“I thought you were hackers. Surely you don’t need this information?”
It can seem counterintuitive to provide your security testing provider with vital information about your environments or grant them access to your systems. They shouldn’t need it, right? That’s correct, they don’t need it. However, if you want to achieve the best results from a test, in the time and budget constraints set, it is often beneficial to provide as much information as possible to your testers.
Supplying extensive information during the penetration testing process only enhances the effectiveness of testing. But where should you be looking to supply information during the process, and what are the benefits of doing so?
Thorough Scoping, Thorough Test
Scoping is one of the most important aspects of the testing process and forms the foundation for delivering a test that not only aligns with the client’s goals but also delivers the best possible results.
Information sharing is at the core of scoping, and the more information you can provide to your testing provider, the better. That’s why scoping is often a multistage process, allowing test providers to gain a detailed overview of the organisation, its security goals, previous testing, and a thorough understanding of the environment under investigation.
With this detailed knowledge, testers can then propose a bespoke test that will deliver both results and value for money.
Efficient Test Execution
Consultants who have a thorough understanding of the environment, access to privilege levels, network diagrams, and possibly source code can conduct tests more effectively. They can select methods, tools, techniques, and approaches that enable them to mimic real-life threats and thoroughly examine the security of the target.
By minimising the time spent on lengthy investigation stages like network reconnaissance, testers can also quickly speed up the process of identifying vulnerabilities. This usually leads to clients receiving better quality results within the limited time frame of their engagement.
Pen testing shouldn’t be a one-sided process; it needs to be a collaboration between testers and clients. Ideas, directions, insights, and findings should be exchanged throughout the test and beyond, ensuring the best possible results are achieved.
Having open communication from the outset builds confidence in the testing process for both parties, and active participation can often provide valuable context and insights that may not be apparent from an external perspective.
By working together, testers and clients can not only identify vulnerabilities more accurately but also prioritise remediation efforts based on their potential impact.
Enhanced Risk Assessment
Information sharing enables testers to conduct a more comprehensive risk assessment. By understanding the organisation’s infrastructure, technologies, and potential threats, testers can evaluate the likelihood and potential impact of various security vulnerabilities. This allows clients to make informed decisions about risk management and allocate resources effectively to address the most critical issues.
Moreover, sharing information about previous security testing initiatives can provide valuable historical context. Testers can identify recurring vulnerabilities or weaknesses that may not have been adequately addressed. This knowledge allows for a more targeted and effective testing approach, focusing on areas that require additional attention and remediation.
Long-term Security Improvement
Sharing information during the testing process is crucial for improving long-term security. Testers can offer actionable recommendations and guidance based on their findings, helping clients enhance their security posture. By identifying the root causes of vulnerabilities and weaknesses, organisations can implement robust security measures and improve their resilience against potential threats.
Furthermore, the insights gained from the testing process can inform future security strategies and investments. By examining the results and collaborating with testers, clients can identify patterns, trends, and emerging threats, enabling them to proactively address vulnerabilities before they are exploited.
In conclusion, the power of information sharing during the penetration testing process should not be underestimated. By providing comprehensive information and actively collaborating with testers, organisations can enhance the effectiveness of their security testing initiatives, improve risk assessment, and drive long-term security improvement. Embracing this approach fosters a stronger partnership between clients and testers, leading to more robust and resilient security measures.