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Continuous Penetration Testing is a New Insight-Driven Solution Model

Continuous Pen Testing and PTaaS

We often talk about the advantages of penetration testing in a cybersecurity context. For organizations, both large and small, penetration testing is a critical function to ensure a network is cybersecurity resilient. These tests apply pressure to reveal the inherent weaknesses of a network and its responses. A test of how well-trained the workforce is for cybersecurity incidents allows cybersecurity leaders to refine their long-term strategies.

But the nature of IT and cyber security is a constant evolution of new methods, strategies, and technology. As hackers further optimize their attack strategy with autonomous AI-generated malware, utilize ransom or services, and broaden their target list, traditional penetration testing may no longer be sufficient. Instead, the modern enterprise should look into continuous penetration testing.

What are modern threats like?

Speed and agility are the most dangerous characteristics of modern hacker attacks. The sheer volume and efficiency at which threat campaigns are launched is unprecedented. Modern threat actors now have the resources to use some of the most dangerous malware assets available. They do not require network expertise or even in-depth knowledge to launch these attacks. In most cases, they only need a target list and their malware of choice.

A network can be compromised within minutes. Therefore, there is a great need for both resiliency and fast response in the modern IT environment. Continuous penetration testing is a part of that.

Its objective is to create a constant state of security validation. Depending on the size of the network, policies like zero trust may be implemented combined with multifactor authentication. This helps foster a resilient layer of cyber security with numerous tools to catch unusual behavior within a network. It is also incredibly useful for eliminating redundancies. False positives are a common problem in cyber security, creating erroneous alerts and using valuable resources and time. With tools that continuously check for genuine malicious activity, cybersecurity response can be far more precise.

What is continuous penetration testing?

Traditional penetration testing involves scheduling sessions to fully examine the IT infrastructure of the business network. While still useful, they require a pause in routine operations for a certain duration. There must also be scheduled in advance, and do not account for incoming malicious attacks. They are inherently designed to prepare a network by revealing the weaknesses and strengths of said network.

However, with the speed and efficiency of modern attacks, this traditional strategy is no longer effective. In worst-case scenarios, traditional penetration testing methods can even leave the DevSecOps teams in the dark. While pen testing is centered on a healthy cyber security strategy, it is quickly outpaced by modern attacks. Continuous penetration testing, however, utilizes automated results and AI to provide continuous feedback.

What does continuous penetration testing do?

Normally operated through a third-party vendor, continuous penetration testing combines numerous modern techniques to actively test an environment. Vendors offer these as “pen testing as a service,” or PTaaS.

What services are provided will vary from vendor to vendor, there are foundational resources to each. The goal is to combine manual methods, automated solutions, and machine learning to eliminate false positives and constantly monitor the state of the network. Essentially, this active penetration provides optimal visibility into the company’s cybersecurity infrastructure. One of the biggest risks to IT is not having a complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of its current network setup. Ideally, penetration testing services can reveal things like shadow IT and inherent vulnerabilities which are characteristics of unsecured IT.

Vendor options for penetration testing also draw from the advantage of expertise and shared knowledge. Normally, a routine penetration test is managed by in-house current IT experts. Not only is this a time-consuming process, but it’s as strong as the resources available to the IT network. And, the execution of result reports takes longer, along with the implementation of solutions to address the problems the penetration test revealed.

PTaaS also operates by introducing solutions after the completion of each test. Normally, a standard pen test involves report execution. The report is pushed to DevOps who then develop solutions, and the cycle repeats within a timeframe. Today, that lack of agility is no longer enough. Instead, active testing creates solutions on the go with automated tech and AI/machine-learning insights. Third parties can handle report execution as well, allowing in-house cybersecurity and IT teams to focus on priority tasks.

Immediate benefits of PTaaS

IT and cybersecurity teams seek fast results. Some of the highlighted benefits of onboarding a PTaaS solution are:

  • Accuracy and agility, where continuous pen tests can create and deliver reports driven from accurate captures of an IT network and all its peripheries; help eliminate false positives and redundant data
  • Scaling resources that operate within the framework of a business, expands or decreases as needed
  • On-demand pen tests versus scheduling them
  • Limited use of business bandwidth to avoid downtime and service delays
  • Greatly improves internal communication between reports and DevOps

In the long term, enterprises taking advantage of pen-test services can expect other benefits like cost-savings and improved cybersecurity. It also better prepares them for automated solutions, machine-learning integration, and the evolving threat of automated malware attacks. It can also keep your enterprise compliant with growing CISA standards, regulatory concerns, and cybersecurity privacy requirements.

Should I implement continuous pen testing?

After the benefits we’ve discussed and the advantages, it’s still a question of whether a PTaaS is right for your enterprise. It’s certainly advantageous for smaller organizations that lack the resources and experts to conduct their frequent tests. It’s also prudent if an enterprise is short on expert staff.

You must gauge your current cybersecurity posture and constantly fine-tune it. The agile nature of malware attacks is simply too overwhelming for traditional solutions to keep pace. If your organization is facing a backlog of unresolved issues, security weaknesses, expansion of shadow IT, and lack of insight-driven decisions, it’s wise to look into continuous penetration testing solutions.

You can use third party resources to build these programs, or, utilize vendor services for PTaaS. For more information, contact Bytagig today.

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