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A tech writer specialising in cybersecurity, working with Redscan on this and a number of other GDPR, MDR, and ethical hacking projects.
November 27, 2019

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ethical hacking

Five things that ethical hacking will tell you about your business

Many businesses and organisations aren’t sure whether ethical hacking is a good idea. Some are nervous about the prospect of giving a third-party access to systems.

But in most cases, many simply don’t appreciate the full value that engagements offer or see them as a grudge purchase driven by compliance requirements.

If you are unsure about the value of commissioning a specialist cyber security company to conduct an ethical hacking assessment, such as penetration testing or red team operation, here are five things that you stand to learn.

  1. Where the weaknesses are in your systems

One of the principal aims of ethical hacking is to understand where the weaknesses are within systems and applications – something that your organisation’s internal staff can be blind to.

The weaknesses in your systems can be extremely varied. Problems might be simple, such as unpatched hardware – a recent report found 80 per cent of enterprise IT systems have unpatched vulnerabilities. Alternatively, the weaknesses could be more complex, such as flaws relating to authentication and session management, input validation, or information leakage.

  1. The effectiveness of your security systems

More than just identifying vulnerabilities; ethical hacking is used to understand whether security systems are effective at preventing and detecting attacks.

During the course of a Red Team Operation, an ethical hacker will attempt to establish how well your systems can defend against different attack scenarios. These may include phishing, brute force, privilege escalation and physical compromise.

  1. The readiness of your IT team to respond to an attack

Of course, it may be the case that you have all the right tools and procedures in place – but if you don’t have staff with specialist knowledge to manage the system or respond to alerts, it can potentially all be in vain.

Ethical hackers can evaluate the performance of your organisation’s security team to respond to and quickly remediate breaches, and help identify training requirements and improvements to incident response processes.

Remember that ethical hacking, such as penetration tests, such as this can also be valuable practice and learning experiences for your security team, so that they can understand whether they are prepared in the event of a real attack taking place.

  1. Where to spend your security budget

When your ethical hacking assessment is over, the individual or team will produce a written report. This report will help you to understand what exposures were identified, the level of risk they pose, and what is needed to remediate them. As well as helping to instruct you, one of the major advantages of all this information is that it will help you to prioritise future security spending.

It may be the case that a vulnerable aspect of your system requires development work, or that new monitoring tools need purchasing. It could even be the case that employees require specialist training in order to be able to deal with an attack more effectively.

  1. How compliant you are with industry regulation

As well as being mandated by some regulations, a pen test will also help to ensure compliance with other requirements of the same regulation – like ensuring that data is adequately protected.

Perhaps the most famous regulation is the GDPR – which requires a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of data processing. However, pen testing can also help maintain compliance with many other regulations such as PCI DSS and ISO 27001.

The benefits of ethical hacking for your business

Ethical hacking offers you so much more than just an outside eye on your IT security – it can help to significantly improve your security posture as well as make better security and financial decisions. Research has shown a broad variety of other benefits, including improving your technical environment, leading to fewer support calls, as well as greater team and company-wide confidence in security systems.

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