Your organization likely has some form of security system in place. This could involve relatively simple controls and procedures, and / or include advanced protocols and technologies that protect against a vast array of potential threats.

Ultimately however – how do you know whether someone is able to breach your security systems? More importantly – how would someone be able to succeed breaching your security systems?

You would test for this of course.

 

Security Reconnaissance

Security reconnaissance is basically running a simulation. This simulation involves an active analysis of the target system, to test for any potential vulnerabilities that may result from:

  • Poor and / or improper system configuration
  • Known and unknown hardware / software flaws
  • Operational weaknesses (usually introduced accidentally in complex systems)
  • Technical countermeasures producing unintended responses
  • Other technology-based issues

Running such a simulation helps organizations understand where and how their IT systems are vulnerable, and help determine what threat vector(s) are capable of exposing these identified vulnerabilities.

Important: Simulations of this type are always run with strict guidelines, and the exact scope of such a simulation will always be determined between the vendor and client.

 

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing (or pentest) is a method of evaluating the security integrity of a system – by simulating an attack on the system from various internal and external sources. Such tests form a part of an overall security audit, and are legally mandated in some industries (such as PCI DSS for payment cards).

Penetration tests are valuable for several reasons:

  • Determining the feasibility of particular threat vectors.
  • Identifying higher risk exposures – that result from a combination of lower level vulnerabilities exploited in a particular sequence.
  • Manually identifying vulnerabilities that may be difficult or impossible to detect through automated means.
  • Assessing the magnitude of business / operational impacts due to a successful attack.
  • Testing the ability of security systems (including their human operators) to defend against, and respond to particular attacks.
  • Provide evidence to support increasing investments in security technology and personnel.

 

Security Audit

A security audit involves assessing the security integrity of a particular system. This can involve manual or automatic processes, and will often combine both in a comprehensive audit.

Running regular security audits is a great way to maintain confidence in the security integrity of a system. Often such audits are legally mandated by regulations in certain industries – for example PCI DSS in the card payment industry.

Security audits can involve:

  • Interviewing personnel
  • Reviewing physical security procedures and access controls
  • Reviewing information access controls and user privileges
  • Reviewing event logs
  • Performing manual / automatic security vulnerability scans

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