How to build effective collaboration with third-party Penetration Testing Provider?
August 19, 2019

The process of penetration testing (pen testing) by pentest provider is one of the best ways to understand the potential flaws and weaknesses of your IT environment — through the eyes of “malicious” outsider. It allows you to view the digital landscape from a threat perspective by launching a simulated hackers attack against your computer system and looking for exploitable vulnerabilities. As a security measure, pen-testing enables companies to:

 

  • Avoid financial damage
  • Enjoy uninterrupted service
  • Manage risk more effectively
  • Avoid client-side cyber attacks
  • Improve existing security posture
  • Assess response time to security threats
  • Comply with existing security regulations
  • Better protect themselves and their clients
  • Protect their reputations and their product

Triggers for Penetration Testing

Think about reasons to do penetration testing, triggers for it includes, but are not limited to:

  • Compliance requirements
  • Reaching milestones in software development or maturity in IT, Application, and Security processes
  • Major changes that affect business processes and security of an application
  • Completion of or on reaching milestones within security remediation activities
  • It would be best if you had it as part of a vulnerability and risk management processes
  • Final check of security by 3rd party after recovery from a security incident

You likely don’t need a penetration test if you have not recently triggered one of the above events.

What to Do Before a Pentest

To prepare for future penetration test, you should consider a vulnerability scan either in parallel with the security baseline or shortly after that if you’ve never used a vulnerability management program. Once you’ve addressed the patching problem, run another vulnerability scan to see what you missed. Fix those findings and start the process of penetration test by third-party Penetration Testing Provider.

Don’t Waste Time on the Wrong Penetration Test

Back to penetration testing you need to agree upon the type of testing.

Testing any of the following systems requires different approaches, methodologies, and techniques:

  • PaaS/IaaS cloud infrastructure
  • SaaS and Web Application
  • Web and API
  • Network, DNS, or IP Range
  • Hardware and/or Firmware

After you decide what to test, then we need to determine which of the following approaches to use, all of which can be referred to as “Penetration Testing”:

  • Vulnerability scanning (with or without human verification of results)
  • Web application security and penetration testing
  • Code Review
  • Network/System Penetration testing

Penetration testing stages

Penetration testing involves a few stages:

Planning and reconnaissance: Scanning: Gaining access: Maintaining exploit: Reviewing results:

Define the goal of a test.

Locate systems to be addressed.

Find proper testing methods(i) to use.

Use a method of static analysis(i) to inspect an application’s code to assess how it behaves without executing the program.

Use dynamic analysis(i) to inspect a target while application’ code is running.

Use web application attacks like SQLi, IDOR, XSS and many others. Exploit these vulnerabilities by escalating privileges, do run conditions, and run other logical weakness. These proofs provide information about how much damage they can cause. Can the vulnerability be used to achieve an advanced persistent threat, long enough for a hacker to gain deeper access to the infrastructure? Given an attacker can hang out in a system for months before being detected, this is essential information to have. Use the results of this penetration testing to craft a report with a variety of proofs of attack.

Penetration Testing And Security Service Provider

Sometimes trying to determine how cyber-resilient an organization and its infrastructure are to attack is severe. However, given the pressing importance of the question, there is no alternative to taking on the challenge with robust solutions. To answer this ongoing demand for understanding, many Security Service Providers has started offering penetration testing services to their clients. This specialized approach of “managed ethical-hackers attack” can be a great way to evaluate the security of information systems and determine their readiness for real-world scenarios.

The objective of this third-party penetration testing is to probe around a system in an attempt to identify weaknesses and security gaps in all areas of an organization, from online applications to supporting network infrastructure to physical perimeter of the premises. Unlike a basic vulnerability assessment, which only identifies weaknesses, and usually includes a mapping of the network and systems connected to it and the creation of a catalog of the hypothetically vulnerable systems. Penetration testing goes further by actively exploiting any holes and establishing a more profound sense of potential risk.

The vendor should then report all findings with complete honesty and transparency, as well as offer realistic suggestions for improvement.

What are the risks to work with a third-party Penetration Testing Provider?

  • Specific vulnerabilities or weaknesses could be missed by a low-quality provider.
  • Sensitive information could be inadvertently damaged during unprofessional penetration testing.
  • A security service provider could potentially reveal, abuse, or even lose sensitive information found during the scheduled penetration testing.

Like all services, third party penetration testers range from the secure and professional to the amateurs, so it is up to the client to conduct the proper amount of due diligence when hiring a new cyber-security partner.

Moreover, there is the matter of cost to consider, not to mention timeliness.

High-quality mature providers should be able to report back to clients in an accessible, non-technical way that allows all managers to understand the findings.

Why hire a third-party Penetration Testing Provider?

  • Third-party vendors are more likely to find vulnerabilities the internal team hasn’t located.
  • It is cheaper than hiring in-house penetration testing experts!
  • DIY network penetration testing by unskilled professionals can lead to sluggish performance, possible downtime, or even a system crash leading to significant business disruption.
  • To ensure penetration tests are performed by actual experts and skilled auditors (rather than inexperienced employees) who conduct such exercises regularly, using best practices and cutting edge technologies.
  • To measure reaction and the quality of incident management procedures.

What constitutes a “high-quality” third-party Penetration Testing Provider?

  • Communication: A right security service provider should ensure the client has a clear objective and expectation for the test, with a type of penetration testing, realistic scope, test scenarios in a formal proposal.
  • Timing: Establishing a clear sense of when a penetration testing will be performed and how to build a process of reaction on emergency incidents.
  • Non-Disclosure: During a penetration test, sensitive information—like sensitive data, commercial secrets, and personal details—often comes to light, which means Penetration Testing Provider should be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement promising to respect the privacy of the client.
  • Approach and Methodology: Third-party providers should be able to show clients their own, well-assembled testing methodology before work begins.
  • Remediation and post penetration testing process.

There are many factors to consider when choosing your Penetration Testing Provider, including overall competence, success rate, representation, positive references, and technical support.

What’s the best way to evaluate third-party Penetration Testing Provider?

When looking for your Penetration Testing Provider, consider these areas:

  • Offered Initial scope and test scenarios of the security assessment.

What is the main objective of the penetration test?

  • The company’s overall qualifications and experience.

Do they have specialized penetration testers with full credentials and quality experience?

  • Deliverables at the end of the process.

Will the company provide an acceptable service report at the end of the pen test?

  • Does penetration testing service include remediation service?

A penetration testing service provider may conduct an in-depth pen test but may not offer remediation of the vulnerabilities 

  • Will my services remain available during a penetration test?

A penetration test is a simulated attack, it is not practically feasible for any service provider to guarantee the availability of your services during a test. The testing team should know which attack weakens a system and which does not, in case of exploiting of risky vectors provider should build a process of communication with the client.

  • The value of regularity and consistency.

Does the company offer ongoing scheduled tests for the future?

  • Offered price.

What does the cost and under what circumstances might the price go up?

  • Client References.

Can the third-party Penetration Testing Provider provide testimonials or recommendations from the customers?

  • Loyalty system for future penetration testing.

Can the third-party Penetration Testing Provider offer it?

While there are some risks involved with third-party Penetration Testing Provider, the benefits found in a high-quality service can’t be underestimated.

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