Ethical hacking, also known as penetration testing or pen testing, has become an increasingly popular topic in recent years.
The process involves the same method used by criminal hackers in order to test (and attempt to break) the digital defenses of a business. By authorizing and simulating a cyber crime or attack, a business can identify vulnerabilities in their systems that could be exploited by criminals.
While cyber crimes and digital attacks are certainly illegal, ethical hacking is completely sound. A company can employ a cyber security firm or IT team to attempt to hack their systems in order to test their strength. The cyber security professionals then provide a complete report of a businesses’ vulnerabilities, including any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers.
Read on to learn more about ethical hacking, and how it could be an asset for your business.
The benefits of penetration testing
A few years ago, penetration testing was thought of as absurd. Very few businesses saw value in hiring a hacker to test their business defenses. Now, even when penetration testing is seen as an important preventive measure, most business owners think that it is useful and attainable by only large and successful enterprises. Reality is different, though; businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the practice, especially considering the rise of cybercrime due to Covid-19. Notable benefits of ethical hacking include:
Increasing your business security in the right places
Ethical hacking can help make businesses stronger. Small businesses are increasingly targeted by hackers, and it is crucial to maintain secure cyber defenses. In the UK, a small business is hacked every 19 seconds and more than 60,000 hack attempts happen every day.
In total, more than 1.6 million businesses are victims of hacking attempts every year in the UK alone. During Covid-19, that number has increased significantly and what’s worse, cybercriminals evolve and become more sophisticated over time. One report found that 46% of businesses and 26% of charities had cyber security breaches in the last year.
Phishing attempts have increased in recent years, and as businesses improve their data security, cyber criminals attempt to keep up. Consistently checking the digital defenses of your business is essential to securing your data, keeping your business running smoothly, and preventing cyber attacks.
Save time and money
Learning from ethical hacking can save your business money in the long-term and help you avoid the devastation of a digital attack. One savvy cyber criminal has the power to shut down a small business, but penetration testing ensures your defenses are strong where they need to be. Testing in specific areas, such as email hacking, helps identify potential vulnerabilities and enables you to devise a protection plan before an incident occurs.
Hacking attempts and cyber attacks can be expensive. One-fifth of businesses that experienced a cyber attack reported a negative material outcome, meaning the business lost money or data. Two out of five businesses were impacted in a negative way, including time lost, implementing new security measures, or experiencing business disruptions. Investing in cyber defenses can prevent major losses for your business.
Stages of penetration testing
If you have never heard of ethical hacking or tried it out before, the process can seem foreign. We have broken it down into some manageable steps that small businesses can follow:
- Planning: This stage involves defining the scope of work as well as the goals for ethical hacking. You can determine which systems need to be addressed and any preferred methods of testing. Your hackers will also gather information on your systems in order to understand how it works.
- Scanning: Various intrusion attempts are deployed to see how your applications respond. These attempts can inspect the code of your applications and offer real-time insights into your system’s performance.
- Access: Attacks are launched on your web application in order to discover vulnerabilities. The hackers will try to exploit any vulnerabilities they uncover and see how much damage can be caused.
- Maintaining: Hackers will see if a persistent presence can be maintained in the system by exploiting vulnerabilities. This attempt will determine whether hackers can gain deeper access into your system and mimics advanced threats that could remain in your system for months.
- Analysis: The final stage of penetration testing involves a complete report detailing the findings of the hacking. You will understand which vulnerabilities were exploited, what data was accessed, and how long a hacker could remain in your system without detection.
Now that you understand the benefits of ethical hacking for your business, you may wonder, how do I get started? Before you connect with a penetration testing firm to test your digital defenses, you need to know if you have the right solutions and strategies in place. Our team of experienced cyber security professionals can help you equip your system with the right solutions and keep your business protected from cyber criminals.
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