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Internal Penetration Testing and Small Businesses

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Andy Gritzer

Internal Penetration Testing

What is Internal Penetration Testing?

You may be thinking, “What even is an internal penetration test?” There is just something wrong about the phrase when you say it. The way it rolls off the tongue is just odd. Internal penetration testing is the act of mimicking a hacker to break into your systems and find vulnerabilities in your internal network. In a nutshell, it is building your defense by offensively assessing your company’s security. Well, that still doesn’t sound too good, right? However, it is very beneficial to companies and it is a growing compliancy factor for security standards such as PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).

Why Do I Need Internal Penetration Testing?

Internal penetration testing is a way to proactively protect your network from attacks that may be lurking around town or online around the world. It can prevent data loss, business down-time, and protect critical customer or employee information by showing a business owner the possible flaws in their current network. There are a plethora of ways a hacker can infiltrate the network. Some common ways are social engineering, wireless hacking, or network stalking. The best part is that the vulnerabilities found can be remediated to prevent the attacks from happening again. In other words, this is a form of risk mitigation.

Additionally, internal penetration testing costs less than an actual data breach. The time it takes to resolve an emergency response situation, such as a disgruntled employee deleting vast amounts of data, is far less than an actual penetration test. When emergency situations like the one above occurs, there are costs everywhere. First, there are costs associated with legal matters to see where you stand in the situation. Then, there are forensic investigator fees to review the forensic image of your data to find a clear sign that these events have occurred. Further, there are emergency response fees to restore your data. Finally, there is the time it will take to mitigate the threat in the future.

man working on laptop with internal penetration testing

Why do Small Businesses Need Internal Penetration Tests?

Many small business fall into bad practice categories that could leave them exposed, such as default/weak passwords or unencrypted traffic. Some owners believe they cannot be a victim to a hack because they live in a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania. In reality, once you are connected to the internet, you are a click away. The internet is the high speed highway leading directly to your doorstep. Don’t believe me? Check out Shodan is an online search engine, like Google, designed for finding connected devices on the Internet. This Search Engine finds servers, web cameras, and even databases. Pretty scary right? Moreover, many small businesses lack a formal security plan or disaster recovery plan if or when an incident occurs.

When real attacks occur, most businesses do not find out they have been a victim of cybercrime until months later. Cybercrime isn’t limited to corporate environments anymore, and small businesses are hackers’ new targets for a variety of reasons. One reason is that small business are likely to be more vulnerable than a corporate company with a 24/7 security team constantly watching their networks. Furthermore, there is a time and effort factor that is crucial. Hackers stalk and attack small businesses that are more unprepared for more advanced types of attacks.

How Can I Protect My Business?

Hiring an experienced Penetration Tester can quickly assess many common vulnerabilities in a network within an hour or two of work using a variety of tools. This would include finding unencrypted traffic, default/weak passwords, or common exploits found on connected devices. A more comprehensive test could take roughly a week. However, a comprehensive overview utilizes network stalking, customized exploits, and social-engineering. It can even be fun for the employees to learn from experiencing a real attack with social-engineering. There are many methods a real cyber criminal may use to attack your network and hiring an experienced technician can stop a real attacker in his or her tracks and prevent the expense of system down-time.

Having an internal penetration test implemented is like a form of insurance for your network. Having the second set of eyes that can review your network security can stop threats before they happen. Penetration tests help with compliance for security standards your company may need to abide by. Furthermore, a full comprehensive test can show areas where employees need training by utilizing a game-like environment to touch on security awareness and social engineering. To rephrase it, think of internal penetration testing as a yearly medical examination. Even if you are healthy, you may still find symptoms of illnesses or other dangers. However, you can prevent danger from happening by incorporating routines.

For more information on Small Businesses and Penetration Testing, check out the links below:

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