What Is Penetration Testing as a Service, and How Does It Strengthen Cyber Resilience?

penetration testing as a service

In today’s cybersecurity landscape, there is a continuous battle between your team and cybercriminals. Hackers have some advantages, with a myriad of techniques and tactics to breach your network. Being as proactive as possible is a vital way to reduce risk, and pen testing can help you achieve this. You’ll find that adopting penetration testing as a service can be a cost-effective and consistent way to drive continuous security and strengthen your cyber resilience.

What Is Penetration Testing as a Service?

Penetration testing as a service describes simulated attacks by ethical hackers via a platform. It combines manual and human-led testing with artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. It’s part of the principle of continuous security and works to detect and remediate vulnerabilities regularly.

The key difference when pen testing is a service is that it’s ongoing rather than just something that happens annually or biannually. As a result, whenever you make significant changes to your network, like adopting new applications or upgrading security, you can test it immediately to find any flaws that hackers could exploit.

How Is Penetration Testing as a Service Different from Traditional Pen Testing?

In traditional pen testing, there are multiple types, levels of access, and methods. Let’s review those quickly.

Pen Testing Levels of Access

  • Black Box Penetration Testing (or Opaque Box): Those conducting the exercise do not have any information about the internal structure of the target system. They attempt attacks like cybercriminals would, looking for weaknesses.
  • Gray Box Penetration Testing (or Semi-Opaque Box): Testers have minimal knowledge of the target system. They may have insights on data structure, code, or algorithms. Those creating the simulation might also have credentials, and the goal is to penetrate based on a use case correlating to the architectural diagram of the system.
  • White Box Penetration Testing (or Transparent Box): The ethical hackers have access to systems and artifacts, including source code and containers. They may also have the ability to enter servers running the system.

Pen Test Methods

  • External testing: Testers target visible assets of an organization, such as web applications, company websites, email, and domain name servers. The intent is to gain access and extract data.
  • Internal testing: This pen test happens behind the firewall to simulate what could occur after a human error security incident, like credentials stolen through phishing.
  • Blind testing: A blind test means the tester only has the organization’s name. This method facilitates a real-time scenario of an application assault.
  • Double-blind testing: A double-blind test depicts when internal cyber teams are unaware of the pen test. Those employees will then respond to the threat immediately.
  • Targeted testing: Testers and technical teams work together in this simulation. It is an excellent way to train employees and receive feedback from testers.

Pen Test Types

  • Web application pen testing: This test evaluates all security and potential risks, with a focus on broken authentication, code errors, and injections.
  • Network security pen tests: This type of test describes ethical hackers finding exploitable issues within your ecosystem. The test looks at switches, network hosts, and routers, seeking out weak or misconfigured assets that could be breachable.
  • Cloud security pen testing: In this test, cloud deployment security is the focus. It checks to ensure it’s accurate and locates any risks that could be a way for hackers to infiltrate. Testing for this is possible for public, private, and hybrid clouds.
  • IoT security pen testing: For companies that use IoT devices, this pen test analyzes them and their interactions in the network. The objective is to determine how secure these assets are.
  • Social engineering pen testing: This exercise uses phishing to understand if the network is able to defend, respond, and react. It also demonstrates if your security training program is effective.

No matter the method, type, or access level, traditional pen testing is linear. It has a set of steps that testers take that concludes with a report on vulnerabilities and a plan for remediation. Then, you follow the recommendations to “clean up” the weaknesses before starting a new round of testing to validate that the fixes worked.

What makes penetration testing as a service unique is that it’s circular, as it’s always ongoing. It also integrates remediation into this life cycle. It has similar characteristics to DevOps pillars, and for those companies using it on their own applications, these simulations can run parallel.

Another difference is that pen testing as a service can deliver continuous vulnerability management benefits long after the exercise ends. It requires collaboration between the testing firm and your internal team.

You can consider this type of pen testing to fall under several different standard categories of pen tests. It can apply to any pen test type, depending on your targets. It can be external or internal, but IT teams are usually aware of the test. Levels of access can vary and relate to the target system.

So, is penetration testing as a service right for your organization? Let’s look at its benefits.

Penetration Testing as a Service Benefits

These are the top benefits of using this approach to pen testing:

Test On Demand

With pen testing as a service, you have on-demand hacker-simulated events. Because it’s ongoing, any time is a good time to test and assess your defenses. You can collect great intelligence on how a cybercriminal would operate inside your network and whether or not you’re as cyber-resilient as you assume. Pen testers find the vulnerabilities and report them back quickly with remediation guidelines.

Get Early Feedback on Code Changes

This model of pen testing works well for companies that operate in the software industry. You’re always introducing new code to applications to fix flaws or improve features. Pen testing offers you the chance to check the code changes quickly for security issues. Developers can then review what testers found and make adjustments, which accelerates the software development life cycle and can result in products going to market faster.

Make Remediation Part of the Cycle

As noted, in this pen test framework, remediation is part of the cycle. This feedback loop from testers to internal teams about what to fix is what makes you more cyber-resilient. Additionally, the firm providing your testing can support your efforts to remedy weaknesses in your applications or networks.

Ensure Your Business Is More Agile

Agility is a key trait any organization wants to have in terms of cybersecurity. Being agile drives resiliency and is necessary in such a fast-paced threat environment. The cycle keeps running, so you have up-to-date information on vulnerabilities.

Receive More Accurate Information

Accuracy in pen testing is necessary, as you don’t want to work on issues that are false positives. Such a scenario happens a lot if pen testing is by automation only. In penetration testing as a service, humans and technology are performing the tests. Those conducting the tests have deep experience and knowledge, and they are using their intelligence to make conclusions about issues. You’re less likely to have false positives and can act on the information in good faith.

Scale Pen Testing When It’s a Service Model

Another considerable benefit to enterprises is the ability to scale pen testing. For large corporations, pen testing can be challenging with so many locations, lines of business, and systems. Since you can request a pen test on demand and apply it to any part of your network, each test will be consistent.

Validate Security Continuously

It’s impossible to be 100% secure, but you can get close with pen testing as a service. Your team receives regular information from the tests, which ensures they are making decisions based on best practices. The cycle of retesting after fixes provides validation of your remediation efforts.

To realize these benefits, you’ll need to work with a group that can deliver this type of pen test with effectiveness and efficiency.

What to Look For in Finding a Pen Testing as a Service Provider

When seeking a partner, you should emphasize these criteria:

  • Human-led pen testing: Another reminder that pen testing is only accurate and effective when humans are in control and use AI and automation as secondary approaches.
  • Specific expertise: Pen testing firms have various levels of experience and acumen. Ask questions about how they carry out these exercises and what credentials testers have. The ones that matter the most are CISSP, CSSLP, OSCP, ECSA, LPT (Master), and CEH.
  • Useful and actionable reporting: Some testing organizations deliver reports that are unclear and overly complicated. You want a report that’s concise and easy to understand so you can take immediate action. Request a sample report for evaluation.
  • Proven methodology: You should inquire about the steps they use in pen testing to ensure it aligns with best practices. The firm should also be able to tell you how accurate and reliable their methods are.

Pen Testing with the Blue Goat Cyber Experts

For pen testing that can build your cyber resilience, you can trust our team to support you. On-demand testing is available for any target system or application. Learn more about our solutions by scheduling a discovery session.

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