Penetration testing raises important legal and ethical considerations, particularly when testers actually breach company networks. To remain fully compliant, they must first obtain permission to identify and intrude upon a company’s systems. They also need to follow responsible disclosure practices after ethical hacking sessions end.
It is illegal to perform a penetration test without authorization. Testers must obtain explicit written permission before performing any sort of exploit on company property, commonly known as the Rules of Engagement.
Penetration tests must also follow applicable laws, including regulations on data privacy and intellectual property rights. They should only access data on a need-to-know basis for the purpose of preventing additional cybercrimes.
Penetration testing provides important benefits. Most notably, it helps a company better understand threats to its digital data. Here are some other ways that pen testing helps organizations:
Some organizations also consider pen testing a competitive advantage. Customers, stakeholders and employees often prefer to partner with companies that take their security seriously.
Penetration testing and vulnerability assessment are similar but distinct fields. Vulnerability assessment is more of an observational step, when penetration testers review and identify potential threats to company systems. Pen testing searches for exploits based on assessment findings.
Vulnerability assessments rely heavily on automated scanning tools to scope out company networks. Testers use these tools to search for vulnerabilities, system misconfigurations or other points of access. After a vulnerability assessment, actual testing can begin.