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How to choose the right penetration testing partner

How to choose the right penetration testing partner for your business

26th March 2024

6 min read

In today’s digital landscape, cybersecurity threats are evolving at an alarming rate. With the growing number of cyber-attacks and data breaches, businesses must prioritise their security measures to protect sensitive information and safeguard their reputation. Penetration testing is an essential component of this defence strategy.

Penetration testing, often referred to as ethical hacking, involves simulating real-world cyber-attacks to identify vulnerabilities in a company’s systems or networks. Mimicking the tactics employed by malicious hackers helps businesses gauge their preparedness against potential threats and make necessary improvements.

However, conducting effective penetration tests requires expertise and experience. That’s where choosing the right penetration testing partner becomes crucial for businesses looking to fortify their security defences.

A trusted partner can provide valuable insights into weak points within your company’s infrastructure while offering actionable recommendations for improvement.

When it comes to selecting a penetration testing partner, there are several critical factors to consider – from technical expertise and industry track record to appropriate methodologies and certifications. You shouldn’t make the decision lightly. Instead, it deserves careful evaluation based on authentic credentials and proven capabilities.

Here, we explore what makes a reliable provider stand out from the rest. We’ll highlight the key considerations that will empower you with invaluable knowledge when choosing the ideal pen-testing partner for your business needs.

Expertise: the foundation of reliable penetration testing

When it comes to selecting a penetration testing partner for your business, expertise is vital. It forms the foundation upon which solid security assessments and vulnerability identification are built. Choosing a provider with proven expertise can make all the difference in identifying potential flaws in your systems and protecting your sensitive data.

Experience matters when it comes to penetration testing because it translates into skill in finding vulnerabilities that might otherwise go unnoticed. A deeply experienced provider has encountered various systems, technologies and attack scenarios over time, allowing them to develop an intuitive understanding of your potential weaknesses.

Their ability to ‘think like an attacker’ means they can identify even the most elusive vulnerabilities and intricate exploits.

Moreover, experienced professionals bring industry-specific knowledge that enables them to understand the unique challenges faced by organisations within particular sectors. For example, if you operate in healthcare or financial services, where compliance regulations play a significant role, engaging with experts familiar with these frameworks will ensure thorough assessment against industry standards.

Opting for an expert penetration testing partner over one lacking sufficient experience may increase the likelihood of discovering any critical vulnerabilities in your systems before malicious actors exploit them.

CREST accreditation

Selecting a partner with CREST accreditation carries immense importance when choosing the right penetration testing provider. CREST (the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers) is an internationally recognised organisation that certifies and accredits security testers. Choosing a CREST-accredited provider gives your business peace of mind, knowing you’re working with professionals who adhere to the highest industry standards.

A key reason why selecting a CREST-accredited provider is crucial lies in the expertise it ensures. To obtain such accreditation, penetration testers must undergo rigorous assessments that evaluate their technical capabilities and adherence to ethical guidelines. Partnering with a CREST-accredited company means you can trust the expertise and skills of the penetration testers involved.

Moreover, choosing a partner accredited by CREST gives credibility not only to your business but also in potential legal scenarios. It demonstrates your commitment to employing reputable professionals who conduct ethical hacking exercises following approved methods and protocols. This kind of assurance goes a long way in establishing trust both within your organisation and among clients or customers beyond regulatory compliance requirements.

Opting for a penetration testing service provider with CREST accreditation provides confidence in their expertise while reinforcing professionalism within your business operations.

Pentest methodology

Working with a penetration testing provider with a well-defined methodology is essential for conducting thorough assessments. It ensures consistency, full coverage and accuracy but also helps identify vulnerabilities and recommend appropriate measures to mitigate them.

One commonly used methodology is the OWASP Testing Guide (Open Web Application Security Project). It provides a comprehensive framework for conducting web application security tests. The guide covers various levels of assessment, including information gathering, configuration management testing, authentication testing, session management testing and more. This methodology is used heavily by our web application penetration testing services.

Another widely recognised methodology is the OSSTMM (Open-Source Security Testing Methodology Manual), which focuses on assessing the security posture of an organisation’s infrastructure. The OSSTMM follows a systematic approach that includes reconnaissance, target selection, vulnerability analysis, exploitation attempts, post-exploitation analysis and reporting. This is mainly used by our network and infrastructure penetration testing service.

Having such established methodologies not only ensures that all aspects of your business are thoroughly tested but also gives you confidence in your penetration testing partner’s expertise and professionalism.

Keep in mind that it’s essential to choose a partner who aligns their methodologies with your specific needs. Every organisation has its own unique set of requirements and risk profiles; therefore, selecting a penetration tester who can tailor their approach accordingly is crucial for achieving effective results.

