Even if we aren’t always aware of it, cybersecurity plays an important role in our lives. Almost every little detail about ourselves is out there (hopefully safe) in this digital world we have adopted as our second home.
When it comes to businesses, the story gets a bit more complicated: they have to ensure that their customers’ data won’t end up in the wrong hands. How does one do that?
With great power comes great responsibility and, in this case, security should be the number one priority of every business that handles sensitive information. A great way to test a system’s defense against attackers is third party Penetration Testing.
Here’s everything you need to know about Penetration Testing and how it can make the difference between a thriving business and one that falls into oblivion:
What Penetration Testing is and how it will benefit your business
Penetration Testing (pentesting) involves simulating real-world cyber attacks on a business’ system and putting the efficiency of its security measures to the test. The pentesting process takes place in a controlled environment and aims to find all the weak points of an application/network from an attacker’s viewpoint.
This process can help you not only identify the most valuable assets within your infrastructure but also understand the damage a real attacker could cause once they’ve got access to your systems. Moreover, it helps developers learn how attackers can break into the applications they develop and level up their security skills.
There are three main types of Penetration Tests:
- Black-Box: the testing takes place without any information regarding the target system. Testers do not receive any privilege such as access in the internal network, diagrams, source code, etc.. This kind of Penetration Testing is the most efficient one since it relies mostly on the skills and creativity of the tester and it will show you the path a real attacker may follow to take access to your systems and networks.
- White Box: security testers receive from the start comprehensive information that is related to the target applications and systems such as architecture diagrams, source code access, network maps, and documentation. Despite its main advantage of uncovering an increased number of vulnerabilities, this type of testing can prove time-consuming.
- Gray Box: the security testers get a certain level of access to the internal network. Usually, this consists of a pair of working username and password. Once being logged into the internal network, they can focus on the systems and networks which may be the most interesting ones for an attacker, without having to attack the applications and the users or bypass the firewall.
Adopting the right approach to pentesting will help you determine the security risks you have to address to keep your company’s data safe and secure. The main benefits your business can enjoy through regularly testing your systems include:
- Prevent financial losses caused by breaches
- Update your current security measures
- Comply with data privacy regulations such as GDPR
- Protect customers’ sensitive data
- Protect your products/services from damage
- Maintain your brand image
- Boost customer trust and loyalty
There is a too late when testing the security of your business
Why do I have to tell you all this you might ask. I’ve been a white hacker (aka the good guy) since high school years and I’ve seen ‘the backstage’ of network infrastructures.
I’ve learned that even the biggest companies out there such as Google, LinkedIn, and YouTube have vulnerabilities in their applications. There’s no such thing as 100% secure but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the best you can to ensure that attackers can’t access and steal your data.
After I finished university, I decided to leverage the experience I gained as a white hacker and help small and medium-sized companies secure their data and safely grow their business. Thus, LooseByte was created to keep the most valuable resource we have today, data, out of the hands of cybercriminals.
Our recommendation for all businesses out there is this: don’t let a cyberattack be the reason why you want to improve the security of your network/application. You might say that such things won’t ever happen to you, that your systems are quite secure and all will be fine. We hate to break it to you but the numbers say otherwise.
In fact, global security reports done by companies such as Trustwave show that 100% of web applications they tested in 2018 were vulnerable, the average number of vulnerabilities discovered within an application being no less than 15.
These findings are similar to what we experienced when working with our clients. In order to better understand how a vulnerability can impact your business, we’ll share with you our Top 3 most common vulnerabilities that we’ve discovered in various web applications over time:
- One vulnerability that we’ve found quite often in our clients’ systems, especially in the case of e-commerce businesses, is Broken Access Control. This system flaw allows a regular customer to access other customers’ data – invoices, home addresses, phone numbers and identity documents – by altering only a few parameters. Moreover, the process can be completely automated by attackers so that all the data can be extracted in a matter of minutes. To prevent this from happening, a development project should include security-oriented coding practices from the start so that potential attackers won’t be able to breach your system by exploiting this vulnerability.
- Another common vulnerability found while performing security audits for our clients is SQL Injection. Even though finding such a vulnerability requires advanced technical skills, an attacker could very easily exploit it in order to harm your business and customers. What causes the SQL Injection is this: features implemented in an application may sometimes use data coming from the user’s browser which is not verified against specific dangerous characters and sequence of words, thus allowing a hacker to communicate with the database and extract sensitive information (e.g.: users’ data, orders, admin password, etc.). Most of the time, developers are advised to use secure frameworks for writing complex functionalities. However, they don’t always have the necessary experience to do that or they might simply prefer to write code in their own style, which leads to a yet-undiscovered SQL Injection vulnerability.
- The most frequent security issue we find these days – that even big companies have to deal with from time to time – is XSS(Cross-Site-Scripting). This vulnerability is also the most ‘visual’ as the attackers can modify (temporarily or permanently) the design of a company’s webpages and trick their users into doing harmful actions. If your application has a comment section, allows users to post reviews or to send personal messages to other users, you may wish to re-check those functionalities and make sure that the content written by every user is securely encoded and filtered. This way malicious code that may be inserted by attackers cannot affect your application or your users.
Finally, what we want to bring to your attention is that these 3 types of vulnerabilities (and not only) can be easily detected and then fixed through Penetration Testing. One Penetration Testing at least a year (as recommended by most security specialists) keeps the cyber attackers away! It may not rhyme but it’s true.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the best ways to protect your data or if you’re unsure if your security measure can keep intruders at bay.