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Penetration Testing: The Key to Measuring InfoSec Success

Don't leave security preparedness up to chance. Simulate attacks to test and improve your security posture.

As business and IT leaders increase investment in information security, the need to correlate security spending with real-world results increases. Without periodically testing their capabilities, organizations can't keep up with a rapidly changing security landscape.

Penetration testing provides a clear assessment of organizational resilience and risk mitigation. Simulated cyberattacks allow IT leaders to measure incident response outcomes and quantify the impact of their risk management approach. It also provides insight into key metrics like the amount of time it takes to detect and respond to suspicious activity on the network.


When to Conduct Penetration Testing

Penetration testing has become a catchall term often confused with vulnerability scanning.  

    • Penetration testing is the active, manual exploitation of robust security defenses by a professional team.
    • Vulnerability scanning is an automated application that searches for signs of known security issues. 

Penetration testing is best-suited for organizations that have already deployed high-performance security solutions and scanned for known vulnerabilities. It provides security teams with deep insight into how actual threat actors might operate when trying to break through organizational defenses.


How to Measure Security Performance With Penetration Testing

To maximize the effectiveness of penetration testing, your organization must provide employees with a robust incident notification system. If this system is already a part of first-tier technical support, penetration testing will provide critical data into its speed and effectiveness. 

Analysts will need to search through this report by incident type, date range, frequency, severity, and duration. This data will help analysts categorize attack types and identify points of improvement after the testing phase is finished.

Some of the incident categories analysts may establish include: 

    • Phishing. These logs will report any attempt to trick employees into opening malicious files or accessing compromised websites.  
    • Credential compromise. These logs will show compromised passwords and login credential information.
    • Data breaches. Unauthorized access to any network asset should be considered a data breach and reported in its category. 
    • Policy violations. Analysts will need to identify employees who neglect to follow security policies and establish guidelines for improving compliance. 
    • Edge probes. Incidents occurring at the network edge may provide valuable early warning signs on new attacks. 
    • Employee inquiries. A separate category for employee inquiries will help security professionals educate team members and respond to policy questions. 
    • Stolen or missing assets. Any missing company hardware, such as thumb drives, hard disks, or laptops, should be reported in a separate category and tagged for investigation. 
    • Malware. Malware attacks and responses are tracked more efficiently when stored in their category. This makes it easier to create accurate malware attack timelines. 
    • Investigations. This is where all security investigations and their findings are available for easy tracking and measurement. 
    • Social engineering. Suspicious phone calls, emails, and other personal interactions can provide valuable information about threat actor's tactics and objectives. 
    • Account lockouts. Forgotten login credentials do not indicate a security compromise on their own but can sometimes play a role in a larger attack pattern.

Patterns will emerge as your team works through incidents recorded in these categories. Their reports will show where employee training and guidance are needed most. You may also distribute awareness surveys and conduct social engineering exercises to improve penetration testing results.


How Castra Can Help With Penetration Testing

With Castra as your managed detection and response partner, you can use our resources to run comprehensive attack simulations. We can test our clients' responses to external exposures, internal compromise, and even social engineering attacks. 

We give our penetration testers ample information on the environment, enabling them to behave as if they had months to conduct research. The better our red team performs, the more the blue team learns. At the end of the exercise, we may hold a purple team workshop where penetration testers can demonstrate the techniques and tools while fielding questions about their tactics. 

Castra is dedicated to deploying best-in-class security technologies that effectively help clients detect and mitigate security risks. We provide the tools and expertise you need to detect penetration attempts and produce detailed reports you can use to improve your capabilities against actual attacks.

Talk to us about our Managed Detection and Response services.