In order to stay competitive, lots of businesses are constantly innovating and updating their technology. Not to mention that 2020 saw a surge in digital transformation and remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is nothing wrong with digitalisation and making technologies more efficient, this rapid change in systems and environments can increase the risk of a cybersecurity attack by inadvertently creating new weaknesses and vulnerabilities. For this reason, businesses must do all they can to protect their data and their systems. One way to do this is through regular penetration (pen) testing and conducting a penetration test.
These tests are designed to identify vulnerabilities in your applications by exploiting these as if you were an outside attacker. You might even hire a third-party penetration tester to do this for you.
But when was the last time you actually ran a pen test in your business?
If it’s been a while, or if you’ve never done this at all, here are seven signs that it might time you did it right away.
1. There have been updates to security and data regulations
Every business must adhere to specific security and data privacy regulations, for example, general data protection regulations (GDPR). So if these have recently been updated, but your systems and security efforts have not, this is a major sign that it’s time to run a penetration test.
After all, you need to be able to show that your business is compliant with the relevant rules and regulations if you are ever challenged. Not to mention you want your data to be as safe and secure as possible because a data breach could have some serious repercussions across the company.
So make sure that you have a dedicated employee to keep up to date with security and data privacy regulations, so you can ensure that your business is always on top of any law changes or legal requirements.
2. You’ve seen lots of news stories about security breaches
Has your LinkedIn newsfeed suddenly become filled with story after story about data breaches and cyberattacks in your industry? If so, this is another red flag.
If cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts, you need to make sure you do the same to fend of any potential attackers. A penetration test can quickly highlight any vulnerabilities, so you can address and fix these immediately.
3. You’re not confident in your current security posture
If you’ve got nagging doubts in the back of your mind about how strong your company’s current security posture is, then don’t let these get worse! You can quickly and simply address the problem and put these nagging thoughts at bay.
This also gives you a good opportunity to assess your security systems, to determine how good they are and any areas you can improve upon. There is never a bad time to do this, but if you’re losing sleep over the security of your systems, then act right away and schedule in an updated penetration test.
4. You are deploying a new service or system
Are you currently in the middle of deploying a new service, system or application to better support your team and customers? That’s great news! But this is also a sign that you need to check in on your cybersecurity.
As we said, any huge changes in systems and environments can increase the risk of a cybersecurity attack. This is because new and untested applications can create new weaknesses and vulnerabilities you might not have had before.
So, whenever you deploy a new application or service, you should always make sure that cybersecurity is a part of the launch strategy, and better still, that penetration testing falls into your plan somewhere along the line.
5. You’ve kicked your digital transformation into high gear
We also mentioned the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and how this saw a sudden surge in digitalisation and remote working. This is because, with businesses across the world forced to close, many had to rely on digital tools to keep their business and teams afloat.
While it’s great that technology has made this possible, lots of businesses ramped up their efforts very quickly, and some were unaware of the risks that came with this. Not to mention that sneaky cybercriminals saw this as an opportunity to exploit new weaknesses from businesses that didn’t know any better.
And though we are beginning to emerge from the other side of the pandemic, lots of businesses plan to continue working on their digital transformation, and many are also letting their teams continue to work from home.
For this reason, it is important to run an updated pen test to make sure that you haven’t accidentally created a new gateway to your data. One that cybercriminals can easily and happily exploit.
6. You’ve started receiving alerts
If you’ve started to see pop-ups, strange activity, or you’ve received warnings of potential breaches to your systems – do not ignore these! Hackers are sophisticated and determined, and just because they failed to get into your system once doesn’t mean they’ll fail the next time.
So if any alerts start coming through, any strange logins or compromised applications, you need to act right away. Don’t take the risk and naively believe that they’ll move on to other companies. Addressing the issue straight away can save you from much bigger problems further down the line.
7. It’s been a while since your last test
Finally, one of the biggest signs that you need to run a penetration test is that it has been a while since you did the last one. If you can’t even remember when your last pen test was, then you need to get one booked in right away!
Is it time you ran a penetration test?
So there you have it, seven huge signs that it might be time for you to run a penetration test in your business. These might feel tricky and time-consuming, but ultimately being proactive can help you to tackle weaknesses head-on and avoid any bigger issues that could do serious damage to your business and reputation.