When is the Right Time for Penetration Testing?

penetration testing timing

Penetration testing is a vital step in the security process. To get the most value out of penetration testing, ensuring it is done at the right time is important. Performing security assessments too infrequently will leave security gaps that attackers can exploit in the downtime, but performing them too frequently will not provide the levels of results that may otherwise be expected by proper timing. Understanding the proper timing to get the maximum value out of penetration testing is important.

Regular Testing

Many regulations require at least annual testing to stay up to compliance standards. Even if not required, this frequency can be a good goal, as this will typically provide good value without being redundant. Meeting HIPAA and PCI compliance requirements involves annual testing. Annual testing is a good way to ensure that the regular changes done during normal business operations are regularly evaluated for security without being exposed for too long. Conducting penetration tests annually is really the minimum that should be done. Blue Goat generally recommends quarterly testing, depending on your environment and risk tolerance.

Most commonly, organizations will want external penetration tests to meet compliance standards. This will typically be done from either a black box or gray box approach. Performing this type of test will give organizations a good idea of what their security posture looks like from an attacker’s perspective. Along with external testing, other forms of security testing, such as internal, application, and phishing tests, can be a good idea. This will provide a more complete picture of the organization’s security posture.

Regular testing is a great way to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Small changes made to a company’s network can cause massive security flaws to appear that might become disastrous if left unchecked. Regular testing not only catches these vulnerabilities but also has the added benefit of seeing how an organization’s security posture evolves. If certain patterns are identified during penetration testing, it can show what areas might require extra focus in the future.

Testing Major Changes

The threat landscape can change massively whenever major changes are made to a network. Old problems may be no longer relevant, while dozens of new areas for concern can be introduced. Any time a massive change is made to an organization’s infrastructure, whether internal, external, physical, or even a large change in employees, the new systems should be tested for security. Many components, especially internal ones, may be overlooked under the false assumption that they will be secure by default.

Testing as major changes are deployed can also make the deployment process more effective. As part of proper penetration testing, the tester needs to identify problems they find and strengths they didn’t find. In doing this, the tester can help the client deploy a more polished and effective change to their infrastructure while ensuring the best practices are followed for security.

New Products

When a new product is being released, it can be a great idea to test its security in a safe environment before deploying it for public use. This can prevent costly problems when vulnerabilities are only found once external threat actors have access. Having a safe, controlled environment for testing can also streamline final quality assurance checks before the product is deemed complete.

This will be most commonly done for web applications, though almost any software product should be evaluated for security. Even branching outside of digital products, penetration testing physical products is a good idea and is often enforced by various regulations. A common example of this is medical devices. The FDA mandates rigorous testing for any newly developed medical device before the product can be shipped to market.

Timelines should account for the security process when preparing to release a new product. If testing is only done a few weeks before the intended release date, the product will likely have to be delayed or shipped with possibly severe vulnerabilities. Always be sure to accommodate for the time it takes to comprehensively test the product’s security. Once weak points have been identified, it is also important to allow enough time to ensure that all fixes properly remediate the previously identified vulnerabilities.

Test Your Organization’s Security With Blue Goat Cyber

Whether it is performing regularly scheduled testing for compliance purposes, patching up any problems after major shifts, or hardening devices before public release, we can help make sure that your organization is secure. Our team can work with you to find the best security solutions to fit your needs and keep your company safe from attack. Contact us to schedule a discovery session.

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