Cyberattacks are rising decade per decade, and this decade is no different. It is no surprise that web attacks rose by 56% in the last year alone, reports Norton’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report. It provides an insightful example:
“Cyber criminals load malicious code onto retailers’ websites to steal shoppers’ credit card details, with 4,800+ unique websites compromised on average every month. Both well-known and small-medium businesses were attacked … yielding tens of millions of dollars to bad actors last year,” proving the very danger.
What’s the solution? Penetration testing is one of the solutions to harden the security of software or an organization. However, it has its own drawbacks, which demands for better, future technology. In this guide, you will learn the basics of penetration testing and the solution that may replace pentesting.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing — also known as ethical hacking or pentesting — is the process of hacking into or testing a computer network or system for finding security bugs or vulnerabilities. The goal is to find the high-risk vulnerabilities before they are exploited by hackers to attack and breach the system.
You can compare pentesting to “a bank hiring someone to dress as a burglar and try to break into their building and gain access to the vault. If the ‘burglar’ succeeds and gets into the bank or the vault, the bank will gain valuable information on how they need to tighten their security measures,” according to Cloudflare.
“It’s best to have a pen test performed by someone with little-to-no prior knowledge of how the system is secured because they may be able to expose blind spots missed by the developers who built the system. For this reason, outside contractors are usually brought in to perform the tests,” wrote Cloudflare.
Moreover, penetration testing is as thorough and successful as the expertise of ethical hackers or security experts testing the systems. Also, cybercriminals are being inventive in their methods and tools, making it harder for the security teams to keep up with their bad counterparts. So, what is the solution?
What is Automated Pentesting?
automated pentesting is is the term for performing automated software-based penetration testing. It was born out of the necessity of decreasing costs and resources for testing a system. Of course, it is not without some drawbacks — like penetration testing.
Since the most rules of penetration testing apply for automated pentesting too, it is as effective and successful as the team of ethical hackers behind the tests. Since the tests and tools are designed by the security teams, their expertise limits the ability of penetration testing in finding the exploitable bugs.
That said, penetration testing and automated penetration testing — both — fail at keeping up with the advancements in the dark digital world of hackers. Thus, there was a requirement for a better security solution than pentesting.
What is Future Technology?
Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) is the future of application security testing including penetration testing and automated pentesting. The reason being it solves some of the issues with the other security testing technologies. Of course, it is not a perfect solution, but then, is there any perfect technology?
That said, Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) technologies “allow enterprises to continually and consistently simulate the full attack cycle (including insider threats, lateral movement and data exfiltration) against enterprise infrastructure, using software agents, virtual machines, and other means,” per Gartner. BAS was introduced in Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Threat-Facing Technologies 2017.
What is the Biggest Problem?
“Organisations collectively spent more than $90 billion* on cybersecurity solutions in 2017. Despite this, hackers continue to gain the upper hand. Often due to the extraordinarily complex nature of Cyber Solutions, organisations are unable to determine if these solutions are deployed correctly and if they are working as planned, defending the organisation, against the ever-changing threat landscape. In addition, prioritising security investment is a challenge that many organisations have as vulnerability assessment programs and penetration testing fails to connect risks with business metrics,” according to Elasticito.
As explained above, the major problem is that cybercriminals breach the security of organizations even with their expensive security infrastructure. The problem may be the security solutions, but the key issue lies with the usage and deployment of those security solutions. Cybercriminals can get successful at attacking an organization if its security infrastructure has any vulnerability — may be a misconfiguration, a missing security solution, or improper tools.
How is BAS a Better Solution?
Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) allows organizations to test their security infrastructure continuously and consistently, which is one of the main issues with penetration testing and automated pentesting (though incompletely). BAS technologies simulate real attacks on the organization’s resources by launching de-weaponized and multi-vector attacks — internal and external attacks.
BAS helps the organizations validate their security infrastructure along with the configuration settings and usage of security technologies including breach and intrusion detection and prevention systems. Thus, BAS enables organizations to assess the effectiveness of their current security infrastructure and provides a full report on configuration issues, security procedures, and vulnerabilities.
Breach and Attack Simulation technologies can also complement other security solutions including penetration testing and red team testing solutions. In short, apart from validating processes and solutions, BAS can also validate security operations and teams’ abilities at finding and fixing security vulnerabilities.
Finally, its findings help the decision-makers or executives to plan the cyber risk assessment program. It helps point out the parts of the infrastructure that are failing to keep up with cybercriminals. That means the decision-makers are better-equipped at making risk-mitigation plans for combating cyber risks.