Brief Guide to Security Testing (and Beyond)

While cyber attackers are constantly improving their tactics and looking for new vulnerabilities, optimized security software and systems don’t stay optimized forever. Many organizations perform security tests regularly and you should, too. Here’s a primer on the three main types of security tests.

Network Vulnerability Scans: Testing for Common Vulnerabilities

Common or known vulnerabilities are system and data losses and compromises that have already happened and been reported. Network vulnerability scanners incorporate these known issues (or signatures) into their technology, providing consistent updates to keep you current. You can use a network vulnerability scanner to ensure your network hasn’t been “infected” with the latest and greatest of security threats.

Application Vulnerability Scans: Testing Applications to Expose Weaknesses

The application layer is common ground for attackers to exploit. By getting into one of your applications, attackers can take further steps to tap into your network and gain access to your sensitive data. For this, an application vulnerability scanner logs into your application, utilizes every feature and function it has to offer, and then reports weaknesses or holes in that application that would make it vulnerable to an attack.

Penetration Testing: Creating Real-World Scenarios to Expose Vulnerabilities

Penetration testing adds a human element to the technology of network and application scans. Penetration testers are the skilled, white hat or “good” hackers that have the technical knowledge and know-how to anticipate a hacker’s next move by creating attack vector scenarios. In this way, they can uncover important vulnerabilities that may not be obvious to basic scans.

Beyond Testing

In addition to performing your own testing, it is imperative that you have a security infrastructure with multiple layers of protection that lets you:

Prevent known threats

The optimal way to prevent known threats is through the use of next-generation firewalls, internal segmentation firewalls, web application firewalls, secure email gateways, and endpoint security clients that do not tax or disrupt the network — and work together as a cohesive platform.

Detect new threats

A new threat, often called a zero-day attack, can best be detected using sandboxing. Sandboxing isolates the threat in a safe, virtual environment in which it can be poked and prodded and evaluated before eliminating it from your system if deemed dangerous or releasing it into your greater network if deemed benign. Choosing a vendor with advanced sandboxing built into their offering gives you an extra measure of security as well as peace of mind.

Mitigate existing threats

Mitigating a breach is a collaborative effort that includes sharing threat intelligence among systems, as well as among security personnel. Sharing intelligence between intrusion prevention and intrusion detection products, while adding the human element, is the best way to mitigate a breach that does get in.

Make Sense of Security Testing

As IT security experts, Tec-Refresh can help you make sense of security testing and recommend solutions based on the results. We can help you weave together a cohesive, adaptive platform of best-in-class cybersecurity technology to protect you against data breaches that advance beyond testing. Contact us to learn more.