox. Once Pro tip: hire a reformed hacker and you’ll likely get even better results.
3 reasons why it’s essential for your business
The idea of a hacker in popular culture is of some misunderstood computer genius sitting in his garage (or his mom’s basement) wreaking havoc to make a point to society. It’s not quite accurate. In fact, the so-called “script kiddie” is just as a dangerous. All someone needs to do to launch a vicious hacking attack is to download or copy a script and presto, you’ve got yourself a diplomatic crisis.
Worried and ready to run to your IT officer? Here are 3 reasons why penetration testing is a good idea.
It tests your security team
Responding to a hack isn’t about having your own tech wizard on your team to battle the dark forces of black hatters. In the real world, preparation and having a script to follow is usually what makes the difference.
Penetration testing will give you vital information on how your team would react to a breach. Do they run around like the office is on fire or do they follow a clear and logical protocol to log the breach, investigate its causes, and taking the necessary immediate steps to prevent further damage?
It saves money
Yes, penetration testing isn’t cheap. But an actual data breach is far more expensive. More than 50% of small businesses fail within a year following a major hacking attack. For major corporations, the inevitable fall of share prices can have catastrophic consequences.
Most hackers will follow the most common vulnerabilities, which means that even the most simple form of penetration testing will expose what your system needs to thwart the majority of attacks.
Follow the rules
Penetrations testing isn’t always optional. For example, the recent GDPR regulations (General Data Protection Regulation – also known as ‘those annoying privacy pop-ups every website has these days’) were built to protect individual customer details and to hold businesses responsible. Blaming hackers is no longer an option. The law sees your business as the warden of your customers’ data.
Don’t join the small and medium-sized businesses currently found on the scrap heap due to ignoring penetration testing. It should be seen as an integral part of building your online presence, just as important as your domain name, email, and website. Avoid a painful wake-up call from your IT department and invest in some preventative measures; trust us, you’ll sleep a lot easier!