A Guide to Cybersecurity Testing: Everything You Should Know
As organizations scale and add new technologies to make work more efficient within the company, they also have to increase their security, such as with improved cybersecurity testing.
This became evident at the start of the pandemic when major gaps in the cybersecurity of companies that adapted new systems caused many vulnerabilities, and essentially, cyberattacks. Cybercriminals exploited those weaknesses to breach businesses and steal sensitive data.
The number of these attacks has been on the rise since 2020.
In the last two years, organizations have started to take cybersecurity much more seriously than ever before. They have the tools that protect almost every device from harmful hacking and possible financial damage.
But how can you know if the security strategy you have in place works?
Here’s everything you need to know to stay secure.
What Should Be Tested?
To have a bird’s-eye view of your systems, it’s necessary to evaluate the tools that you use to secure your systems, set protocols, and people.
It’s necessary to test both people who manage your systems and the rest of your team that uses them for work.
How to Prioritize Cybersecurity Testing Concerns
When testing your security tools, it’s important to evaluate them against new hacking techniques as well as well-known threats.
Methods that are well known are usually the ones that have been used by hackers and altered time and time again for maximum efficiency. Because they’ve been around for a while, they can be detected by the most basic cybersecurity, such as firewalls and anti-malware.
What they have in common is that they target people within organizations and rely on their lack of basic knowledge in cybersecurity.
Some common techniques against which you have to be protected at all times include:
- Phishing emails, that are usually sent via email and contain malware that can steal your sensitive data
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), that makes your applications and networks crash or slow down by overwhelming the traffic
- Ransomware that encrypts your files and demands ransom in exchange for a key that unlocks your data
For example, they might send phishing emails to employees that aren’t tech-savvy and are more likely to open links that lead to websites infected with malware.
Cybercriminals rely on these well-known threats because they work. They also hone them and make them more sophisticated so that your employees may not recognize them.
News of the latest methods and techniques that hackers are using to breach organizations can be intimidating as well.
In many cases, IT teams are facing zero-day threats — because you have zero days to fix the issue. Those are unknown threats for which your cybersecurity cannot be yet ready because they haven’t faced such methods before.
To prepare for emerging threats, companies keep tabs on the resources that describe new threats, hacking methods, and breaches.
One of them is MITRE ATT&CK Framework, the database that lists all the latest ways cybercriminals have used to attack businesses.
Alongside the description of the incidents, you will also find suggested solutions that your IT teams can use to remedy the issue and prepare for a possible breach.
How to Test the Tools You Have
When it comes to evaluating security, you have a couple of options. Penetration testing is the traditional way of testing tools and parts of systems from known hacking methods.
For this type of assessment, you have to hire cybersecurity experts. They will choose the part of the system to test against known threats and make detailed documentation on the vulnerabilities they find after the simulated attack.
Therefore, pen testing is thorough. Its major downside, though, is that it’s limited because most businesses can’t afford cybersecurity experts to regularly evaluate their systems.
Nowadays, most companies use automated pen testing to assess security. This is important because your attack surface can change within minutes.
Waiting for months to discover flaws in the system can be too long because hackers can do a lot of damage to your systems in the meantime.
Continuous Security Validation is one example of automated cybersecurity testing that can run continuously in the background. Instead of testing the tools that you have for security two or three times a year, it does so 24/7.
Also, you can set this tool to do continual evaluation non-stop for your top cybersecurity concerns.
After the testing, your IT teams get a report of the simulated attack that shows them the top risks that must be patched up.
For some companies, it’s mandatory to have annual or biannual pen testing of their systems. They usually combine the obligatory manual and automated cybersecurity testing to ensure they’re on top of things all the time.
Evaluate, Patch Up Vulnerabilities, and Repeat
When you test your security with tools such as Continuous Security Validation, the goal is to weed out any weaknesses in the system.
The vulnerable spot of your system might even be the people who manage your tools.
If you find out that your employees failed a phishing test or that your cybersecurity teams haven’t successfully defended the system, this is a sign that they need more training.
In your security evaluation, you might also find out that you lack the tools that should protect you from new hacking methods. Add software that can recognize and remove new cyber threats as soon as possible.
After you assessed the security, discovered the weaknesses that might turn into incidents, and fixed the flaws within the network, you need to go back to step one.
Continual maintenance of the systems is necessary to ensure that you have a strong security posture that can pack a punch when it discovers possible hacking threats.
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