Industry track record

When selecting a penetration testing partner, it’s crucial to consider their reviews and reputation. Every sector has its unique challenges and compliance requirements, so working with a provider who understands your industry is essential. Evaluate their past performance in sectors relevant to your organisation to ensure they have the necessary expertise.

One way to assess an organisation’s industry track record is by researching case studies or client testimonials. These can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of their services within specific industries. Look for evidence of successful engagements that demonstrate competence in addressing vulnerabilities and mitigating risks.

For example, if you operate in the healthcare sector, seek out a penetration testing partner with experience working with other healthcare providers. They will likely be familiar with regulations such as the NHS Act 2006, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT), and understand the unique security challenges associated with protecting sensitive patient data.

Ultimately, choosing a penetration testing partner with a proven track record in your industry can instil confidence that they have the knowledge and skills needed to protect your organisation effectively against potential cyber threats.

Cost and value

While it’s natural for businesses to consider cost when choosing a penetration testing partner, it’s essential not to make this the sole determining factor. Yes, budget constraints are always present, but focusing only on the price can lead to compromising on the quality of services received. It’s crucial to remember that an ineffective or incomplete penetration test could leave your business vulnerable to cyber-attacks and financial loss.

Instead, shift your focus towards evaluating the value and long-term benefits of partnering with a reliable and trustworthy penetration testing provider. Consider factors such as their expertise in conducting comprehensive tests, the depth of questions they ask during scoping, their understanding of your industry-specific risks and their ability to provide actionable recommendations for remediation. A thorough assessment by skilled professionals may help you identify vulnerabilities that were previously overlooked, ultimately saving you from potentially devastating security breaches down the line.

Furthermore, a valuable partnership entails ongoing support beyond just identifying vulnerabilities during initial testing. Look for providers who offer post-testing support, like assistance with vulnerability patching or guidance on implementing robust security measures based on test findings. By investing in a trusted partner who understands your unique requirements and offers continual assistance even after testing is complete, you can maximise the value obtained from your investment while safeguarding against future threats.

Remember: prioritising long-term value over immediate cost savings will likely yield greater returns in terms of enhanced cybersecurity posture and peace of mind for you and your stakeholders.

Steps to evaluate potential pentesting partners

Here’s a quick recap of the steps you should take when choosing a penetration testing provider:

  1. Assess reputation: Start by researching and evaluating the reputation of potential penetration testing partners. Look for reviews, testimonials and case studies on their website or other reputable sources. Pay attention to customer feedback regarding the partner’s professionalism, quality of work and ability to meet deadlines.
  2. Qualifications and certifications: Verify that the penetration testing partner has relevant qualifications and certifications in cybersecurity. Look for accreditations like CREST certification, ISO27001 and ISO9001, which ensure a high level of expertise and adherence to industry, security and quality best practices.
  3. Communication capabilities: Effective communication is crucial throughout the penetration testing process. Ensure your selected partner demonstrates excellent communication capabilities by providing consistent updates, clearly explaining vulnerabilities found during tests, and recommending remediation measures with prioritisation based on risk severity levels.
  4. Methodology, transparency & flexibility: A reliable penetration testing partner should be transparent about their methodology, so you understand how they’ll conduct tests and what specific areas they’ll cover within your business infrastructure and/or applications. Additionally, seek flexibility in tailoring their approach according to your specific requirements or compliance needs.
  5. Robust reporting & documentation: Your chosen partner must have strong reporting skills, ensuring comprehensive documentation post-test phase alongside clear mitigation strategies addressing identified vulnerabilities. Ensure proactive collaboration with stakeholders’ teams around findings analysis and follow-up procedures, as well as access management and perimeter strengthening if needed.

How can Sentrium help?

In conclusion, choosing the right penetration testing partner for your business is a critical decision you shouldn’t make hastily. By considering factors such as expertise, CREST accreditation, methodology and industry track record, you can ensure you select the right partner that’ll effectively identify vulnerabilities in your systems and provide actionable recommendations.

Remember to thoroughly evaluate potential partners by examining their previous work and seeking testimonials from satisfied clients.

Take the time to understand their approach and methodology to ensure it aligns with your specific needs and compliance requirements.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification during the selection process. A trustworthy penetration testing partner should be responsive, communicative and able to address any concerns or doubts you may have.

At Sentrium, we score highly on all of the above.

We’re an experienced, CREST-accredited cyber security consultancy specialising in application, cloud and penetration testing services. We provide complete visibility of your security vulnerabilities and reduce risks to your business information and technology.

Ultimately, selecting an appropriate penetration testing partner is an investment in your business’s security posture.

Making an informed decision based on careful evaluation of critical factors discussed in this article can enhance your organisation’s resilience against potential cyber threats. So, take your time and choose wisely. And if you think Sentrium can help, why not give us a call?

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