I think it appropriate that the first post on our blog be something to educate on what it is that we do, as well as the importance of it all. So, let's dive into this shall we?
What is a Pentest?
No, it is not testing whether your pen has ink. Penetration Testing, also known as pentesting, can best be described as the practice of simulating a cyber attack on your organization's networks, systems and data, with the goal of identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses so that you can fix them before a bad hacker can come along and take advantage of them.
Think about it this way. Imagine that a pentest is like a locksmith testing the locks on your home. That locksmith is going to attempt many methods of getting past the locks to see if there are any weaknesses, and if they do, they'll report it to you so you can make your house more secure. A pentest is very similar, except instead of testing the locks of your homes, it tests your digital, and sometimes physical, infrastructure, looking any weaknesses your organization may have.
Why Do They Matter
Now, I know you probably read the above and ask the question: "Why does it matter to me or my organization?" And that's a fair question to ask. As business owners, we have to question everything from a variety of angles, including from a expenditure perspective, and we have to rationalize the importance of it.
Let me address this from a few different angles:
You can't protect what you don't know. What do I mean by that? If you don't know your risk, you can't effectively protect yourself against the countless threats of today's digital world, and the only way you go about that is through the identifying of your weaknesses and vulnerability, and that is where a pentest comes into play.
Through pentesting, you can identify all the areas where your organization is vulnerable to hackers, which empowers you with the knowledge necessary to fix those weak points and elevate the security of your organization.
The financial importance can be broken up into 2 different areas. Firstly, let's talk about the trap that most organizations fall into.
Too often companies want to just throw money at different products or services that they hope protects them. Not only is this wasteful from a expenditure standpoint, but you probably aren't completely protected by the products and services you've purchased.
This goes back to my points about identifying your problems. If you don't identify your problems, you will continue to waste money on 'all-in-one' products and services that leave you exposed, but when you identify your pains points, you can prioritize your spending on the areas where you need it most. You can be strategic in how you use your IT/Cybersecurity budget. This allows you save money by only spending money on the things that solve your problems.
The second part of this is the money you save from avoiding a large scale breach. The average cost of a breach in the U.S. is $9.44M. When you identify your weaknesses, strategically spend on the right solutions, and solve those problems, you avoid all the money that you would have to put towards repairs, fines, legal fees, etc.
At the end of the day, we as business owners are solely focused on serving our clients and making money. That's our goal every day, and any way that we can gain an advantage in those goals, we explore it and use it.
Pentests give you a big competitive advantage in those goals. How? 2 Words: 'Customer Trust.'
When a customer has invested trust in you, you can serve them better, and you make more money. They trust you. Your expertise. Your business decisions that affect them. All of it. But the second you suffer a breach, that trust is destroyed. Fair or not, that's what happens.
A great example is a company called LastPass. They very recently suffered a breach, and have suffered greatly in customer trust, which in turn lost them many customers.
What if I told you that Pentests help increase the trust your customers have in you. When you can go to your clients and potential clients with not just your best in class service, but proof that you are capable of being trusted with their personal data, that puts you leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Do you know what compliance standards that you must abide by, if any?
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
SOC 2 (Service Organization Control 2)
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Cybersecurity Framework
ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System)
Having pentests done help you meet compliancy requirements that your organization must abide by. You can get fined for not abiding by compliancy requirements, so this is a huge one that also saves you from losing money to fines.
To wrap up this blog post, I want to reiterate that pentests really do help you as a business owner. I think that as owners, we want to see a Return on Investment when we make a purchase. We want to see the value.
When it comes to pentests, we see the ROI from the increased customer trust and the competitive advantage we gain from it. We see the value in the cost-savings we see from gaining the ability to be strategic with our spending and from avoiding the massive financial losses that come from a data breach.
I hope all of this was informative and I look forward to proving more helpful content for you and your business!