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Thoughts on Penetration Testing Must Die or Evolve

Penetration Testing, commonly called as Pen Test, is a testing strategy to evaluate the security of a system. The test is conducted to zero-in on the weaknesses (also called as vulnerabilities) and strengths of the security system that are already in place. It is a simulating test that is performed on the system to check the risk factors that will expose the system to an unauthorized breach of security.

There will be instances when unwarranted parties gain access to your system, trespassing your security levels. Penetration Testing, true to its name thus allows a complete assessment of risk factors that can cause malicious entities to infiltrate into your standard security borders.

The Significance of 2009

Security experts across the globe identify Pen Test as an essential tool offering an in-depth defense mechanism to systems and networks. However, in 2009, there was a notion amongst the technology spheres that Pen Test is heading to its natural death.

You will agree with the fact that every software version that is high-tech will soon be replaced by its successor version, paving the way for better and updated versions. So is the case with Pen Test that will prompt the release of updated versions; may be in principle than in practice.

But there’s good news, just around the corner.

And that is:

Pen Test will soon die but will come back as something better. So what is the fate of Pen Testers, you may ask. This phenomenon does not lead to the global unemployment of pen testers but will only make these testers less favorable to companies and businesses.

The Premise behind the Death of Pen Test

Investing in prevention is always better than spending on diagnosis. This principle can be applied to the concept of Pen Test. When businesses begin to invest more in trying to prevent the occurrence of security breaches, they will save monies spent on diagnosing problems.  Hence, businesses are on the lookout for tools that can prevent security breaches than to invest in tools that are exclusively ordained to identify weaknesses that are already existing in the system.

Voicing the Thoughts of Experts Concerning the Evolution or the Obliteration of Penetration Testing

Brian Chess, the SVP of Infrastructure and Security Engineering attached to cloud operations at NetSuite came up with three thoughts that throw light on the controversial topic whether Pen Test is on the brink of evolution or is all set to face extinction.

Enlisting three opinions in verbatim that were expressed by him, every thought comes with an interpretation that explains the thought in a manner that is significant to you and your business.

Thought 1:

“People are now spending more money on getting code right in the first place than they are on proving it is wrong. However, this does not signal the end of the road for penetration testing, nor should it, but it does change things. Rather than being a standalone product, it is going to be more like a product feature. Penetration testing is going to cease being an end unto itself and re-emerge as part of a more comprehensive security solution.”

An Interpretation of the Thought

A noticeable tendency amongst businesses and technology decision makers is that investments are being made in the direction of acquiring error-free code rather than to unveil its weaknesses and errors. While this change does not sound the death knell for penetration testing, an imminent change is just around the corner. These variations can be witnessed in the form of a re-emerging technology that will lead to the implementation of an “all-inclusive” security solution.

Thought 2:

“2009 will be the year this strategy comes together, and when we look back, it will be the year when most of the world began thinking about penetration testing as part of a larger offering.”

An Interpretation of the Thought

The year 2009 will become an observer to this transformation and when businesses look back, this will be the time when penetration testing will become a significant part of a bigger picture. This concept of testing will emerge as a novel means to secure your business operations; as the days pass.

Thought 3:

“More than ever before, people understand the software security challenge, and penetration testing deserves credit for helping spread the word. But knowing a security problem exists is not the same as knowing how to fix it. In other words, penetration testing is good for finding the problem but does not help in finding the solution – and that is why it must take a long hard look at itself and then make a change. Just like the venerable spell-checker, it is going to die and come back in a less distinct but more pervasive form and I, for one, cannot wait.”

An Interpretation of the Thought

Earlier, people and businesses were of the opinion that challenges in software security and penetration testing were the two parameters that have made the most noise for the world to acknowledge and react to. However, getting to know the existence of a security problem cannot be seen in the same light as knowing how to resolve it.

That means, Pen Test is a good tool to identify the problem but fails to resolve it. This basic premise of Pen Test is what makes it vulnerable to change. And the change here does not mean its complete extinction but a chance to bounce back as a better and pervasive version that everyone concerned is looking forward to.

What’s In Store for Penetration Testers?

With so many changes prompting the evolution of Pen Test, it pays to spare a thought about the future of Penetration Testers; the human resources that are ordained to secure your systems.

Penetration Testers are professionals who should handhold companies by suggesting ways to address security issues. They will have to work in tandem with the recommendations of customers and offer ways to fix security lapses or issues that may jeopardize the safety of your systems and networks.

This having said, Penetration Testers will scrutinize the code and may demand a “recoding”, asking the developers to come up with a code that will not only identify an issue but also address it. This evolution with regard to Penetration Testing will call for a paradigm shift in how businesses will operate.

A multi-faceted approach will come to light when organizations will be prompted to consider various parameters to finally tread the path of least resistance. This practice will be in contrast to relying on pen testing to test one part of the network, another part of the web application and some other segment of the physical security.

There will come a time when businesses will pay attention to all those factors that influence their revenues. In that context, they will look out for ways and means to test all those parameters simultaneously, creating a situation of “full scope Pen Testing”. This should be the most objective way of looking at things as far as Penetration Testing is concerned.

As Things Stand Now, What Is In store for Pen Testing?

Keeping in mind the constantly changing methods of penetration testing, it is important to be notified of its latest trends. Hackers who exploit the loop holes in testing practices will find novel ways of hacking your data. It is hence the need of the hour for organizations to perform penetration tests, through pen testers who will be directed to actually think the way the hackers think; especially when you are updating your software.

When this practice is followed, you will be able to detect any vulnerability that might cause a security breach.

The three pointers that determine penetration testing are concerned about:

  1. Protection
  2. Detection
  3. Response

For your system to demonstrate a high level of data security, it is essential that you have all the above mentioned pointers in place.

Currently, most of the organizations are incorporating pen testing as a significant part of their business maintenance plan with the IT heads banking on the suggestions offered by Information Security Experts. This has led to performing regular pen tests as part of compliance audits with pen testers making the most of automated and manual techniques teamed with testing tools that will be able to detect weak links in IT infrastructure.

Conclusion

And when all the loopholes are plugged with pen testing practices, you will be able to secure your data effectively, thus nipping the chances of a security breach in its bud itself. Without getting bogged down by the thought that the concept of Pen Test is nearing extinction, it pays to look at this change as a positive transformation that will fuel the advancement of novel ways to secure your networks and systems.

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