A network is a collection of computers, network devices, and servers that share data among themselves. These data are often sensitive and prone to malicious attacks from hackers. It is recommended to perform a network penetration test regularly. But what is a network penetration test?
In simple terms, network penetration testing is a security assessment used by cybersecurity companies to identify the susceptibility or vulnerability of a network. The vital data about network security is gleaned from testing that mimics the actual methods and tactics.
If you are just learning about network penetration tests, you might also wonder how it’s done and its benefits. The most crucial reason penetration testing is essential to a company’s security is that it helps keep and store data safely to prevent unauthorized third-party access. An ethical hacker or a cyber-security specialist usually carries out the network penetration test without causing harm to the organization.
This article will elaborate more on how security analysts perform a network penetration test and some of its benefits.
- How Do Cybersecurity Specialists Carry Out a Network Penetration Test?
- What Are the Benefits of a Network Penetration Testing?
How Do Cybersecurity Specialists Carry Out a Network Penetration Test?
The working principle of network penetration testing is that it simulates a real-life attack on the network. As such, it provides critical information about the potential weakness of the network that hackers could exploit. Hence, security specialists or ethical hackers use different methods to compromise the network while performing a network penetration test. A typical network penetration test includes the following steps.
Step #1: Planning
The planning phase of a network penetration phase is all about the overall aim and scope of the test. The specialists will define the most suitable methods for the testing and the metrics that would be used to determine its success. So, after a basic overview is decided, the security specialist starts by surveying and marking out the several components of the network.
Step #2: Testing
Testing is the next phase in a network penetration test. This phase is when the security specialist uses a dynamic or static testing solution to study and understand how the network responds to simulated attacks.
Step #3: Accessing Networks
After the testing phase is completed to understand the behavior of the network, the specialist performs a variety of attacks on the network, including SQL injection, web application attacks, etc. With these attacks, the specialists can identify the network’s vulnerabilities.
The security specialist then exploits the network’s vulnerabilities by attempting to intercept traffic, escalate privileges, steal data, etc. The whole idea of this phase is to determine how much damage can be caused by the network’s vulnerability.
After successfully gaining access to the network, security specialists’ key metric is seeing how long they can maintain access within the system. Suppose access can be maintained for a long period; in that case, it can lead to wreaks and havoc, collecting valuable and sensitive data, which means the security specialists need to add more layers of defense to the network.
Step #4: Analysis
The final phase of a network penetration test is analyzing the results and creating a report. The report shows an actionable insight into the exploitability, vulnerabilities, and areas the business needs to take necessary remediation action before a real hacker has an opportunity to exploit it.
What Are the Benefits of a Network Penetration Testing?
The benefits of carrying out this test on your network are numerous. More specifically, a network penetration test provides the following benefits.
Benefit #1: Comply With Industry Regulations and Standard
A network penetration test benefits any network as it ensures it complies with industry-standard and obligations. Industry-standard agencies such as ISO 27001, FISMA, HIPAA, and PCI all mandate that networks handling public information offer a certain degree of security. Hence, regularly performing these tests helps demonstrate due diligence and thus helps avoid heavy fines associated with non-compliance.
Benefit #2: Avoid Costly Data Breaches
Another important benefit of network penetration testing is that it helps prevent costly data breaches and potential loss of business operations. Recovering from a data breach is no doubt expensive. For example, IT remediation, legal fees, loss in sales, customer retention program, and so on increase the recovery cost after a data breach. For this reason, scheduling regular network penetration tests is a proactive way by which organizations can stay on top of their security and prevent financial loss due to network breaches.
Benefit #3: Mature Your Environment
The upward growth in an organization’s security posture is a great way to have a great competitive edge over other organizations in the same industry. Organizations with great network security demonstrate to their clients that they take information security seriously and are continuously dedicated to providing optimal security.
Benefit #4: Identify and Prioritize Risks
Most importantly, a network penetration test helps organizations evaluate potential risks where a network breach could occur. Identifying these breaks, be it through web applications, or internal and external networks, is crucial in securing the network. Performing this test also helps to understand the organization’s level of security and necessary improvements or areas that need to be prioritized.
Benefit #5: Prevents Infiltration
A network penetration test simulates a real-life hack by real-life hackers. Hence, regularly performing a network penetration test helps you increase security from every possible angle that hackers might likely infiltrate the network and prevent it by upgrading or changing certain security protocols.
A typical network penetration test provides a detailed report of an executive summary, risk analysis, impact analysis, and remediation recommendations.
If you have not gotten a network penetration test done on your network, you should get one. The first step is to get in touch with a certified security specialist and discuss what type of network penetration test is right for your organization’s network. The more frequently you perform a network penetration test, the more assured you are that your network is secure from any potential hacks or unauthorized access.