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Do You Need a Pen Test to Find Out if Your Network is Secure?

If you’re unsure about the strength of your cybersecurity posture, you might be wondering if you need a penetration test (pen test). A pen test is a robust method for finding security gaps. However, it’s not the first thing that business leaders should go to when they’re wondering about the effectiveness of their network security.

A vulnerability scan would be more appropriate to find out if security best practices are in place. However, don’t forget to assess human behavior when you’re evaluating security because it won’t matter what your defenses are if someone unknowingly opens the door for a cyber-attacker.

What’s the difference between a pen test and a vulnerability scan? How do you assess your employees’ ability to recognize and respond to a potential cyber-attack? That’s what we’ll cover in this article.

What’s a Pen Test?

A pen test is an aggressive method that aims to break through your cyber defenses by testing them with automated and manual tactics. It’s best performed by an objective third party who does not also manage your network. There are different types of pen tests that can be performed on IT systems to evaluate the security of hardware and software, including security equipment like firewalls.

Different types of pen tests are structured depending on how you want to set up the simulation. Factors to consider include how much information is shared with the tester and whether or not the internal IT team knows that the test is taking place.

If you have a mature cybersecurity strategy and you know that you have security best practices in place, then a penetration test would be a way to find out how well you can repel a potential attack.

What’s a Vulnerability Scan?

While a pen test searches for unknown vulnerabilities, a vulnerability test looks for known potential issues to evaluate the effectiveness of your security. Vulnerability scans evaluate the external interfaces of your network but they also scan anything that’s inside your network including all the different devices and workstations that are connected to it.

Some examples of what a vulnerability scan might turn up include instances where your hardware or software is not set up properly. They’ll uncover weak or non-existent passwords and non-secured APIs. A vulnerability scan will reveal applications and operating systems that are out-of-support.

When you’re starting to build a cybersecurity strategy, a vulnerability scan will reveal weaknesses and give you the information you need to create a plan for improvement.

How Do You Test People for Cybersecurity Literacy?

Phishing simulations will quickly tell you which employees are more susceptible to social engineering than others. These simulations look like real emails that ask the recipient to click a link or download an attachment but instead of unloading malware, it raises a red flag that the employee needs cybersecurity awareness education.

Training people how to recognize and respond to potential messages that try to trick them into letting an intruder into your network should be ongoing. An annual workshop isn’t enough. The best cybersecurity training customizes experiences according to how each person responds to the simulations.

The bottom line for keeping cybersecurity top of mind for employees is to require training and to make security a topic in internal communications on an ongoing basis.

Related: How to get people to care about cybersecurity

Cybersecurity for XPERTECHS Clients

Here at XPERTECHS, we work with companies to stand up a security posture that aligns with each organization’s risk profile and tolerance. We guide them through a process that determines a level of security that is appropriate to their situation but every strategy includes essential components such as:

  • Implementation of security best practices
  • Robust identity management for online accounts
  • Attention to non-technical security processes
  • Investment in ongoing cybersecurity awareness training
  • Development of an incident response plan

Related: Why aren’t cybersecurity services the same for everyone

How Effective is YOUR Security?

Sometimes the first step you need to take to determine if you’re doing what you need to do to defend your organization from cyber threats isn’t a test but a conversation.

Contact us to schedule a consultation and find out if you need to up your security game.