Today’s ever-evolving digital landscape opens new possibilities for customers and businesses alike. With this rapid evolution comes the increased risk of cyber attacks. In 2020, cyberattacks were ranked the fifth highest risk as the new norm across public and private sectors. In 2022, data breaches cost businesses $4.35 million, amongst which phishing is the most common cyber threat individuals face.
But did you know that 73 percent of successful security breaches in the corporate sector are carried out by penetrating web applications? Sounds like a grave security threat, right? Well, it isn’t. These applications perform ethical hacking, also called penetration testing or pen testing.
Ethical hackers perform simulated attacks on their company’s network, computers, and applications to help identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a malicious hacker later. These modern-day knights are crucial for all organizations and businesses in today’s digital age. Why? Read on to find out.
Reason 1: Helps Identify Vulnerabilities Before Cybercriminals Do
Regardless of whatever your cybersecurity team tells you, your system can never be 100 percent protected from cyber-attacks.
Imagine a fortress with countless hidden entrances waiting to be exploited by invaders. These secret entrances are equivalent to vulnerabilities in the world of cyber security. A penetration tester acts as an invader and attempts to penetrate your fortress through these vulnerabilities. The data is then handed to the cybersecurity team to seal the identified hidden entrances.
These professionals conduct authorized simulated cyberattacks on an organization’s assets to identify its weaknesses before a malicious hacker does. If you’re passionate about cybersecurity and interested in becoming a penetration tester, many online courses and programs are available today.
Reason 2: Helps Prioritize the Risk Level of Vulnerabilities
The team of ethical hackers performing these controlled cyberattacks does not simply identify vulnerabilities but also categorizes them. After all, data is power.
Vulnerabilities are categorized by risk level, from low, to medium to high. This is to create a timeline to tackle these issues and efficiently distribute time and resources accordingly.
Reason 3: Strengthened Customer Trust and Confidence
Companies are built on trust. Customers will always entrust companies that demonstrate commitment to safeguarding their personal information. In the worst-case scenario that a security breach is conducted, companies don’t just lose data and control – they also lose lots of loyal customers.
Carrying out regular pen tests and enforcing necessary security protocols will safeguard a company’s data, reputation, and customer trust. Congratulations! Customers and partners now consider you reliable and trustworthy.
Reason 4: Meeting Regulatory Compliance Requirements
With the increased risk of unreliable applications and software, organizations and policymakers have set standards that businesses must meet. These standards define security regulations and standards each company must follow to ensure customer data safety and operate within legal boundaries.
These security standards often include a requirement for penetration testing. GDPR, PCI, DSS, FFEIC, or GLBA are major standards that your organization must follow. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines. A company handling a client’s personal or health information must meet the GDPR or HIPPA.
Reason 5: Successfully Fostering a Security-Conscious Culture
We have already established that penetration testing helps identify bugs, loopholes, and vulnerabilities. It helps secure you from all sorts of cyberattacks. But the impact of pen testing goes beyond that.
Ethical hacking practices increase employees’ understanding of the best cybersecurity practices. It raises awareness and caution in handling cybersecurity issues. Employees with a sound understanding of potential threats and weaknesses will always be more vigilant in their actions. The risk of cybersecurity breaches reduces significantly if employees are trained to recognize social engineering attempts and common tactics used by hackers.
Reason 6: Gaining a Competitive Advantage
In today’s digital landscape, efficiency is everything. As the industry keeps getting more competitive, companies with the most efficient system satisfy the largest customer base. But how does cybersecurity risk management improve efficiency?
Conscious efforts in addressing potential cybersecurity risks can help organizations avoid costly data breaches and system downtime. Minimized disruptions lead to higher productivity and revenue. Additionally, a clear understanding of cybersecurity threats and weaknesses does not just strengthen the system. It also helps the organization make informed decisions, enables secure remote work, and reduces incident response costs. All these ethical hacking advantages add to increased business opportunities. Customers, investors, and business partners alike are likelier to trust and engage with organizations that use cybersecurity practices effectively.
Reason 7: Helps Avoid Financial Losses and Reputation Damage
A successful cyberattack does not just cause an organization to lose data; it has several long-standing effects. These include but are not limited to financial loss and reputation damage. Most organizations are unaware or do not anticipate the longtail cost of a data breach, which may extend to months or years, putting a significant strain on the company’s financial resources.
These longtail expenses include costs to cover lost data, business disruption, revenue losses from the subsequent downtime, notification costs, and damage to the brand name that leads to the loss of customers. On average, the longtail costs can be divided through years one to three as given:
These include all the longtail costs mentioned above.
Reason 8: A Roadmap for Improvements
Perform penetration testing after each system upgrade, the addition of a new application, or whenever a new infrastructure is established.
Based on all the data recorded for each pen test conducted after upgrades, an organization can draft a road map on how and when to make improvements. How much time and resources must be allocated to these tasks? Additionally, the security team can make more informed decisions and streamline their work for higher efficiency.
To sum it up, with privilege comes power, and with power comes responsibility. Today’s global landscape has provided us the liberty of a highly interconnected world with access to our fingertips. With this power comes the responsibility of mindful cybersecurity practices.
Companies must employ a reliable vulnerability management system and perform regular pen tests or opt for an automated vulnerability program. A vulnerability scan can detect over 50,000 unique external or internal weaknesses. So, get your systems checked for all hidden entrances by an ethical hacker before a malicious hacker breaches them!