When your organization makes use of automated penetration testing, you can run a greater number and variety of tests, maximizing the security insights they generate. This will also help you optimize your pen test standards to regulatory contexts for greater efficiency.
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Benefits of Automated Penetration Testing
Penetration testing is essential to cyberdefense. Simulating attacks on your systems allows you to see in real-time how a cybercriminal would compromise your data. The threat intelligence generated can then empower you to prevent and mitigate risks, minimizing real-world harm.
Automated penetration testing takes this further, allowing you to:
- Conduct pen tests with greater frequency
- Experiment with different kinds of pen tests
- Tailor pen tests to your regulatory needs
Automation maximizes the good that pen tests can do for you. Consider working with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) to get the most out of pen testing with automation.
Conduct Pen Tests More Frequently
First and foremost, automated pen testing allows you to run tests more swiftly, with fewer resources dedicated to each individual assessment. In practice, that means you can run pen tests much more frequently and generate a greater degree of threat intelligence.
The process of penetration testing is complex. Automated or conventional, it comprises:
- Planning, including negotiating the scope and specific focal points of tests
- Reconnaissance, or intelligence gathering on vulnerabilities to be exploited
- Exploiting vulnerabilities and attempting to seize control of your systems
- Reporting on findings, re-testing, and remediating identified weaknesses
All told, testing can take multiple weeks to complete. In conventional testing, internal resources will have significantly less bandwidth for the entire duration. But with automated penetration testing, the resource costs will be much lower. This allows for more tests to be run, even simultaneously. Greater volume allows for more insights and deeper threat intelligence.
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Run a Greater Variety of Pen Tests
With the power to run more penetration tests overall comes the ability to run many different kinds of pen tests. In general, most penetration testing falls into one of two categories:
- External – These tests simulate an attack originating outside your organization by attackers with little to no prior knowledge of or access to your systems. They focus on perimeter defenses and your organization’s ability to prevent unauthorized entry.
- Internal – These tests simulate attacks from within your organization by parties with some prior knowledge or access to your systems (i.e., disgruntled employees). They focus on mobility and ease of access to critical resources once an attacker is “inside.”
There are also hybrid tests that incorporate elements of both. For example, tests might begin focusing on points of entry, then shift to internal vulnerabilities once the exterior is breached.
All tests have unique uses; conducting a wide variety builds a breadth of threat intelligence.
Another benefit of automated pen testing is that it allows you to cater tests to specific parts of your IT environment. For example, you could run pen tests on specific Internet of Things (IOT) devices or networks used for them. IOT penetration testing provides insights into specific risk factors cybercriminals could target, like connections between older or employee-owned devices.
By the same logic, a greater frequency and variety of penetration tests through automation will allow you to optimize your testing for the requirements of specific regulatory frameworks.
Optimize Pen Testing for Compliance
Finally, automated penetration testing facilitates boutique tests for compliance purposes. If your organization handles sensitive data protected by governmental or other regulations, you can run penetration tests to gauge your protection of that data—and adherence to mandatory standards.
For example, if your organization works in or alongside the healthcare industry, you’ll need to safeguard protected health information (PHI) per the rules set out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While HIPAA compliance itself does not necessitate penetration testing, automated tests are an effective way to meet Security Rule requirements.
In other contexts, you explicitly need to perform penetration testing to achieve or maintain compliance.
For example, compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) explicitly requires multiple kinds of penetration tests, conducted at regular intervals:
- Internal penetration testing, once every 12 months (per Requirement 11.4.2)
- External penetration testing, once every 12 months (per Requirement 11.4.3)
- Segmentation testing, every six or 12 months (per Requirements 11.4.5 and 11.4.6)
These requirements are far-reaching, as most organizations that process credit card payments or cardholder data (CHD) need to comply. Automated penetration testing will make it easier to meet these and other requirements, across any compliance framework that applies to you.
Rethink Your Penetration Testing Security
RSI Security is a full-service penetration testing partner. As an MSSP, we are committed to your organization’s cyberdefenses and helping you understand and correct weaknesses in them. We know that the right way is the only way when it comes to securing your sensitive data from cyberattacks. With pen testing, offense begets defense—and discipline creates freedom.
To learn more about our automated penetration testing services, contact RSI Security today!