With the average global cost of a data breach rising from $3.86 million in 2020 to $4.24 million in 2021, it’s clear that cyber threats are becoming more dangerous. One way organizations fortify their sensitive data against external attack is through penetration tests.
However, accurately predicting the penetration testing scope for your business (prior to conducting it) is essential for effectively identifying and remediating your organization’s security vulnerabilities.
The scope of a penetration test refers to its depth and limitations. That’s why it’s important to consider a pen testing scope that fully takes into account your network, physical security controls, databases, applications, accounts, and other at-risk assets.
This article covers:
- Why pen testing is Important
- How to determine the scope of penetration testing needed
- Improving incident response with penetration test scope services
What is Penetration Testing and Why is it Important?
Penetration testing, or pen testing, is a simulated cyberattack that checks your systems for exploitable vulnerabilities. Given how no two businesses are the same, the scope of penetration testing varies with each organization.
Without the right scope accurately determined, the effectiveness of the pen test and your business value from the assessment will suffer.
The main reason why pen tests are important for improving security is that they quickly identify the vulnerabilities that could be exploited to harm your business. By identifying and fixing system exploits, you can take a proactive approach with your IT security and better protect your business from cyber threats.
One of the biggest threats US companies are facing right now is phishing attacks. For instance, 74% of US companies in 2020 experienced successful phishing attacks.
Several types of penetration tests are able to identify all areas of your network that are vulnerable to phishing scams, including your employees.
Defining the Scope of a Penetration Test
A penetration testing scope takes into account all the items being tested for an engagement within a specific set of boundaries.
When a certain software, system, network, or activity is not allowed within the limitations, they are qualified as “out of scope.”Additionally, every pen test has limitations on what should, and should not, be tested.
So what determines an effective pen test?
Effective penetration testing scope is characterized by being:
- Granular – Pen testing scope should be deep enough to identify root issues from single or logical business function groupings.
- Focused – Many organizations make the mistake of over-scoping in a penetration test, thereby leaving inadequate personnel, time, and resources for an effective pen test.
- Cost-Effective – Maximizing your pen test ROI requires your penetration testing scope not to be under or over scoped, meaning granular limitations must be intentional and enforced.
Generally, pen tests are tailored around answering specific questions, such as:
- Is this web application secure?
- Are we in compliance with “X” regulation?
- Is our team adequately trained to identify and avoid phishing attacks?
How to Assess Penetration Testing Scope
As an organization, you can take steps to define the penetration test scope that best suits your budget and needs.
Pinpoint Business and Data Concerns
Take time to reflect on the most important data and business concerns you may have (as your findings will serve as the foundation for the penetration test scope). From there, allow our assessment team to test your system’s defenses where afterward we’ll share strategic insights into how to improve security and mitigate future risk.
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Breakdown System Architecture
Collaborate with your consulting team to identify security boundaries for each pen test. Remember, you don’t want to be under or over scoped. Make sure to clearly define the assessment goals and the pen testing scope for each engagement.
Prioritize Risk Assessments and Weaknesses
Web applications are frequent targets of cyberattacks because of their vast attack surface.
As a result, it’s best to determine early on which weaknesses will be addressed through in-house or outsourced IT. A good rule of thumb is to define the scope according to specific business risks. For instance, network security or cloud security.
Fine-Tune Your Annual Pen Testing Scope
For effective pen tests that work with your budget and needs, make sure to leverage your consultant’s expertise to maintain a proactive IT posture. In addition, fine-tune the pen testing boundaries for specific engagements. Reliable consultancies should have no issue guiding you to penetration testing services tailored to your needs.
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Safeguard Business Data With Accurate Pen Testing
Gain peace of mind and ensure your business doesn’t have potentially costly vulnerabilities with our comprehensive pen testing services.
Your pen testing needs naturally fluctuate along with your budget, business demands, and the state of your security ecosystem. In an industry where most pen tests lead to canned reports, our custom pen tests are designed to test specific system environments for potential exploits.
With the help of our cybersecurity professionals, we can help you create a multi-layered security framework that locks in data security while eliminating vulnerabilities before they can impact your business.
For personalized pen testing services, consider CP Cyber as your trusted security specialist.
Discover more by connecting with one of our pen testing specialists today.